We've recently teamed up with Katherine Hay of Kaptured Nutrition for our Good range - our everyday range that’s good for you, good value, while still bursting with flavour. We know how much goodness and love goes into each bag, but we wanted to get an expert opinion on exactly why this range and eating whole foods and using probiotics is good for our guts, immune system, and health and wellbeing in general. So, without any further ado here is what Katherine had to say...
Our digestive system is delicate, complex and powerful. There are more bacteria cells living in our gut than there are human cells. Mind blown! Thanks to scientific research we now know the microbes residing in our gut can influence our basic emotions, our pain sensitivities, control our immune system, support hormone regulation, help us digest and utilise the food we are eating for energy and nutrition and even guide us to make decisions. Always trust your gut.
Bacteria has been given a bad rep over the years. It’s commonly associated with uncleanliness, infections and other threats to our health. However, not all bacteria is equal! In fact, we couldn’t survive without it.
Friendly bacteria 101
Gastrointestinal bacteria (AKA gut flora or gut microbiotia) are found in the gastrointestinal tract of the digestive system, more specifically the large intestine. More than 10 trillion bacteria live in the intestines of a healthy human. For context, that’s 130 times the total number of humans on this planet! Many different species of bacteria are found throughout our gut, and these bacteria rely heavily on the pH of the stomach for survival. Friendly bacteria, also known as good/beneficial gut flora or probiotics live in the subtle folds of the intestinal walls and are essential for gastrointestinal health and immunity.
The guardian of our gut
Probiotics (formally known as probiotic microorganisms) are gut heroes! They harmoniously balance and stabilise our intestinal microflora, keeping potential threats like bad bacteria and other nasties such as pathogens in check. We now know that there is a direct link between gut health and our immune system, and there is a growing bank of evidence that suggests the importance of probiotics for immune system support and regulation. In short, probiotics are essential because they are the ‘good bacteria’ that help us synthesize the food we eat for optimal nourishment, help prevent disease and create a healthy thriving gut microflora.
Throughout our lives, we are constantly exposed to nasty pathogenic bacteria, toxins from our environment and from our food. Thankfully most of the time we don’t even realize this bacteria is affecting our health thanks to our immune system and the gut microbflora and how it plays a role in protecting our body from serious infection and ill-health. Our immune system, alongside the good gut bugs, are constantly maintaining the fine balance between reaction or tolerance.
Home of the immune system
More than 75% of our immune system cells live in the gut and there is constant communication between these cells and the bacteria to maintain and protect the gastrointestinal barrier also know as the gut wall. To put it simply, a healthy and intact gut wall maintains good gut heath. When we eat or take in something bad containing pathogenic bacteria, or when we’re suffering from inflammation, our gut wall to becomes ‘leaky’ which fires up our body’s defence system - the immune system. Even though our body is trying to protect itself, it can lead to unhelpful consequences like auto-immune disease and many other chronic health conditions.
As scary as this sounds, our wonderful bodies are super smart and in most cases totally capable of managing all of this and keeping us safe and health...IF we take care of ourselves and make good food and lifestyle choices.
Probiotic-rich foods are extremely important to help maintain optimal levels of the good bugs within our digestive tract. Farmer Jo’s got us covered with their exceptionally gut-friendly ingredients in their ‘Good Range’ of granola and muesli.
Gut friendly foods
The food we eat has the biggest impact on the health of our gut microbiome and our immune system defenses. Consuming a diverse range of plant-based foods which are high in fiber (nuts and seeds), resistant starch (complex carbs like oats and brown rice), and polyphenols (plant chemicals, usually with dark pigments, like cacao, berries, spinach) has been shown to promote the growth of the good bacteria by providing feeding them with the nutrients they need to help them thrive within the large intestine.
Thanks to scientific research, we now know the importance of plants and how they naturally increase the diversity of the gut microflora. And luckily, the science shows that we don’t need complex solutions to achieve good gut health. Simply eat more plants and lots of different varieties. Diversity is key.
Plant-based foods 🤔 Let’s break it down.
Plant-based foods that our gut microbes and immune system love and reply on are fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes and complex carbohydrates. Some of these plant-based foods contain prebiotic rich compounds which are a type of fiber that the human body can’t digest, which is why they serve as food for the good bacteria. Without prebiotics, probiotics don’t have the chance to survive. They literally starve.
Plant-based foods are also extremely high in fiber which in turn has gut-mediated benefits for a healthy digestive system. High fiber helps increase healthy bacteria in the gut that has been shown to reduce cholesterol, help regulate blood sugar levels and support the immune system. Fiber helps to produce short chain fatty acids and these naturally help repair the large intestine. Increasing fiber helps keep our bowel motions regular, and let’s be honest who doesn’t love doing a great poo every day!
Farmer Jo’s Good range is made from whole foods and contains all of these wonderful plant-based foods that support a healthy gut microbiome and keep the immune system strong. Starting the day with a bowl of whole food granola or muesli will play an important role in contributing to a diverse diet rich in these plant chemicals and keeping our microbes happy.
Ultimately, food is our first medicine to support our gut, immune system and overall health and wellbeing and luckily we can get all the goodness we need as well as enjoying a yummy breakfast!