Fact or Fad?
The Gut Health and Probiotic Trend:
If you work in an office in a third world city, then you’ve probably heard one of these terms chucked about. It’s the new thing. Nevermind feeding your body, we’re made up of trillions of bacteria so make sure you feed them!
But is Kerry from the Finance department’s elderflower and ginger kombucha, or Dave from HR’s strawberry kefir drink, really going to increase their mood, cognitive function and reduce irritable bowel movements, or is it just a fad?
Welcome to the new fact or fad series, brought to you by the Nutrition team at Happy Joe. Today we are going to be demystifying the gut health trend. First off. What is a probiotic and where does it come from?
A probiotic is essentially a ‘good’ strain of bacteria. Our body is made up of trillions of these bacteria, both bad and good, and what we consume through our diets can determine what % of these bacteria are ‘good’ or ‘bad’. The idea being that if you have more ‘good’ bacteria in your body, then they will compete with your ‘bad bacteria’. If there are more ‘bad’ bacteria, you could be vulnerable to a long list of health issues including diarrhoea and decreased nutrient uptake. So how do we ensure we have more positive gut bacteria!?
The first thing we need to take in is ‘prebiotic fibre’. Prebiotics are fibrous foods such as vegetables and grains that benefit our ‘good’ bacteria. By contrast, simple sugars such as chocolate and sweets will benefit our ‘bad bacteria’.
Once this has been dealt with, and only then, we can start looking at the trendy probiotics. These tend to be fermented vegetable products that contain good bacteria. Some of our key tips for this are:
Try adding miso paste to your noodles! It is a delicious Japanese fermented soybean found in most UK supermarkets!
Try using Kefir milk instead of normal milk in your smoothies.
Have a side of kimchi with your next Asian meal.
Try adding sauerkraut to your next salad.
To summarise, the occasional drink or supplement is not going to make much of a difference. Really, a probiotic pill is like putting a drop of saltwater in an Olympic swimming pool. It’s not gonna make it an ocean. If you maintain a balanced diet with lots of vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and limit simple sugars, you should be ok. Supplement that with fermented foods where possible and you will be on your way to a bullet-proof gut!
Happy Joe Fact or Fad: