Discover WHY restoring “friendly” gut bacteria is so important to avoid disease symptoms
(NaturalHealth365) Believe it or not, the bacteria in our bodies outnumber our human cells by an astonishing 10 to 1. If considering this fact makes you feel a little queasy, remember – the community of beneficial gut bacteria is an important line of defense against disease.
Natural health experts and researchers report that nutrients known as probiotics and prebiotics can help support the health of “friendly” microbes in the digestive tract. And, a recent study shows that a prebiotic known as XOS is particularly effective in encouraging helpful bacteria and maintaining microbiome balance.
Why beneficial gut bacteria are so important to your health
Research has shown that beneficial bacteria help to regulate metabolism, facilitate the proper absorption of nutrients and even influence the function of neurotransmitters (such as serotonin and dopamine) that are needed for cognition, stable mood and restful sleep.
In addition, friendly bacteria stimulate the immune system by activating disease-fighting lymphocytes. But – unfortunately – “bad actors” exist.
Overgrowths of harmful bacteria – which can include certain disease-causing strains of E. coli, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus – can threaten to overwhelm the “good guys.” This dysbiosis, or imbalance in the makeup of the gut microbiome, can play havoc with health.
A recent article published in the eminent scientific publication Journal of the American College of Cardiology reported that decreases in the diversity of gut bacteria – as well as overgrowths of harmful bacteria – are associated with a long list of illnesses, include coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, congestive heart failure and obesity.
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The key to improving digestive health: Nourish your beneficial gut bacteria
Luckily, there are safe and effective ways of promoting microbiome balance. Probiotics, defined as substances that help to support the community of friendly bacteria, can be obtained through eating fermented foods such as yogurt with active cultures, miso, kimchi and fresh sauerkraut.
But don’t overlook the importance of prebiotics, non-digestible carbohydrates which serve as actual fuel for gut bacteria. Admittedly, “non-digestible” doesn’t sound like an endorsement for something we should be eating.
However, non-digestible carbs (also known as oligosaccharides) really are digested – only not by the body. Rather, they are consumed and digested by intestinal bacteria.
And, as a sort of “thank-you,” prebiotic-gobbling bacteria produce substances the body needs – such as beneficial short-chain fatty acids and B vitamins.
By the way: to be classified as a true prebiotic, a food ingredient must resist digestion, be fermented by intestinal microbes, and stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria.
Find out how a mysterious-sounding prebiotic can improve your health
The name XOS may sound like that of a top-secret government project. But it’s simply an abbreviation for xylooligosaccharide, a specific type of oligosaccharide.
XOS, derived from the cobs of non-GMO corn, is particularly good at supporting a strain of beneficial gut bacteria known as bifidobacteria, which are linked with protection against allergies, high cholesterol and respiratory diseases.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted in 2014 by UCLA researchers, one group of participants took 1 gram of day of XOS, a second group took 2 grams a day and a third group received placebo. Both of the XOS groups had increases in bifidobacteria, with the higher-dose group experiencing significantly larger increases.
Although this study was conducted for eight weeks, additional research showed that XOS succeeded in boosting bifidobacterial levels within a mere 14 days. And, the scientists reported that XOS didn’t cause the unpleasant side effects – such as excessive gas, bloating and cramping – that can accompany other prebiotics.
There was even more good news!
In a study published in Korean Journal of Nutrition, the team found that XOS reduced blood levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar – thereby helping to ward off heart disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Bonus: XOS helps maintain healthy weight and fights inflammation
Like other oligosaccharides, XOS can cause a feeling of satiety, or fullness, which may help prevent binge eating, food cravings and obesity. In one animal study, XOS even seemed to counteract weight gain caused by a high-fat diet.
And, there is evidence that XOS may have applications in treating IBS and IBD. Among its other byproducts, XOS creates butyrate, an anti-inflammatory fat that protects colon tissue from damage caused by ulcerative colitis.
In another “plus” for XOS, scientists have noted that it is safe and relatively inexpensive, with beneficial effects achieved at very low doses. This means it is more cost-effective than other, less potent oligosaccharides.
Support intestinal health with prebiotic foods and supplements
XOS is found in fruits, vegetables, bamboo shoots and – somewhat surprisingly – honey. Other good sources of oligosaccharides include onions, leeks, garlic, chicory root, wheat, asparagus and jicama.
And, here’s a health tip: To protect the levels of beneficial gut bacteria, it makes good sense to avoid their “enemies” – which include inflammatory substances such as GMOs, processed foods, refined sugars, alcohol and unnecessary courses of antibiotics.
XOS is available in supplementary form, with natural healers advising dosages ranging from one to four grams a day. As always, check with your integrative doctor before adding XOS to your daily health routine.
Remember: when it comes to staying healthy, you really ought to “trust your gut.” (pun intended) As these studies attest, XOS can help restore all-important microbial balance and ward off disease symptoms.
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