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Cacao is Great For Your Gut Microbiome!

Consumed worldwide for their pleasant taste, cocoa and its products have been shown in numerous studies to have functional effects such as reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and metabolic disorders, positively affecting the immune and nervous systems, preventing cancer, and exhibiting anti-inflammatory activities.

One key way cocoa promotes health is through its prebiotic properties. Acting as nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria, cocoa helps maintain a balanced gut flora crucial for optimal digestion, nutrient absorption, and overall reproductive health. Furthermore, research suggests that cocoa-induced modifications in gut microbiota may improve glucose homeostasis and gut health, potentially mediating beneficial effects in diabetes.

Incorporating cocoa-rich foods into your diet may improve your digestive health, as the flavanols in cocoa act as prebiotics when digested. By working with probiotics, prebiotics can support digestive health and overall well-being. Join us as we explore the potential health benefits of cocoa and how it can contribute to a balanced and thriving gut microbiota.

Biodisponibility and Properties for the Gut Health

The metabolism of cocoa polyphenols begins in the oral cavity, where flavonoid glucosides are converted into absorbable compounds. In the stomach, oligomeric polyphenols are broken down into their monomeric units. After being absorbed in the small intestine, the metabolites travel to the liver where they undergo phase I and II biotransformation reactions. This process involves oxidation, reduction, and conjugation, leading to the formation of water-soluble metabolites that are released into the systemic circulation and distributed to target organs.

Researchers are currently studying how cocoa polyphenols affect gut microbiota and how these microorganisms, in turn, impact polyphenol metabolism and human health. Recent studies suggest that dietary polyphenols and their metabolites may change the composition of gut flora by acting as prebiotics and targeting harmful microbes.

Escherichia coli, Bifidobacterium sp., Lactobacillus sp., Bacteroides sp., and Eubacterium sp. are among the gut microbial species involved in cocoa polyphenol metabolism. These microorganisms convert cocoa polyphenols into bioactive compounds that can influence intestinal health and be better absorbed into the body. Polyphenol supplementation promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium while reducing the number of harmful species such as Clostridium perfringens.

In summary , with the advances in molecular biology techniques, the association between changes in the gut microbiota and human diseases or disorders is becoming more evident.. Cocoa and its products have been shown to provide various health benefits, largely because of their polyphenol content. The types and amounts of polyphenols in cocoa can differ based on factors like the specific cocoa , growing conditions, where it is grown, and how it is processed. The effectiveness and health effects of cocoa polyphenols depend on their chemical makeup, concentration, individual factors, and how they interact with other nutrients. In some cases, different components of cocoa, like polyphenols, fibers, and theobromine, can work together to either counteract or enhance each other’s effects. When cocoa polyphenols reach the colon, they are broken down by gut bacteria into smaller compounds, which can influence the balance of gut microorganisms. Studies have shown that cocoa has prebiotic effects, promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria while reducing harmful ones. The health benefits of cocoa consumption have been linked to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, although more research is needed to fully understand how cocoa polyphenols interact with gut bacteria and their overall impact on human health. Both cocoa and cacao do contain caffeine but analysis has shown that raw cacao can contain over twice as much caffeine as its roasted brethren.

My thoughts:

The role of cacao in promoting gut health through its prebiotic effects on microbiota is well-supported by scientific evidence. Its flavonoids intake can modulate the gut microbiota composition, leading to potential health benefits such as improved digestion and reduced inflammation. The caffeine in cocoa might cause irregular heartbeat in some people and should be used cautiously in people with heart conditions also somebody who is taking antidepressants (Cacao contains MAO inhibitors), has a serious heart condition, has very high blood pressure or suffers epilepsy. Please speak to your specialist for specific dietetic recommendations.

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