Our gut is extraordinary. It is made up of trillions of live bacteria (1) that help to not only digest food (2) but also play an important role in our overall health and wellbeing (2).
The key to preventing many health problems is to maintain a healthy gut. This is why it’s essential for us to consume foods and supplements that actively feed our gut with ‘friendly bacteria’ and fibre (3).
By delivering both, we reinforce the good bacteria in our guts whilst helping to shield ourselves from digestive problems, stress, poor immune defences, sleep issues and mood disorders.
To find out more about how diet and lifestyle can impact your gut health, click below.
Stress is widely known to have a negative impact on gut bacteria (1). One study that focused on university students found that as their stress levels increased throughout the semester, certain health-promoting gut bacteria decreased (2). This is because immune cells act as messengers that convey psychological stress to the gut (3) and the heightened inflammation that stress triggers boosts pathogenic bacteria. As the name suggests, these aren’t the good guys and can cause what’s known as dysbiosis (damaged or impaired microflora) that affect the gut barrier (4).
Your gut and the brain constantly communicate through something called the gut-brain axis (5). If you think about how your stomach might ache whenever you feel nervous or anxious about something - that’s a classic example of how emotions and stress can perturb gut motility.
This active brain-gut microbiome connection can also influence sleep quality. One study found that, microbiome diversity was positively correlated with increased sleep efficiency and total sleep time, but was negatively correlated with wake after sleep onset (6).
Digestive disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome are a common response to low quality and low diverse gut microflora (7) and through the gut-brain axis, these conditions can negatively impact mood (8). Additionally, more than 90% of the key mood stabilizing hormone, serotonin, in the human body is produced in the gut, therefore it is conceivable that serotonin secreted by gut microflora can influence the level of serotonin in our brain and then affect behaviour and mood (9). Good bacteria in our guts are also known from the production of some beneficial substances which may exert a direct antidepressant-like effect (10).
Skin health issues can be a sign of an unhealthy gut. When inflammation occurs in the gut as a result of poor diet, this could cause the leaking of certain proteins that cause skin irritations (11).
A Place for Probiotics
While we can take on lifestyle changes to lessen the impact of health disorders on the gut, probiotics can also play an important role in supporting gut microflora and the healthy functioning of our guts (12). This dual strategy is a positive way to help improve gut health and create a healthy and diverse microbiome.
1. Molina-Torres G, Rodriguez-Arrastia M, Roman P, Sanchez-Labraca N, Cardona D. Stress and the gut microbiota-brain axis. Behav Pharmacol. 2019;30(2 and 3-Spec Issue):187-200.
2. Knowles SR, Nelson EA, Palombo EA. Investigating the role of perceived stress on bacterial flora activity and salivary cortisol secretion: a possible mechanism underlying susceptibility to illness. Biol Psychol. 2008;77(2):132-7.
3. Yang T, Ahmari N, Schmidt JT, Redler T, Arocha R, Pacholec K, et al. Shifts in the Gut Microbiota Composition Due to Depleted Bone Marrow Beta Adrenergic Signaling Are Associated with Suppressed Inflammatory Transcriptional Networks in the Mouse Colon. Front Physiol. 2017;8:220.
4. Zeng MY, Inohara N, Nuñez G. Mechanisms of inflammation-driven bacterial dysbiosis in the gut. Mucosal Immunol. 2017;10(1):18-26.
5. Cryan JF, O'Riordan KJ, Cowan CSM, Sandhu KV, Bastiaanssen TFS, Boehme M, et al. The Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis. Physiol Rev. 2019;99(4):1877-2013.
6. Smith RP, Easson C, Lyle SM, Kapoor R, Donnelly CP, Davidson EJ, et al. Gut microbiome diversity is associated with sleep physiology in humans. PLoS One. 2019;14(10):e0222394.
7. Chong PP, Chin VK, Looi CY, Wong WF, Madhavan P, Yong VC. The Microbiome and Irritable Bowel Syndrome - A Review on the Pathophysiology, Current Research and Future Therapy. Front Microbiol. 2019;10:1136.
8. Mykletun A, Jacka F, Williams L, Pasco J, Henry M, Nicholson GC, et al. Prevalence of mood and anxiety disorder in self reported irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). An epidemiological population based study of women. BMC Gastroenterol. 2010;10:88.
9. Huang TT, Lai JB, Du YL, Xu Y, Ruan LM, Hu SH. Current Understanding of Gut Microbiota in Mood Disorders: An Update of Human Studies. Front Genet. 2019;10:98.
10. Smith PA. The tantalizing links between gut microbes and the brain. Nature. 2015;526(7573):312-4.
11. Salem I, Ramser A, Isham N, Ghannoum MA. The Gut Microbiome as a Major Regulator of the Gut-Skin Axis. Front Microbiol. 2018;9:1459.
12. Hemarajata P, Versalovic J. Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: mechanisms of intestinal immunomodulation and neuromodulation. Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2013;6(1):39-51.
