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Probiotics, Prebiotics, Microbiome and Leaky Gut... What do All These Words Mean?

Gut HealthAlana Holloway
Learn About Probiotics

With all the new and exciting research that’s going into gut health at the moment, it can sometimes be a bit of a challenge to keep up with all the terminology.   Here’s a few that you may have heard flying around, with a little bit about what they mean.

Gut – Refers to your intestines.

Gut Microbiome – Also called Gut Flora, Bacteria, your gut microbiome are the community of bacteria (or microbes) that live within your gut.  They are responsible for breaking down your food, producing certain nutrients and communicating with your immune system.

Good Bacteria – The beneficial bacteria, a.k.a PROBIOTICS, present in your gut that support the gut, and therefore the body, in carrying out it’s duties (listed above).  You want a decent number of these guys in your gut.

Bad Bacteria – The pathogenic bacteria present in your gut that can wreak havoc, and can be linked to a whole host of health conditions, including chronic inflammatory conditions, autoimmune disorders, obesity, diabetes and mental health conditions.  We all have bad bacteria living within our guts, but the aim is to keep their numbers to a minimum.

Prebiotics - Foods (specifically the fibre in these foods) that feed the good bacteria in your gut.  These include garlic, leeks, onions, Jerusalem artichokes, dandelion greens and more.

Gut Dysbiosis - This is an imbalance between your gut bacteria, when the ‘bad’ bacteria outnumber the ‘good’.

Gut Lining – The wall of your gut.  It’s a meager one cell thick and is the protective barrier between the outside world and your inside world.

Leaky Gut Syndrome – This is when the individual cells that make up your gut lining separate, causing small gaps to form.  Bacteria and proteins are then able to make their way though to the other side, a place they don’t belong.  Cue immune system overdrive and systemic inflammation.

SIBO – Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.  This is when the number and/or type of bacteria normally present in your small intestine grow in quantity and variety.   This can interfere with the normal digestion of food, damage the gut lining (see Leaky Gut above) and therefore be a pre-cursor to other health conditions.

As you can see, gut related problems can be the result of a chain reaction. 

1.     Eat the right foods (and live a lifestyle complimentary to the health of your gut) and your bacterial balance will be kept in check. 

2.     Keep your bacterial balance in check and reduce risk of Gut Dysbiosis and SIBO. 

3.     Avoid Gut Dysbiosis and SIBO and assist your body in maintaining a healthy gut lining (which can also be linked to step one; eat the right foods.)

4.     Do all of that (basically Step 1) and improve your chances of avoiding a truckload of health conditions.

Are there any others you've heard of and would like to know what they mean?  Pop it in the comments below and I'll do my best to give you an answer...

*Originally published on Fodder + Plonk