By Kim Clerke, Microbiologist
When you think about what parts of the body get the most attention, it’s often on the outside; your hair, eyes, teeth, skin, nails and overall appearance. The beauty industry tells us we’re worth it. We all want great looking bodies, but what about a great functioning microbiota?
Do we ever think about what’s happening in our gut?
Once upon a time, our gut was thought to do one simple thing – digest food. More recently, scientists have discovered that the microbiome – the name given to the trillions of microbes (between 300 and 500 different species of bacteria) that live in our intestines – influences many, many systems in our bodies. While some bacteria are harmful, most are very beneficial and are extremely helpful for our health, weight and other functions.
Gut health is much more crucial than we give it credit for. In fact, the microbiome influences our immune function, mood, mental health, heart health, skin health, blood sugar levels, weight gain and many chronic and autoimmune diseases.
While we are providing the microbes a home, they are providing us with additional enzymes, minerals and vitamins, assisting in digestion and absorption of our food, regulating hormones, controlling cravings, aiding in detoxification and preventing disease.
When you’re feeling hungry, it’s actually your microbiome telling your brain to feed the bacteria in your gut. If you have sugar cravings, it’s not a ‘sweet tooth’ that’s to blame, but an imbalance in your gut that has been become accustomed to too much sugar. Many conditions and diseases can be improved with a better diet that addresses the microbiome imbalance.
Our gut holds the secret to better skin, stronger hair and healthier bodies. We need to care for our gut health the way we care for our appearance, by feeding it a healthy balance of food, particularly food that contains healthy bacteria, such as fermented foods and beverages.
Fermented Foods and their role in gut health.
Fermented foods and beverages such as yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, sourdough and kombucha account for roughly one-third of the global human diet and have been found to positively support gut health. Some experts even recommend that fermented foods be included in national dietary recommendations.
Many fermented foods contain 1 million to 1 billion viable microbes per gram or millilitre, and a large portion of those may survive passage through the digestive tract, therefore eating fermented foods has the potential to increase the number of microbes in the diet by up to ten thousand-fold. Many species of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium help crowd out pathogens, maintain gut barrier function, and produce organic acids that nourish colonic cells and enhance gut health.
Fermented food nourishes and feeds the rest of our microbiome. The fermentation process produces organic acids, vitamins, peptides and unique nutrients that you would not otherwise absorb from the food without it having undergone the fermentation process.
Fermentation of fibre-rich foods produce bioactive compounds that may have benefits for immunity, glycaemic response, and an inflammatory state.
Pasteurisation kills healthy probiotics
Many manufacturers pasteurise their products (i.e. kill the microbes) to cease the fermentation process and create uniformity in the product, as fermentation may continue after the product leaves the production facility up until the point it is consumed. Pasteurisation is non-selective and kills all of the microbes present in the product.
Not only do the food preservation methods of pasteurisation, irradiation and preservatives kill the beneficial microbes responsible for fermentation, these food preservation methods disable enzymes destroy vitamins, and many of the beneficial metabolites that are produced during fermentation which is what benefits us in the first place, regardless of whether we need the microbes alive when we eat fermented foods or not.
It is unnecessary for food safety, as traditional fermentation creates conditions in the product unsuitable for pathogen survival. Fermentation may also degrade toxins (such as aflatoxin) and other antinutrients making the foodstuffs even safer for consumption.
How fermented foods improve health
There is evidence fermented food consumption can assist with:
- infection control,
- bowel movement normalcy,
- Bone mineral density,
- Coronary heart disease,
- Impaired glucose metabolism,
- Type 2 diabetes,
- Cardiovascular disease,
- Muscle soreness
- Brain intrinsic activity or emotional attention
What about Kombucha?
Kombucha is a popular fermented tea drink made with Filtered water, organic sugar and organic tea plus a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast). A SCOBY appears as a thick, flat, gelatinous mat that will grow as it consumes the sugar in the tea and releases bacteria which create as sparkling, slightly sour, refreshing drink. Drinking fresh, unpasteurised kombucha, like Hemp Oz Kombucha, has a range of benefits for your health.
Kombucha benefits include, although are not limited to, the following:
- Improve digestion,
- Clear skin,
- Increase energy,
- Increase mental clarity,
- Vitamin C & B’s,
- Anti-cancer properties,
- Lowers cholesterol,
- Stabilises blood sugar,
- Aids the liver in detoxification and elimination,
- Heart and lung health,
- Beneficial to those with diabetes or blood sugar issues
- Improved Immunity (benzonitrile, benzoic acid, itaconic acid, isorhamnetin, quercetin, catalase, glucaric acid),
- Improved joint health,
- Antibacterial against pathogenic organisms such as h.pylori, E. coli, etc.,
- Certain acids present are considered candida-cides.