It’s a common misconception that the stomach is the rock star of the digestive system. In truth, while the stomach certainly offers a solid baseline by introducing digestive juices that break down protein, the intestines are really where digestion goes down. In the small intestines, the mixture of food and digestive juices from the stomach, called chyme, is mixed with other digestive juices including bile from the liver via the gall bladder and pancreatic juices from, yes, the pancreas, further breaking down carbs, fat, and protein. The walls of the intestines also absorb nutrients.
As if that weren’t groovy enough, both the small and large intestines are home to trillions of bacteria, both good and bad. The good bacteria aid digestion among other activities, such as supporting the immune system and (in the large intestine) producing short-chain fatty acids, which positively impact a number of metabolic functions in our bodies. Bad bacteria, on the other hand, hampers good bacteria and can create an imbalance in your system, oftentimes involving repeated trips to the bathroom. (That’s why it’s important to promote good bacteria!)
What’s more, emerging research shows gut bacteria may even impact your weight. A Washington University study on identical twins—one overweight and one thin—showed that they had entirely different gut microbiota, suggesting certain bacteria in your system may be associated with weight gain.
With all this in mind, it’s in your best interest to take care of your intestines and the little critters that inhabit them. Two of the best ways to do this are by consuming prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients, typically fiber, that make their way unscathed to the large intestine, where bacteria can feast on them. Prebiotic sources include garlic, onions, leeks, bananas, berries, various beans and whole grains—and Shakeology, where you’ll fine prebiotics from yacon root and chicory root.
Probiotics are another great tool for great gut health. They’re simply (good) bacteria that you can eat. (Sounds gross, but stay with me.) The idea is that they make their way to your gut and add to the existing population. Many foods that traditionally contained probiotics, like sauerkraut, pickles, and tempeh, may not if you bought them from the grocery store since pasteurization kills bacteria. There are a few items that still contain probiotics though, including yogurt, kefir, and kombucha. Shakeology also contains a strain of probiotics called Bacillus coagulans.
Combining all these intestine-lovin’ foods is a piece of cake. (Even though cake isn’t very gut-friendly.) For example, a breakfast of plain, Greek yogurt with sliced bananas and raspberries is a pro-and-prebiotic tour de force. Don’t like the taste of yogurt? Here’s a tip: stir in your favorite flavor of Shakeology. You’ll be making a decadent-tasting treat while supporting your digestive system!
Supporting gut health isn’t all that difficult. It’s just a matter of filling your diet with plenty of fresh, healthy foods—and your daily dose of dense nutrition, Shakeology.
Hi I'm Kelly Richards Mulloy a stay at home mom of 6. I am on a journey to change my life inside and out. Health and fitness, staying young, join me.