Gut Health

Understanding Your Gut Health

Your gut contains Microbiomes that are essential for gut health and the prevention of colon cancer. The “good” bacteria in the colon produce and aid in feeding Colon cells while suppressing the growth of cancer cells. This week on Fox 17, Dr. Bitner defines a microbiome and explains how probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics, all work together to keep your gut healthy.

Let’s define a Microbiome

A Microbiome is a collection of bacteria, viruses, yeast, or fungi that live on and in us, including in our gut. The biome is essential in breaking down food into nutrients for our body to absorb in the intestines. It also helps to process medications. Your environment influences your biome, including where you live, what you eat, and your age. Our mood, food cravings, and sugar storage are also affected by the health and function of our biome. 

Breaking it down

Probiotics are the bacteria found in our gut. When looking at your overall metabolic health, it’s important to understand if your body is beneficially responding to food intake. Diet is the most important component of gut health, and helps you determine if the bacteria in your gut is healthy. Avoiding unnecessary antibiotics is also essential. Antibiotics wipe out our gut bacteria. Taking a probiotic supplement is beneficial for replenishing the gut with good bacteria as long as it gets to our colon. There are many options for probiotics to take. Do your research on the way to intake probiotics that would best work for you; a couple of examples would be a capsule form or by drinking Kombucha (which is rich in probiotics). 

Prebiotics are most commonly found in fiber and are essential for the survival of bacteria. It is crucial to meet the recommended amount of fiber intake per a day, which is between 30-35 grams of fiber per day. Most Americans only get about 5 grams of fiber per day, and lack of fiber is a contributor to a higher colon cancer risk in young American adults. Try adding these top five fiber foods to your diet: green peas, avocados, berries, beans (legumes), and barley or farro. Shoot for over 5 grams of fiber in each meal to reach your daily goal and keep your gut fed with the right nutrients.

Postbiotics are what gut bacteria make. An example of a postbiotic is butyrate, which is important in reducing your risk for colon cancer. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid that feeds cells lining the walls of the colon and supports the healthy function of other bacteria. Postbiotics also prevent colon cancer cell growth.. Those who have colon cancer typically do not have many bacteria that make butyrate.

Patient Story:

Jane, 49, came in for a colonoscopy and was nervous to hear the results due to a family history of colon cancer and signs of poor metabolic health. She had gained 25 pounds and her blood tests showed prediabetes and high cholesterol. 

Jane was trying her best to make good lifestyle choices to reduce her risk of colon cancer. She prioritized checkups and prevention screenings, such as polyps and repeat colonoscopies. She knew fiber was essential to include in her diet but wondered what else she could do? 

After examining her diet more closely, Jane realized she only consumed about 10 grams of fiber daily. She mostly ate fruit, rice, meat, and salad. She shared that her bowel movements were not always well-formed, and hemorrhoids were an issue. 

Although Jane knew fiber was important, she wasn’t eating the right foods to meet the recommended amount. Because she didn’t have the right nutrients to fuel a healthy gut, she was experiencing signs of poor metabolic health. Jane needed to adjust her diet to add more fiber. To ensure she started getting prebiotics, Jane started to take a coated fibercon pill to reach the colon, where the bacteria really needs fiber. Jane also started incorporating probiotic powder as well as yogurt and kombucha into her daily routine.

Since Jane prioritized early checkups, she was able to improve her diet and add essential prebiotics and postbiotics to improve her gut health and reduce her risk of colon cancer. Jane saw an improvement in her overall feeling during the day by improving bloating, feeling less moody, and beginning to see regularity in her bowel movements. 

Health tips of the week:

  • Add high-fiber foods to your diet; your gut will thank you!
  • Consider adding a probiotic to improve your bowel function. It will likely improve your metabolic health as well! 
  • Avoid antibiotics unless necessary. If you must take them, keep up on fiber and prebiotics!

Watch the full segment.