Prebiotics are substances that feed the good bacteria in our gut (3) and are mainly fibre, which is a substance our body cannot digest.
The gut microbiota is fed prebiotics and converts them into smaller and highly beneficial compounds in a process called fermentation (3). These compounds are called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and are mainly known for:
What is Bimuno® GOS
Bimuno® GOS is a prebiotic fibre that contains a unique mixture of galactooligosaccharides (GOS) which are derived from lactose. When consumed, it travels through our digestive system, until it reaches the large intestine. Once there, it feeds and stimulates the growth of good bacteria – particularly bifidobacteria (12-17) . These are among the first microbes to live in our gastrointestinal tract and are thought to have many positive health benefits (11).
The science behind Bimuno® GOS is one of the most comprehensive of any commercially available prebiotic on the market today.
Its safety and efficacy is supported by dozens of scientific publications, including human clinical trials (12-17).
Clinical studies found that those who took Bimuno® GOS experienced:
Research shows that Bimuno® GOS can improve gastrointestinal symptoms in undiagnosed adults who suffer with bloating, abdominal pain, or flatulence(19), as well as, those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) (16, 17). Results were seen as quick as only 1 week of taking 1 serving a day (1.37 g) of Bimuno® GOS daily(16, 17, 19). The table below shows the reduction in symptoms across 1-2 weeks:
Patients with IBS found that taking 1 serving a day of Bimuno® GOS was enough to relieve them from flatulence (17), abdominal pain (16), distension (16) and bloating (16, 17) by 4 weeks. When 2 servings(2.75 g) of Bimuno® were taken every day for 4 weeks, patient questionnaires showed that it had also helped to improve their anxiety and general quality of life (17).
Another study looked at how Bimuno® GOS could help to improve diarrhoea in people who travelled to countries of risk (20,21). Those who took 2 servings (2.74 g) of Bimuno® GOS a day for at least 5 days pre-holiday and during the whole holiday period, reported lower incidents of diarrhoea (20, 21) and a significantly lower duration compared to the control group (20).
When Bimuno® GOS reaches the large intestine, it can influence the composition and activities of bifidobacteria. Low levels of this health-positive bacterium could negatively affect the balance of microbes, develop potentially harmful bacterial groups and deteriorate immune responses (22). Taking Bimuno® GOS on a daily basis showed an improvement in some aspects of immunity including:
Moreover, beneficial results from taking 2 servings of Bimuno® GOS after 5 weeks included:
Studies have shown that consuming 2 servings a day of Bimuno® GOS for 3 weeks was associated with decreased cortisol awakening reactivity (23) – a recognized indicator of stress/anxiety, that is normally increased by work stressors (24) and in people who are at risk of developing depression (25).
Additionally, participants who received 2 servings of Bimuno® GOS for 3 weeks showed increased attention to positive stimuli (23), which further proves their lower stress/anxiety level after treatment with Bimuno® GOS.
Bimuno® is a registered trademark of Clasado IP Limited.
Probiotics are good microorganisms including some bacteria or yeasts that help keep our body healthy and working well (26,27). So far, the most widely known probiotics are Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species that can inhibit the development of some pathogens, positively change our gut microbiota and boost the generation of highly beneficial substances from fibre containing food (49-51).
There is increasing evidence of the beneficial effects that these and many other probiotics may exert including:
B. lactis HN019™ is a probiotic bacteria originally isolated from a yogurt produced in New Zealand and has been consumed as part of dairy products for decades.
B. lactis HN019™ has been proven to successfully pass through our digestive system (34) and has been used both, as a single strain and in combination with other probiotics and prebiotics in many human clinical trials (35-48). These trials have included children, adults and the elderly.
B. lactis HN019™ has been shown to alleviate gastrointestinal issues and support gut movements.
One study focused on individuals with constipation after consuming 1 serving (min. 1 billion CFU) of B. lactis HN019™ every day for a month, and showed an improvement in bowel movements(40).
Improvements in gut transit time were also witnessed in those who suffered with gastrointestinal symptoms over the 14-day study period, who consumed a minimum of 1.8 billion CFU (2 servings) B. lactis HN019™(41).
In just 14 days, there were noticeable improvements in gastrointestinal symptoms when taking either 1 or 2 servings of B. lactis HN019™ per day(41). The higher dose (2 servings) appeared to help reduce 8 out of 9 of the gastrointestinal symptoms, while the lower dose (1 serving) showed a significant improvement on 7 out of 9 symptoms(41).
These results suggest B. lactis HN019™ can promote gut regularity naturally and safely.
A study focused on people over the age of 41 to see if consuming B. lactis HN019™ would stimulate some immune cells that play a key role in immune defences. They took 2 servings (2 billion CFU) of B. lactis HN019™ every day for at least 3 weeks with the results showing significantly greater improvements in the activity of some immune cells (39).
HOWARU® is a registered trademark of International Flavors and Fragrances Inc. or its affiliates.
HN019™ is a trademark of the Fonterra Group of companies used under license.