Pre- and probiotics - feed your gut bacteria
Your intestine is a coiled muscular tube that begins at the stomach and extends to the anus. It is now associated with many things: the seat of health, the key to your well-being, defense from the gut, the seat of intuition and the home of your subtenants - the intestinal bacteria.
Its main task is to digest the ingested food and absorb water. However, it also produces various hormones and neurotransmitters. Another important task of your intestine is the defense against pathogens.
How does your intestine work and why is it responsible for your decisions? Strengthen your longest organ system.
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Table of Contents
• The digestive system - structure
• Tasks of the digestive tract
• When your gut feels along - the gut-brain axis
• Your center in balance - the intestine as your stress detector
• Food for your microbiome - a good gut feeling
• Pro-, pre- and symbiotics - the food for your intestinal bacteria
The digestive system - structure
Your intestine is part of the digestive system. It breaks down the ingested food into substances and then absorbs them. The resulting building blocks can be used for energy production, but also for the growth of each individual cell.
The gastrointestinal system starts at the mouth, continues through the throat, esophagus, leads to the stomach and then to the small intestine, colon, rectum and ends at the anus.
Tasks of the digestive tract
The digestive organs have many more functions than you might first think. Here we have an overview of the most important functions for you:
• Mechanical and enzymatic comminution
• Storing food in the stomach
• Transport of food through the entire digestive tract
• Splitting (catabolism)
• Absorption of the digestible substances into the blood and lymphatic system
• Excretion of the indigestible food residues
• Production of metabolic products
• Immune barrier through the mucosa
When your gut feels along - the gut-brain axis
The first neurons developed in the earlier digestive system. Even now, we have 100 to 200 million neurons (nerve cells) in our abdominal brain. It is a complex network of nerves that are laid out from the esophagus to the intestinal outlet. This command center, largely independent of the brain, makes all the important decisions concerning digestion, our food and drink. For example, it regulates intestinal blood flow and motor function, analyzes the composition of food, and coordinates the absorption and elimination of your food. In addition, our gut brain communicates with the immune system and with our microbial inhabitants (microbiome).
We call our communication pathway the gut-brain axis. The two control centers, the brain and the intestine, use your nerve pathways, messenger substances and microbial metabolites to send information up and down. They are in active exchange - especially our intestine takes over 90% of the communication upwards to our brain.
In most cases, we are not actively aware of the information that the intestines send to the brain. With the help of messenger substances, they speak the same language. Our happiness hormones serotonin and dopamine, as well as the neurotransmitters GABA and acetylcholine, are the words or letters.
Did you know that 90% of serotonin is created in our gut, controlling our gut activity as well as brain production? Proverbs like "a good gut feeling" or "butterflies in the stomach" take on a whole new meaning.
But not only our intestines and our brain are in constant exchange, our intestinal bacteria also have something to say. They can significantly influence communication and decide, for example, whether we feel full or have ravenous appetite. Our emotional life and our stress resistance are also related to these small, numerous inhabitants. The production of the respective neurotransmitters is also often an interplay between intestinal cells and bacteria.
Your center in balance - the intestine as your stress detector
"Chronic stress makes you sick". You've probably heard this statement before, right? Our intestines are particularly sensitive. If the intestines are stressed, this in turn can hit us on the psyche and affect our general well-being. This in turn can hit our gut and a vicious cycle begins. In addition, an increased release of stress hormones can also lead to a decline in beneficial bacteria and thus a shift in our gut bacterial balance. Conversely, our intestinal flora can also ensure greater stress resilience (resistance). That is why it is especially important to feed your little helpers well and to take care of their well-being.
Food for your microbiome - a good gut feeling
Your microbiome helps you break down and utilize food, ferment fiber, and produce important short-chain fatty acids like butyrate. Our gut bacteria can stabilize the intestinal barrier and thus regulate our immune system. They also displace harmful bacteria that form lipopolysaccharides, promote inflammation, break down proteins and produce toxins. Whether our intestinal colonization consists mainly of "good" or "bad" inhabitants is largely determined by our diet.
Pro-, pre- and symbiotics - the food for your intestinal bacteria
You may have heard of pro- and prebiotics. Whether food or dietary supplements - the goal is to strengthen the intestinal bacteria and build up the flora, both in variety and in quantity.
What are the differences between prebiotics, probiotics and symbiotics and which of these options is best for you?
The word probiotics is composed of pro, meaning "for" and the ancient Greek word bios, meaning "life". This refers to living microorganisms. Consuming them in sufficient quantities can bring health benefits. Bifido, or lactic acid bacteria are most commonly referred to as probiotics. They occur naturally in foods. Fermented foods in particular, such as kimchi, miso, kefir, sauerkraut and pickled vegetables, are rich in probiotic strains of bacteria. An important requirement is that they survive the stomach as well as the small intestine and arrive in the large intestine, where they then take hold. There they act by increasing the number of good cultures. Whether they persist depends on diet and health status.
Prebiotics are food components that are indigestible for us, but serve as nutrients for intestinal bacteria. They enter the large intestine and can be metabolized there, especially by beneficial bacterial strains. These can thus prevail against harmful bacteria and displace them. Well-known prebiotics are flax and psyllium seeds, oat bran, resistant starch from cooked and cooled potatoes, but also components from chicory, artichokes, parsnips or Jerusalem artichokes. When eating, pay attention to your gut feeling. Each person has a very different composition of intestinal flora and therefore requires different prebiotics. Some prebiotics even increase the formation of butyrate and thus promote intestinal diversity.
The combination of probiotic and prebiotic is called symbiotic. The fact that the prebiotic feeds the probiotic creates a symbiosis (a mutual benefit). This is beneficial for your intestines because it allows more bacteria to colonize while ensuring that they survive. If bitter substances (as a further prebiotic) are also taken, this can promote your intestinal activity, make food more digestible and promote the flow of saliva and the secretion of digestive juices.
We are fans of prebiotics, especially in combination with a high-quality probiotic. This way you get both benefits and don't have to worry about your microbiome anymore.