Wine lovers beware, I’m about to go on a bit of a tangent but we will get back to wine eventually and you’ll learn lots along the way.
We probably know more about the hidden depths of the sea that we know about our very own teeny tiny gut, doesn’t that make us seem like extraordinarily complex creatures? I think that more recently, the focus on the importance of prebiotics and probiotics has been on the rise, but we still haven’t quite got to grips with it.
My own interest was sparked a couple of years ago because of my extremely intelligent friend Emily Meredith who is fascinated by bacteria after studying it closely while at University. Em even went so far as to tell a complete stranger on Tinder (I think, as a chat up line) that when you kiss, between 10 million to 10 billion bacteria are exchanged…it’s safe to say he didn’t reply but he didn’t really sound cultured enough for our Emily anyway.
There are 100,000 times more microbes in your gut than there are humans on the planet, they equate to around 3 kg of our body weight and among this mass of microbes there is an abundance of immune cells too. The latest research of the gut is leading scientists to believe that our gut is a bit like a second brain (this isn’t groundbreaking) and our diets are crucial to proper cognitive function.
Lately, I have seen even more posts that usual on how to cope with anxiety and depression, possibly because people put a lot of pressure on themselves at this time of year. Big Think writes, “Humans are collectively experiencing increased rates of anxiety, which is now the planet’s more pervasive psychological disorder. Increased stress has numerous destructive tendencies in our guts, including the alteration of contractions. transit rates between our stomach and large intestine, and blood flow.”
So, while we may be stressed because of work, commitments, relationships or something else, we need to do the utmost to keep our gut healthy to prevent it turning into something more serious in the long run.
You can look after your gut bacteria by keeping a good diet that is low in sugar, exercising at the very least three times a week and especially through stress releasing exercises such as meditation and yoga. There’s also a quick fix (ideally used alongside diet and exercise) and that is the intake of probiotics. New research, carried out by Ruixue Huang at the Xiangya School of Public Health in Hunan, China stated, “The gut-brain relationship is bidirectional, meaning that changes in microbial flora can affect behavior, and behavioral changes can affect the gut flora.”
The team working alongside Ruixue Huang studied humans with anxiety disorders and tested treatment with a variety of different probiotics including well-known strains Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casci. Out of 660 human subjects, the results were conclusive, probiotics significantly decreased anxiety. They’re not saying they have found a cure, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
Another recent study looked at exercise and the maintenance of a healthy gut. The University of Illinois used 18 lean and 14 sedentary obese subjects for their study. The subjects were allowed to stick to their normal diet but were put on a regime where they had to do an hour of cardiovascular activities, three times a week for six weeks.
Each subject’s microbiome was sampled before and after the program via a fecal sample. Interestingly, the results showed notable increases in fecal concentrations for STFAs seen in the lean subjects, but smaller increases in the obese subjects. What this discovery has revealed is the strong correlation between the importance of exercise and the diversity of healthy gut bacteria – but it is dependent on obesity status.
That’s it for now on the subject of bacteria, but hopefully it’s taught you about the importance of what you use a fuel for you body. Now then, where can you get the probiotics and prebiotics that you need.
That’s right sports fans, wine is a probiotic, keeping those guts healthy and the anxiety at bay. Red wine encourages probiotic growth in your gut (which means it’s a prebiotic too) and this means that all those good bacteria working away in there have something to keep them going. Think of it as the bacteria are plants, and the wine glass a watering can, exactly. Not only is wine a feeder, but it contains its very own probiotics too. You’re likely to find Oenococcus oeni, which helps protect your immune system.
As long as the tablets are in a casing (so haven’t reacted with oxygen) then supplements can be a great option. Look for the three most important strains; L. acidophilus, B. longum and B. bifidum for the best probiotic supplement and make sure they have been manufactured in an environment that ensures the survival of the bacteria. In the past, I have used OptiBac and they’ve worked really well for me. You can buy them on Amazon.
If you’re a fan of yogurt, that’s great news because it’s one of the best sources of probiotics due to the process of milk fermentation. Always choose yogurt with active or live cultures, a Frube probably isn’t going to do the job.
Pickle & Ferment
Pickled and fermented foods are perfect for keeping a healthy gut, we just don’t eat enough of them in this country. I have a bit of an addiction to pickled onions which is where I get my kicks but gherkins, cucumbers, beetroot and anything else that has been left to ferment in a salty water solution will provide a good source of probiotics.
Great news for cheese lovers (guilty) because a lot of cheese contains highly nutritious protein and good bacteria. Look for live and active cultures on the food labels but you’re generally safe with Gouda, Mozzerella, Cheddar and Cottage Cheese. Cheese is just so great.
This evening I am going to be going to the gym like normal and then I’m going to share a giant Camembert with a few bottles of red…expect a review and some more wine education soon.