To really understand digestion and how to have good gut health, it is important to understand what is really ruling roost down there, the GALT and the MALT.
The body has a natural defense system built into the intestines: the GALT (gut associated lymphoid tissues) and MALT (mucosa associated lymphoid tissue). Together the GALT and MALT are made of our immune system, trillions of beneficial bacteria, a mucus barrier that lines the intestines.
Truly, we have just begun to understand the role of GALT and MALT in the big picture of human health. They actually communicate to protect the body from bad bacteria moving in and influence inflammation and the rate of digestion. (1)
A variety of factors influence the GALT and MALT: where you live, what you eat, your genetic profile and even medications. Some of those things are outside of your control, although some are not. (1) (2) Let’s look at what we can control.
What damages the GALT and MALT
Anti-biotic medications are also not selective; they destroy the good with the bad. When the bacteria is disrupted it can lead to permeability of the intestinal tract and allow molecules to pass through the protective barrier, this is leaky gut.
Nutrition is important and diets void of the important nutrients that bacteria need to survive can reduce the number of beneficial bacteria or encourage un-healthy bacteria. (3)
What nourishes the GALT and MALT
Probiotics are bacteria found in supplements and foods that nourish the amount of healthy bacteria in the gut. Undigested starches and fiber nourish the bacteria in our guts, these are called the prebiotics. The science is strong in support of how to nourish the gut. Choosing to incorporate prebiotics and probiotics is like eating a match made in gut heaven!
There really are a variety of ways to combine these foods. Here are a few prebiotic/probiotic combinations to get you started.
Top a bowl of steel cut oatmeal with blueberries, sliced bananas and yogurt.
Eat vegetarian chili topped with plain greek yogurt
Make a kefir and fruit smoothie to drink
Miso soup and salad
Roasted Jerusalem artichokes topped with sauerkraut
- Mahan, L. K., & Raymond, J. L. (2017). Krauses food & the nutrition care process. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.
- Hold, G. L., Smith, M., Grange, C., Watt, E. R., El-Omar, E. M., & Mukhopadhya, I. (2014, February 07). Role of the gut microbiota in inflammatory bowel disease pathogenesis: What have we learnt in the past 10 years? Retrieved June 22, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3921503/
- Filippoa, C. D., Cavalieria, D., Paolab, M. D., Ramazzottic, M., Poulletd, J. B., Massartd, S., . . . Pieraccinie, A. G. (n.d.). Impact of diet in shaping gut microbiota revealed by a comparative study in children from Europe and rural Africa. Retrieved June 22, 2017, from http://www.pnas.org/content/107/33/14691.full