Is Moss the Solution to Boosting Your Gut Health? New Prebiotic
8 minute read
Millions of Americans suffer from gastrointestinal disorders, and the majority are related to what we eat. Your mom always told you to eat more greens, and, while this is beneficial, it’s not likely that she meant for you to eat moss.
That’s right. Moss. The green stuff we find on rocks. Despite the common assumption, recent studies have found that moss could have just what your gut needs to stay healthy in the fast food world that we live in.
Going Green for Your Gut
An international group of scientists recently discovered a complex carbohydrate in moss that can be used to benefit human health. The polysaccharide within the moss strongly resembles the gut-friendly beta glucan compounds found in cereal grains.
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Beta glucan, which is not found in plants, provides numerous health benefits. Moss has a very similar carbohydrate (as well as dietary fiber) that is thought to deliver the same beneficial function as the beta-glucan carbohydrate we find in everyday foods.
While the exact inner workings of the mystery carbohydrate in moss are not yet known, scientists are hopeful that it could provide benefits to gut health. With the Western diet damaging our gut health with excess fat and sugar intake, we could use all the help we can get.
Research continues to look at the potential for using this moss carbohydrate as a supplement and health benefit. With its structure and biological makeup closely resembling beta-glucan, the hope is that we will end up with a prebiotic supplement that can boost gut health.
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The bacteria that live in your gut must remain in balance so as to prevent harmful strains from taking over. The prebiotic qualities of the moss compound could help maintain this balance, and is the reason why many people already use probiotic supplements containing prebiotics.
When your gut microbiome is balanced, your digestive system runs more smoothly, and your immune system has additional support.
Your friendly flora communicates regularly with your immune cells, essentially instructing them on how to respond to infections. At the same time, constant communication occurs with your brain and nervous system, showing that your microbiome impacts much more than just gut health.
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Including prebiotics in your diet is a great way to keep your gut bacterial community in balance. These are food ingredients which serve as food sources for your gut bacteria.
The bacteria thrive when regularly supplied with these ingredients, such as dietary fiber. By promoting the growth of beneficial bacterial strains, you ensure that the more harmful ones are kept in-check, and your health is maintained.
If this moss turns out to be a prebiotic, going green could really boost your health.
Importance of Prebiotics
The carbohydrate discovered in the moss grabbed attention because it resembles an important prebiotic that our bodies crave. Beta-glucan is a dietary fiber that your gut bacteria needs to flourish and protect you.
Sadly, individuals in this country do not get all the fiber they need. Without it, your gut microbiome can become unbalanced and harmful strains can take over.
When this happens, you run the risk of increased inflammation and serious disease.
Just as you need food to survive, so too does your gut bacteria. Providing dietary fiber (prebiotics) is all the food they need. The processed, high-fat, and sugary foods that plague our diets also act as a food source, but only to the more harmful strains.
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Prebiotics can pass through the digestive system without being broken down. This means they reach the gut as intact sources of fuel for your gut bacteria.
As mentioned, a thriving gut colony enhances your overall health. The inclusion of prebiotics in your diet gives energy to this colony, so that it can efficiently and effectively provide the health services you need.
Here are a few of the many benefits of prebiotics:
Improved digestive health: Prebiotics increase the number of beneficial microorganisms in your gut, and these can digest fibers that your gut would otherwise struggle with. Digestion of these fibers produces fatty acids which improve the health of your intestinal lining and enhance absorption of essential minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
Prebiotics allow your gut to function at optimal levels thus protecting you from serious diseases such as IBS, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.
Immune support: Prebiotics help to regulate biomarkers involved in immune system responses. They are also able to control the activities of cancer-promoting enzymes that reside in the gut.
Additionally, prebiotics help to balance the pH in your gut, allowing helpful bacteria to thrive and inhibiting harmful ones. Prebiotics like beta-glucan also activate white blood cells, which can seek out and kill pathogens and cancer cells.
By controlling oxidative damage, prebiotics help your immune system to recover from illness or injury much faster.
Reduce inflammation: Inflammation is a major contributor to serious diseases, such as asthma, arthritis, IBS, heart disease, and cancer. A regular supply of prebiotics or dietary fiber controls pro-inflammatory markers, so that this immune response does not get out of control.
Heart health: Prebiotics supply fiber, which promotes reduction in LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and lowers risk markers for cardiovascular diseases. The presence of fiber also reduces free radicals and inflammation in your body, thereby protecting your cells and tissues from damage.
Your electrolytes are also balanced, which helps to keep blood pressure under control, protecting your blood vessels and heart rom hypertension.
Improved mood: The gut-brain axis demonstrates that communication is ongoing between your digestive and nervous systems. Digestive troubles often coincide with mental health issues because of this link.
An unhappy gut therefore means an unhappy brain. A balanced gut supports neurotransmitter function that releases hormones responsible for curbing stress.
Regular prebiotics will keep your gut in a good mood and you in better spirits.
The Bottom Line
You don’t have to get your prebiotics or dietary fiber from moss just yet. You can get all you need from a prebiotic supplement or foods, like bananas, raw asparagus, chicory root, garlic, onions, and dandelion greens.
Beta-glucan can also be obtained through eating most cereal grains, but specifically oats. You cannot be healthy without a happy gut, so feed your gut prebiotics, and it will protect you and keep you in optimal health.