Your doctor may have mentioned that gut health affects mood, cholesterol levels, immunity and cardiovascular health. Reducing sugar intake and increasing fiber is good advice. However, new research has found that a specific gut microorganism has a strong influence on gut health. Unfortunately, the champion bifidobacteria declines significantly with age. Scientists have found an antidote: a probiotic called xylooligosaccharides (XOS). Taking very small doses of XOS increased bifidobacteria populations in the gut.
How Bifidobacteria Affects Gut Health
The human digestive system relies on a wide variety of microorganisms. These tiny helpers assist with digestion. However, some microorganisms in the gut have a negative effect on overall health. Research is showing that the right balance of gut microorganisms is crucial to good health. Gut bacteria health is linked to macular degeneration.
Bifidobacteria is one of many “good” bacterium in the gut. Having enough of them helps immunity by reducing inflammation. Research is pointing toward this microorganism as a defense against heart disease, diabetes, infections, cancer, and allergies.
How to Improve Gut Health
General guidelines for increasing healthy gut balance include:
- Reduce refined sugar intake. Refined sugar feeds unhealthy microorganisms.
- Increase soluble fiber. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Take a daily fiber supplement such as psyllium husks (unsweetened Metamucil).
- Enjoy fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and miso.
- Take a probiotic daily
Probiotics for Increasing Bifidobacteria Populations
A probiotic called xylooligosaccharides has shown to significantly increase bifidobacteria populations. In a small controlled study, subjects took XOS in tiny amounts – 1 or 2 grams.
Bifidobacteria counts increased significantly. The more the subjects took, the faster the results. XOS only increased bifidobacteria counts. It did not increase any negative microorganism populations.
The results showed that the body expelled more cholesterol. Also, acidity in the stools increased. Acidity discourages the growth of harmful microorganisms.