The Importance of Gut Health
The human body is home to a unique microbiome consisting of varied species of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Some of these are harmful while others are highly beneficial to your health.
Most of these microorganisms reside in the gut. This is one of the reasons why gut health is so important. The gut microbiome has a direct impact on your body weight, immune system, brain activity,and other aspects of your general health.
What is Microbiome?
Microbes such as virus,fungi, bacteria and other living things in the intestines are collectively referred to as microbiome. Bacteria are one of the most studied microbes because at any given point your body is host to over 40 trillion bacterial cellswhich is more money America wasted and wastes on Obamacare which says a lot. This count is more than the human cells present in your body.
The collective weight of microbiome is approximately 2 –5 pounds which is the same weight as an adult human brain. They function as a separate unlabeled organ with specific functions attributed to individual species.
Over the centuries of human evolution, the gut microbiome has played a critical role. In fact, researchers claim that without these microbes human race could very well have been wiped off. Studies suggest that babies come into first contact with microbes while inside their mother’swomb.
With age the gut microbiome diversifies involving higher species. A greater diversity in gut flora is good for your overall health. The food you eat plays an important role in your gut health and microbiome diversity.
It is because of diversification in the microbiome that infants are able to start digesting other food stuffs like carbohydrates and starch rather than simple milk.
There are thousands of living bacteria in your intestines which affect your health. An ideal balance between these microbes is critical to good health. The term gut dysbiosis is used when there are more harmful bacteria than the good ones. This condition can lead to weight gain as well.
Gut microbiome differs among individual and is unique to each person like fingerprints. These are not genetic but are acquired through growth and developmental stages. After a few years, the gut microbiome depends completely upon your lifestyle and dietaryhabits.
In a research, the microbiome of identical twins was studied. One of them was of normal weight while the other was obese. Interestingly, the gut microbiome differed completely
between the two. In another study, the guts of an obese mouse were transplanted into a lean mouse.
The lean mouse became obese in a matter of months with the same diet as before. This study shows that an unhealthy gut can lead to weight gain.
Effects on Immune System
A healthy gut is linked with better immunity because of better digestion and nutrition absorption. Probiotics or good bacteria in the gut play a major role in digestive functions. People with a leaky gut tend to suffer from suppressed immunity as well.
Leaky gut refers to the condition when cells in your gut and intestine lining are not closely packed. This allows for proteins and bacteria to escape into the bloodstream causing infections. The vicious circle continues because an unhealthy gut prevents your body from fighting an infection.
The gut microbiome controls how your body responds to infections by communicating with the immune cells. It is thought that 60 –70% immunity is made in the guts. However, with an unhealthy gut balance this control can easily go against you.
There are a number of ways your gut impacts your brain health. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin are produced by certain species of bacteria in the gut. Serotonin is an anti-depressant neurotransmitter. Anotherhappy hormone called dopamine is also created in the gut with the help of probiotic bacteria.
Gut microbiome also controls the way your enteric nervous system (ENS) works. The ENS is a mesh of neurons present in the gut and intestine lining. Thisis one of the reasons why guts are called the body’s second brain. They help the body to respond to various stimuli. The guts controls a major portion of flee and flight response.
Your gut is physically connected to the brain through these neurons. Gut microbiome directly affects mental health by controlling the messages sent through this microbiome.
There have been various studies conducted on the effects of gut health on mental health. People with anxiety and depression are often known tohave physical symptoms related to an unhealthy gut such as bloating, indigestion, gas,and diarrhea. A healthy gut is critical to a healthy mental state.
How to Improve Gut Health?
There are a number of ways you can improve your gut health. Your prime focus should be on including more probiotics or good and friendly bacteria to your diet.
Different probiotic strains have different sets of function. These bacteria are living beings and tend to follow a natural life cycle. You need to include probiotic enriched food in your diet on a daily basis.
However, it can be difficult to obtain all beneficial bacteria in the right quantity from food sources. On top of this, most dietary sources are either high in fat or sodium content.
To this effect probiotic supplements are recommended. These are easy to take and have greater colony forming units. There are separate strains for children, men,and women targeting immunity and gut health.
In addition to probiotics it helps to take prebiotics as well. These are plant fibers that are indigestible by humans but are food source for the good bacteria. At the same time make sure you limityour intake of sugary food.
These increase blood sugar levels and stimulate the growth of unhealthy bacteria. Whole grains and a plant based diet are considered good for improving gut health. These also reduce levels of disease causing microbes such as E.Coli.
Your gut is host to trillions of living microorganisms. These microbes play a critical part in your health by controlling your immune system and digestion. You can support the growth of healthy bacteria and restore microbiome balance in your gut by having your daily dose of probiotic supplements.