Gut microbiome: touchpoint for health and wellness

April 5, 2024

The gut microbiome has become a touchpoint for all aspects of health and wellness. Over the last decade, it has become clear that the health of our digestive system plays a role in overall health and is oftentimes a primary driver for dysfunction, wherever it occurs in the body. A healthy gut microbiome is exemplified by diverse populations of bacteria, where both the type and amount of various microbiota groups are crucial factors in maintaining balance and proper function. There are all sorts of complex interactions between the gut microbiome and the host’s health, but put simply, when gut health improves it supports general wellbeing – people just feel better.

As science further elucidates the functions and activities of the gut, consumers have taken notice about the importance of a healthy gut. Interest in gut health has risen significantly in the past few years, which has resulted in more evident interest in dietary fiber. Consumer surveys show that many people are aware they need more fiber, despite the fact that few understand the mechanism by which (prebiotic) fibers act. There is evidence that the consumers are improving in their ability to understand that fermentable fibers have more benefits than insoluble ones.

Prebiotic effect

Prebiotic fibers – such as chicory inulin – are selectively fermented by certain groups of microbes in the gut which have been proven to have a beneficial impact on human health. These fibers are non-digestible carbohydrates which a broad range of plants use for energy storage.
When the fibers reach the gut, they feed beneficial microbes which in turn use them to reproduce and grow. This interaction is the hallmark of a prebiotic fiber and is also the best worldwide studied and an easily accessible way for most consumers to improve the health of
their gut microbiome.

Achieving and maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is a delicate balancing act. There are a wide range of microorganisms inhabiting our gut and their relative population dynamics dictate their interactions with one another and with their host, the human they live in. Fostering the growth of healthpromoting microorganisms while limiting the growth of undesirable ones is the overarching goal. Achieving this can result in numerous benefits such as improved digestion, insulin sensitivity, weight management as well as positive effects on mental health and immunity. Scientific evidence is increasing that consuming an adequate amount of prebiotic fibers in our diets provides a simple path towards realizing these benefits.

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