Our gut is the home of trillions of microorganisms that belong to hundreds of different species. Gut microbiota can, in total, account for up to 2 kg of our body weight, which is almost as much as the weight of our brain. It is not only involved in food digestion and nutrients absorption, but also plays a key role on people’s physical and mental health.
In the last few years, researchers showed how gut microbiota keeps us healthy, as it represents the first line of defence against disease and it modulates not only digestive tract functions, but also immune system responses and brain activities.
About one third of the gut microbiota is common to most people, while two thirds are specific to each one of us, making anyone’s gut bacteria profile as unique as a fingerprint. Even though gut bacteria community composition varies among people, in the last few years, scientists were able to establish that a healthy gut microbiota is a highly populated and diverse one in which there is a right ratio between “good” bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillii and “bad” bacteria such as Clostridia and Bacteroides.
The development of a healthy, stable, diverse and resilient gut microbiota begins at birth and continues during all stages of life. Early life events and lifestyle and diet choices play a very important role on shaping our gut bacteria community. As an example, several human studies have suggested that high-fat and low in fibre diets such as the Western diet, decreases not only gut microbiota diversity but also overall microorganism number leading to bacteria population imbalance (called gut dysbiosis).
Gut bacteria profile imbalance is often observed in people with non-communicable diseases such as obesity, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diabetes, depression, impaired immunity, skin diseases or non-food allergies.
Given the amounting body of evidence that links gut health to overall health and well-being, it doesn’t come as a surprise that consumer awareness on this topic has been rising in the past few years. Already in 2018, about 78% of the global population considered digestive/gut health very or extremely important and, nowadays, following COVID-19 lockdowns, gut health moved to the top of people’s health agenda.
So how can people strive for a healthy gut? Lifestyle changes such as an increase in physical activity and dietary intervention have been proven highly effective on reversing gut dysbiosis and keeping a healthy gut status. An number of studies showed that increasing the consumption of foods containing probiotics and prebiotics is a very effective way to restore an imbalanced gut and keep a healthy one. Probiotics are living bacteria that can survive the digestive process and colonize the gut. They can be found in yoghurt. Prebiotics are compounds such as (but not limited to) fibers that can be found in fibre rich breads and sourdough. Prebiotics compounds feed the gut bacteria community and help to keep the right balance between the different species.
However, it is important to remember that local regulatory landscapes do not often match scientific findings. In some countries, sound scientific evidences published in peer reviewed journals are required to back up front of package finished products claims. In other countries, claims can be only used if they match criteria of the health claims previously approved by local authorities. For more information on claims in your country, reach out to your Puratos Sales Representative who can provide you with that regulation information.
Following our Health & Well-Being commitment of “providing consumers with outstanding products that help them to fulfill their healthy lifestyle needs” we are currently working on expanding our Happy Gut offer options: new product releases based on established and novel technologies are just few months away. We can offer a sneak preview to what is to come: Puravita Fibre+ addresses the strict European regulatory requirement that will enable you to produce breads carrying a health claim related to gut health on top of the high in fibre nutritional claim.