Polyphenols and Probiotics
The foods we eat don’t just help nourish our bodies. We are also nourishing the trillions of bacteria that comprise our individual intestinal microbiomes. These bacteria are vital not only to the digestive process, but also to our immune and mental health as well. Dysfunctional gut microbes are implicated in obesity, diabetes, inflammation, depression and anxiety.
Obviously, diet contributes a great deal to how well our gut microbes work. But which foods help the most? Recent evidence suggests that polyphenols play a major role in determining which bacteria can thrive and work optimally in our intestinal tracts. The addition of prebiotics, foods that help gut bacteria grow, to our diet helps the good bacteria we already have to increase in numbers. The most common prebiotic is certain plant fibers.
Polyphenols are plant-derived compounds found in fruits and vegetables. They are further divided into anthocyanins, anthocyanidins, flavones, flavonols, and several other categories. Anthocyanins are the compounds that contribute to food colors such as red, blue, and purple.
When we eat foods high in polyphenols, only 10% are absorbed in the small intestine. The rest are digested by gut microbes in the large intestine. The polyphenols nourish selected, good gut bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli and cause their numbers to increase significantly. At the same time, these compounds inhibit harmful bacteria such as Clostridia and Bacteroides species. Unabsorbed polyphenols are modified by bacterial enzymes which allows uptake of the polyphenol into the systemic circulation.
Products containing both prebiotics and probiotics are called synbiotics, and enable probiotics to function better in the microbiome. Houston Enzymes produces a symbiotic product known as Biomuve. It contains the probiotic DE111™, plus Actazin™, a proprietary prebiotic derived from non-GMO kiwi fruit.
But we upped the ante by adding an enzyme to the mix. This enzyme, xylanase, aids in breaking down selected plant fibers. In addition, xylanase tends to soften the stools to allow easier bowel movements.
Dieticians encourage the consumption of fruits and vegetables. We can ensure that we get the most benefit from these foods by using synbiotics. Your microbiome will thank you!