Your gastrointestinal tract, or gut, is a vital system that plays a significant role in biological processes within your body, and essentially encompasses your whole digestive system, from the mouth on down. The gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, collectively known as the gut microbiota, which play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy gut and immune system. The combination of these microbiota and their environment within the gut are referred to as the gut microbiome.
That’s a term you’re probably more familiar with. As well as processing food for energy and essential nutrients, the gut microbiome plays a significant role in regulating immune response. When harmful pathogens (harmful bacteria or viruses) enter the body, immune cells like T cells and B cells are activated to neutralise the threat. The gut microbiota plays a crucial role in modulating this immune response, so there’s an important relationship between the gut microbiome and the immune system. It’s generally accepted that microbiome immunity and good health are closely linked.
The gut microbiome communicates constantly with the immune system through various different mechanisms. Cells lining the gut known as epithelial cells maintain the integrity of the gut barrier, preventing certain pathogens from being absorbed. The gut microbiome supports the function of these epithelial cells, promoting a healthy and effective gut barrier. Signalling molecules called metabolites are also produced by the microbiome, and these modulate and control immune responses. These molecules can do things like activate T or B cells, or inhibit the release of proteins like cytokines, which can cause inflammation and damage otherwise healthy tissues.
How do I support a healthy gut microbiome?
A healthy gut microbiome generally has a diverse population of beneficial bacteria. Foods loaded with sugar and unhealthy fats, can disrupt the composition of the gut microbiome and lead to the overgrowth of harmful bacteria. This can result in chronic inflammation, and the development of unwanted health conditions.
So it’s pretty obvious that supporting a healthy gut microbiome is crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system. Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help promote a healthy gut microbiome. In addition, consuming probiotics, such as those found in fermented foods like yoghurt and sauerkraut, can help support a healthy gut microbiome. As good as they are in promoting gut health though, those foods aren’t for everyone, and can be a bit of an acquired taste. Oh well… no pain no gain…
Live Cultures and Good Gut Health
That’s where chocolate comes in. Chocolate is not only a delicious, popular food stuff, with some pretty incredible benefits of its own — packed with flavonoids that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties — but it’s also a terrific vehicle for delivering live cultures to the gut. It’s actually around three times more effective at doing this than dairy products such as yoghurt drinks, and… well… It’s chocolate. Need we say more?
Your daily bars of ohso-good, luxury Belgian chocolate are not only incredibly tasty, with a variety of cocoa content, and a range of delicious flavours, they’re also a brilliant way of making sure that you’re working towards a better balance in your gut microbiome, and helping your immune system to function correctly too. The small, perfectly-formed bars are tailor-made for making sure that your gut microbiome is balanced when you’re busy and on the go. You might not be able to pick up fermented foods everywhere you travel, and some people might not appreciate you opening your sauerkraut at the gym.
Get some ohso-good chocolate
So getting your regular intake of ohso ticks lots of boxes on your everyday health checklist; you get to have a daily bar of chocolate for one thing and that’s a big feel-good plus right there, but you’ll also be getting those important live cultures that you need to maintain your gut-health – an essential step in promoting a healthy immune response and great overall long-term health.