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There’s a Party Happening in your Gut….Want to know how good it is?

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Today I am sharing the details of an interesting study regarding Gut Health. It’s not my study but I have been asked to share it. The subject of Gut bacteria is one that I have been meaning to write about for some time, so this seems like a good opportunity.

But what is Gut Health?

We know that our gut contains “good and “bad” bacteria, just like our vaginas in fact! But what makes a bacteria “good” or “bad” and  why do we have them? Well the bacteria and ourselves have a symbiotic relationship. We feed them, and they help with our Metabolism, weight control, our brain health and they even help to make Vitamins.

The better the mixture of bacteria, the  better our gut’s health. Think of it like a lime of people. A nice mix of talkers, listeners jokers, dancers is essential to a good party. But if one type of group starts to dominate it can skew the dynamic. For example, one too many drunken bores banging on about politics, or a crazy dancer banging in to people.

Sometimes there isn’t enough of a mix and one type does dominate.  A less diverse microbiome is associated with weight gain, and sometimes Type 2 Diabetes.  That’s why this study is trying to recruit people with Type 2 Diabetes to see what their gut diversity is like.

So how do we improve the mix?

Well the bacteria need feeding. And the more diverse our diet is, the more diverse the lime is.

You’ve probably seen all the ads for Prebiotics and probiotics. Is it hype and are the sellers just trying to take your money?

Prebiotics are food for bacteria. We don’t need to spend a fortune on these, and in fact we don’t have to really think about them at all if we eat fresh fruit and vegetables and a variety of things, and stay away from processed foods. That’s because Prebiotics occur naturally in a varied high fiber diet. You will read about the prebiotics called  “Inulins”, and “Galato-oligosaccharides” and “Fructo-oligosaccarides”(FOS). These are contained by certain foods and bacteria feast on these. You  will read that “fermented foods” like “Kaffir” and “Sauerkraut” and “Miso” and Kimchi are good  probiotics.. These hail from the Middle east, Germany, Japan and Korea respectively….But this is Trinidad and we are good at our own diverse limes – so instead we can make sure we keep our lime sweet by feeding our bacteria with Bananas (which contain something called Inulins) and Tomatoes. Trinidad is famous for cocoa and cocoa flavonoids contained in dark chocolate are good for our gut microbiome too. We love to cook with garlic and garlic too contains Inulin and FOS. So do onions! Olives are also a good source of Prebiotics and believe it or not Sea Weed contains Polysaccharides .

Probiotics on the other hand are actual bacteria that we consume. Bio live yogurt cultures are a good  example.  Some people even buy probiotic bacteria- things like Enterogermina….but unless we have a specific need for these (like we’ve just been on a broad spectrum antibiotic that’s wiped out a lot of our good gut bacteria ) we don’t really need to take these all the time….Just eating lots of fiber and getting exercise has been shown to improve our gut heath.

So be a Trini, keep your lime diverse and you don’t need to spend the big bucks!

Check out this study to see if you are eligible. It might be fun to know and they are paying $500 per person just for your poo!

It is a NIH funded research project in collaboration with Prof.  Dan Ramdath (of University of Guelph) and the J. Craig Venter Institute (USA), in which they are recruiting people of Afro-Trinidadian descent with and without diabetes. The study will assess the evolution of the human gut microbiota amongst the African Diaspora in Trinidad and its association with risk for type 2 diabetes.  Participants in TT will be compared with a population of similar genetics from sub Saharan Africa. The study has been approved by the Research Ethics Board of the UWI and the NCRHA.