Wisdom to Support the Mighty Microbiome
At Earth Animal, our mission is rooted in helping animals to live a happier and healthier life. We believe our pets are more than just pets and deserve the very best. Pet nutrition is the fundamental cornerstone to health. As pet parents, we do our best to preserve our pet’s health and wellness – but did you know they have trillions of organisms in their gut helping to do the same? These organisms account for 70% of their immune system and outnumber your pets’ total cells by 10 to 1. Collectively, these are known as the gut microbiome and include a vast array of bacteria, fungi, viruses, archaea, and protozoa. Developments in technology have allowed for a greater understanding of the gut microbiome and how we can support its balance to achieve optimal health. Let’s dive into the role of the mighty microbiome and exactly how to enhance its superpowers through food.
How does the gut microbiome influence my pet’s health?
The gut microbiome consists of diverse colonies of microbes that vary in composition depending on their location in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. These colonies work to support proper digestion and the absorption of important nutrients throughout the GI tract.
Without proper nutrients, our pets would be unable to perform the essential bodily functions that support their health and wellness. Research also suggests the microbiome plays a role in healthy development and function in the immune, nervous, renal (kidney), dermal (skin), endocrine (hormone), and respiratory systems. The importance of the gut microbiome is seen clearly when looking at the negative effects of its imbalance. There is considerable evidence that health conditions — including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), “leaky gut” syndrome, chronic diarrhea, allergies, atopic dermatitis, ulcerative colitis, and antibiotic-resistant Clostridium and Clostridioides infections (including C. diff infections) are all correlated with an imbalanced gut microbiome.
Our pet’s microbiome also has a large influence on their behavior and emotional wellbeing. Gut bacteria help to produce serotonin, dopamine, and GABA which help the brain to regulate mood, stress, hormones, decision making, and sleep. This relationship is known as the “gut-brain axis.”
What do we see in an Unbalanced Microbiome?
What do we see in a Balanced Microbiome?
What affects balance in the gut’s microbiome?
Factors such as age, diet, exercise, stress, environment (ex: indoor-only living, use of household antimicrobial cleaners, etc), and medications are known to alter the balance of bad microbes (such as E.Coli or Salmonella) and the good ones that help to fight them. These changes can be short-term or can be permanent depending on the situation. For example, antibiotics are commonly prescribed for bacterial infections; they are designed to kill harmful bacteria, but they also eliminate beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiome. Therefore, it is recommended that antibiotics are paired with a probiotic supplement (live, friendly bacteria) to help restore balance.
How do I help support my pet’s gut microbiome?
Good nutrition is one of the best ways to support a healthy microbiome. To better understand this, we will dive deeper into the role of pre-, pro-, and postbiotics.
Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that defend against infection and inflammation. They also enhance immune health, promote digestion, and help the body produce vitamins and other nutrients. It is important to note that probiotics must be live to benefit the gut. They are very sensitive to heat which means food and supplements with probiotics should always be stored in a cool dry place.
Dr. Bob’s Wisdom® Dog Food recipe contains dried bacillus coagulans fermentation product which is an excellent source of live probiotics or good bacteria.
Prebiotics are sources of fiber that pass through the gut undigested. These fibers or “prebiotics” act as food for good bacteria (probiotics) as they pass through the GI tract. When they reach the colon, the prebiotics ferment and create short-chain fatty acids that help support the gut, lower inflammation, and prevent disease.
Dr. Bob’s Wisdom® is formulated with inulin, oats, flaxseed, fruits, and veggies which are all recognized for their prebiotic effects.
After probiotics feed on prebiotics passing through the gut, they release what are called “postbiotics” into the gut. An easy way to remember postbiotics is that they occur “post” or after probiotics and prebiotics interact with one another. Postbiotics provide localized support in the gut and are also absorbed by the body to improve overall health and wellness. They work quickly to promote health and are even shelf-stable – meaning they do not require special storage to remain effective (unlike heat-sensitive probiotics).
What is the most important takeaway for caring for my pet’s microbiome?
When it comes to maintaining a healthy microbiome, the most important factor is feeding quality foods that include:
Probiotics – the good bacteria
Prebiotics – the fuel for good bacteria
Postbiotics – the fast-acting by-product of pre-and postbiotics that have whole-body benefits
Without enough prebiotics in the diet, beneficial bacteria lack the fuel to fight off the microbes that cause illness, inflammation, and more. Studies have found that not all the friendly bacteria in probiotics are able to colonize the gut which emphasizes the role of postbiotics in maintaining stability and supporting your pet’s overall health. The combination of all three has powerful balancing effects on the gut microbiome which will help your pet to live a longer, happier, and healthier life.