The consumption of probiotics has become popular as health practitioners and consumers alike recognise the value to health of a healthy gut microflora. But taking probiotics is only one part of the story – what we eat can either help or hinder the growth of healthy probiotics in our gut – and unless we feed them the correct types of nutrients in our daily diet we may be throwing our money down the sink.
In recent years, the gut microbiome has been implicated in virtually all aspects of general health. This complex system consists of vast colonies of multiple strains of bacteria, the balance of which has marked effects on allergies, metabolic health, absorption of nutrients and even mental health (1).
It has been known for several years that algal polysaccharides have a beneficial effect on the gut. Fucoidan, a sulphated polysaccharide of several species of seaweed, in particular has been shown to inhibit inflammation in a colitis model (2) and significantly increase populations of beneficial Lactobacillibacteria in the colon (3). It has also been shown to prevent pathogenic bacteria from adhering to epithelial cells (4) and promote the growth of probiotics (5).
New research by Shang et al. has also confirmed that fucoidan can change the overall microbial structure of the gut. In a recently published study, modulations of gut microbiota by different fucoidans were studied using high throughput sequencing and bioinformatics analysis. Researchers noted that at the expense of opportunistic pathogenic bacteria such as Peptococcus, the abundance of beneficial bacteria, including Lactobacillus and Ruminococcaceae, was significantly increased in response to fucoidan treatment. The balanced composition of the gut microbiome induced by dietary fucoidan also significantly reduced the antigen load and inflammatory response in the host. This was evidenced by a decrease in serum lipopolysaccharide-binding protein levels.
Overall, it appears that fucoidan has significant potential as a modulator of gut microbiota. This potential is likely to extend from general health promotion through to the treatment of intestinal dysbiosis. Further research on the effects of fucoidans towards the gut microbiota is currently underway at the University of Tasmania.
To read more research on the health benefits of fucoidan click here.
We have a range of products that contain fucoidan including; Supergreens Powder, Wakame and Mekabu Seaweed Powder, Immune Defence Capsules, Memory Plus Capsules, Green Detox Capsules, Fucoidan Capsules and Fucoidan Ultra Capsules.