From the launch of our formula in 2000, ‘Vital Greens’ has constantly evolved to reflect progress in nutritional research and to improve bio-availability of the formula’s many individual ingredients.
Recently there have been advances in the commercial development of probiotics, greatly improving their stability. Additionally there has been a huge increase in information about our individually unique Gut Microbiome and its role in our digestive and overall health. Combined with new information on the optimal amounts of individual probiotics, there has been a greater understanding of the need for the presence of pre-biotics in our diet, of which Inulin is the most effective example. With all these developments, we thougsht it would be a good time to update our pre- and probiotic profile of all the Vital products.
As naturopaths, we have always believed good health begins with the healthy functioning of our digestive system. Every single human being has an individually unique microbial ecosystem in our bodies which is seeded during birth called the Microbiome. The Human Microbiome is the wide range of live bacteria that populate your whole gastro-intestinal system from the mouth down. They’re dynamic – constantly multiplying, dividing, growing and dying inside you and are essential to digestion, nutrient absorption and food breakdown even good immunity, mood balance and breathing. In short life itself! One recent study even suggests that compromised gut bacteria is a major cause of the recent upsurge of behavioural conditions like autism and depression!
With approximately 100 trillion microbial cells, residing mainly in the digestive tract of our body, it’s not surprising that the Gut Microbiome is often referred to as our ‘Hidden Organ’. Going beyond well-known and established yoghurt, Fermented Foods such as Sauerkraut, Kefir and even Kim-chi are now easily available in urban western societies. There is growing concern that Western-style diets (high-fat, high-sugar, low fibre) may be responsible for the adverse changes in the diversity of our microbiome that have been seen recently.
PRE- AND PROBIOTICS – What are they? Why are they so important?
Not so well understood (yet) is the vital role that pre-biotics which (along with other benefits) maximise the effectiveness of probiotics. The most important prebiotic in food, Inulin, plays a vital role in supporting optimal nourishment and diversity for our individual gut microbiome. Inulin is a starch or carbohydrate, commonly found in root vegetables such as asparagus, leeks, artichokes and garlic. Unlike most nutrients, inulin is not digested in the stomach or small intestine so it arrives in the colon undigested and feeds specifically the good bacteria in our large intestine. Recent animal studies confirm inulin may prevent pre-cancerous changes in the colon and provide an environment hostile to the tutor development. It has also been demonstrated to improve general digestion and increases our intake of a large number of minerals including calcium and magnesium from food in our diet. Another major benefit includes improving heart health by lowering blood triglycerides and cholesterol. We’ve nearly doubled the previous Inulin level in Vital Greens from 417mg to 800mg/10g serve in recognition of its important role in gut health.
Probiotics have always been an integral part of Vital Greens because as naturopaths we’ve always believed many of the common chronic illnesses in western society begin in the digestive system. Probiotics can help remedy the consequences of our modern diet with its high sugar and alcohol and low fibre intake, or the use of antibiotics and their common use in the production of meat and fish. Probiotics can restore the balance in your individual microbiome by maintaining and restoring the good bacteria in your gut.
There is a wide variety of strains of probiotics to consider when formulating. We chose the following hardest-working, versatile, adaptive and stable bacteria available to add to the Vital range.
You probably understand how probiotics aid digestion and assimilation, but they do a whole lot more. An optimal level of Bifidobacterium bifidum breaks down fibre and coats the inner lining of your intestines, protecting the actual gut lining against damage from toxins and germs. This is very handy when you consider 70-80% of your immune response occurs right there! Among many other benefits, recent research has shown that this bacterium helps prevent colds and flu. In addition probiotics like B.bifidum product critical vitamins like B12, Biotin and K2. At birth B. bifidum makes up nearly 95% of your intestinal bacteria!
Probably the most familiar strain seen for years in commercial yoghurts etc yet also occurring naturally in the body. The numerous benefits of Lactobacillus acidophilus include cardiovascular health, immune function and digestion. It’s stand out feature is its ability to assist the body to digest lactose by producing lactase – an enzyme which digests dairy products in the body.
Bifidobacterium lactis – The ‘Gut Soother’
Found in all fermented vegetable and dairy products. The strain is best known for its major role in bowel health, promoting peristalsis (gut movement from one end to the other), prevents and treats diarrhoea and gut inflammatory problems such as ulcerative colitis and Coeliac Disease. Similar to the other strains, Bifidobacterium lactis also helps fight lactose intolerance, and to digest all fibres and sugars and even helps with respiratory ailments and infections.
Bifidobacterium longum – The ‘Nerve Soother’
The distinctive property of this bacterium is its ability to help decrease gastrointestinal problems caused by mood and psychological distress. Animal and human studies in 2011 confirmed these properties and their benefits on the Central Nervous System with measured decreases in depression, anger, hostility and anxiety reactions amongst subjects. In addition there are proven preventative actions on the formation of pre-cancerous tutors in the colon.