BODY & MIND 35 Fairway Fitness with Dr. Linda Scott Follow you Gut Instincts T he gastrointestinal tract - or gut - is the most break down unutilised carbohydrates, providing source of beneficial gut bacteria - can important interface between the inside of our energy and nutrients for cells of the gut wall. help to promote a healthy gut flora, it is sometimes bodies and the outside world. It keeps the growth of harmful micro-organisms such useful to take additional probiotics. Maintaining its health should therefore be a top as E coli in check and it helps to train the immune This are especially important if we have to take a priority. system to respond appropriately. It also produces course of antibiotics, as these drugs can destroy the Once food passes through the mouth, it travels some vitamins such as biotin and vitamin K and good as well as the bad bacteria and leave our gut through approximately 10 metres of gut (including protects against some diseases. flora totally out of balance. Probiotics are dietary the stomach, intestine and colon) before exiting as While addressing stress levels and improving our supplements containing some of these live beneficial waste. diet - which should include live yoghurt as a natural micro-organisms. A healthy gut wall selectively allows beneficial Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria are the most nutrients in but keeps toxins and harmful micro- common strains used as probiotics. However, there organisms out. are other types of bacteria and yeasts that are also The gut wall can, however, become ‘leaky’ and start considered to be exceptionally beneficial and are letting in the harmful stuff if the micro-organisms included in certain newer supplements, such as living in the gut get out of balance. McNab’s Energy Brew. This can be due to a variety of conditions Studies are beginning to link different probiotic including certain illnesses, antibiotic strains, which are believed to inhabit treatment, high stress levels, a junk food different areas of the gut, to specific diet and nutrient deficiencies. health benefits. The human gut is home to around 500 These include an improvement in different types of micro-organisms or immune function, bowel health flora. and mineral absorption, as Bacteria make up most of the flora in well as relief for the following the colon and constitute more than conditions: lactose intolerance, half of the dry mass of faeces. In fact high cholesterol and blood the micro-organisms living in our gut pressure, inflammation, actually outnumber the cells in our irritable bowel syndrome, bodies by a factor of 10. colitis, peptic ulcer, cystitis, Several of these micro-organisms atopic disease, allergies are highly beneficial; the bulk of and pathogen-induced the remainder cause no harm diarrhoea.This army of but a few are potentially beneficial gut bacteria pathogenic and cause acts as the first line disease, if they are allowed of defence and to grow unchecked. It is therefore needs therefore quite critical to be carefully that the gut flora is kept in nurtured. balance. Trouble with the The metabolic activities gut flora quickly of the beneficial bacteria leads to trouble actually resemble those of in the body. an organ and it is sometimes So remember, even referred as the whatever promotes ‘forgotten’ organ. a good balance of These bacteria perform gut flora, will also many useful functions: they promote health.