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Why is Gut Health Important?

Over 2,000 years ago, the Greek physician Hippocrates prophesied that “All disease begins in the gut.”

It only took 21 centuries, but society is finally catching on to his claim about gut health.

What is Gut Health?

Having good gut health requires having a healthy gut microbiome.

What is your gut microbiome you may ask?

  • Your gut (i.e. your small and large intestine) is a miniature biome (ecosystem)
  • Trillions of microscopic organisms (microbiota) live inside this small- and large-intestine biome
  • Most of these microbiota have a symbiotic relationship with us (i.e. we both benefit from showing each other a little love).
    • We provide these microbiota with food and shelter, and—in exchange—they provide us with important bodily services and protection from potentially harmful microbes.

What Can Happen if You Have Poor Gut Health?

When there is an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the gut microbiome, a thing called dysbiosis occurs.

Dysbiosis can have a substantial effect on the nervous and immune systems, and it has also been shown to cause many chronic diseases including:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Obesity, and
  • Cancer

Dysbiosis can be caused by host-specific factors such as:

Medication (e.g. antibiotic use) also plays a large role in determining what kinds of microbiota live in your gut. In fact, researchers have pointed out that broad‐spectrum antibiotics reduce gut-microbiota diversity and can eradicate beneficial microbes with bad consequences for the host.

Symptoms of an unhealthy gut include:

  • Heartburn
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

What Are the Benefits of a Healthy Gut?

Good gut health occurs when you have a balance between the good (helpful) and bad (potentially harmful) bacteria in your digestive system.

Some of the benefits of having a healthy gut include:

Improved Immune System

“The microbiome and the immune system are critically intertwined,” says Jonathan Jacobs, MD, PhD, a professor of digestive diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “What’s present in the gut determines what education immune cells get.

Improved Digestion

Your gut microbiome plays a role in your body’s ability to digest food and metabolize nutrients.

Reduced Inflammation

The balance of bacteria in the gut flora can also lead to many health benefits, including reducing inflammation that can lead to heart disease and lowering the chance of obesity.

Mental Health Benefits

Studies have shown that having a diverse and balanced gut microbiota, we may potentially reduce the risk or severity of anxiety and depression.

Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and its Complications

Differences in gut microbiota composition have been observed in patients with Type 2 diabetes and complications such as diabetic nephropathy, diabetic retinopathy, and diabetic neuropathy. By promoting a healthy gut, we have the potential to reduce these risks.

How to Improve Gut Health

Diet plays a big role in determining what kinds of microbiota live in your gut.

Following a gut-microbiome-friendly diet is one way to increase and diversify good bacteria in your gut.

Most people opt for a “Westernized” way of eating (e.g. a diet high in fat and sugar—and low in fiber), which is a problem because those trillions of good bacteria in your gut really love fiber.

Resistant dietary carbohydrates—like the indigestible resistant wheat starch found in Hero Bread—are fermented to short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) by the gut bacteria. Fiber and omega-3 rich diets increase SCFA production and abundance of SCFA-producing bacteria.

Researchers say that SCFAs can improve:

  • Gut-barrier integrity
  • Glucose
  • Lipid metabolism

SCFAs can also regulate the:

  • Immune system
  • Inflammatory response
  • Blood pressure

Therefore, targeting the gut microbiota with dietary strategies leading to increased SCFA production may benefit cardio-metabolic health.

How Does Prebiotic Fiber Help with Gut Health?

Prebiotic soluble fibers (i.e. a food source for your gut’s microorganisms/microbiota) are fermented by beneficial bacteria in the colon to produce SCFAs.

In your gut, resistant wheat starch also acts as a prebiotic fiber.

Hero Bread’s White Bread and Seeded Bread contain resistant wheat starch—as do our Flour Tortillas, Hot Dog Buns and Burger Buns— and can be used for all kinds of recipes that punch up the power of prebiotic fiber.