With the New Year comes some food for thought..and health!
Our gut microflora (microbiome) holds trillions of microorganisms that regulate our immunity, endocrine system, digestion, and metabolism.
Recent discoveries link our gut microbiome with mood, cardiovascular health and the ability to fight disease. It appears that restoring optimum gut-flora balance may promote long-term health.
The most important gut microbiome is in the bifidobacteria group. Bacteria in this association appear to fight allergies, high cholesterol levels, respiratory diseases, diabetes, stress, and anxiety among other benefits. Unfortunately, as we age our bifidobacteria decline. Children have the highest levels, but over time – age, poor diet, and antibiotic use reduce our levels. According to the research, we start life with about 60% of healthy bifidobacteria, and by adulthood, we decline to 30%-40%, which falls to about 10% in late middle age to a low of 5% in old age.
It’s important as we age to provide bifidobacteria with the right food sources to grown and flourish in our guts. The number one source for this healthy bacteria is prebiotic soluble fiber. It’s worth noting that all prebiotics are fiber, but not all fiber is prebiotic. To be classified as a prebiotic food fiber must, 1) resist gastric acidity, enzymatic hydrolysis, and upper gastrointestinal tract absorption, 2) be fermented by intestinal flora, 3) stimulate growth and/or activity of beneficial bacteria.
There are several prebiotics that aid in shifting the microbial in our gut, but one stands out from the crowd, xylooligosaccharides (XOS). XOS are found in Bamboo shoots, Chicory Root, Jerusalem artichoke, Dandelion Greens, Garlic, Leeks, Onions, Asparagus, Wheat Bran, Banana, and honey, among other fruits, vegetables, and additional sources. There are also supplements of XOS, but be careful to check the brand to ensure quality and consistency. Several brands can be researched on consumerlab.com to verify excellence.
As you review your New Year resolutions for positive healthy habits, pay close attention to your inner body and the relationship your gut has with your overall health. What you put in and on your body matters. Consider adding XOS to your diet in a form that makes sense to you. Improve your microbiome with a diet high in prebiotic soluble fiber, and you may find that your health, mood, and ability to fight disease will improve.