For this blog I wanted to talk about gut microbes, essential functions of gut microbiota and why they are important. I also wanted to briefly discuss how the gut microbiota gets out of balance and what you can do to help keep your gut healthy?
Why Is Gut Microbiota Important for Health?
Most of the nutrients and energy that your body needs are obtained from the food that you eat. Therefore, your digestive system, and especially your gut health, is incredibly important. Your gut plays a crucial role in maintaining your entire body’s health, from digesting your food to distributing the nutrients to making you feel happy.
There are trillions of microbes that happily live in our gut. These friendly microbes do more than help us digest foods, make vitamins, and protect us from the not-so-friendly microbes - they have mood-boosting and stress-busting functions too!
It’s a hotbed of research right now and we’re finding out more about their awesome health and mood/stress benefits every day. And, while the research is just starting to figure out the many gut microbe-brain connections, it’s such a cool new topic that we couldn’t wait to share it with you!
Here are the essential functions of gut microbiota:
• Gut microbiota helps you break down food and absorb nutrients.
Have you ever wondered how your stomach digests food? Well, that’s thanks to the bacteria present in your intestines. Gut microbiota affects your metabolism, helping you break down complex molecular compositions from the meat and vegetables that you eat.
• It affects your immune functions.
You first get microbes from your mother’s cervix during birth, which is the initial point that your body learns to respond to microbes and potentially disease-causing organisms. It is called adaptive immunity. When microbe ingestion is disrupted early on, it can be linked to allergies and autoimmune conditions.
• Gut microbiota impacts your psychological functions.
Would you believe that your gut health can affect your mood and behavior? Gut microbiota is actually called the “second brain.” As your gut microbiota breaks down molecules from the food you eat, it triggers nerve functions, the release of hormones, and cognitive function. An imbalance can lead to bad moods, anxiety, poor quality of sleep, and depression, among others.
• It can help you fight disease.
One of the most important functions of your gut microbiota is helping you prevent and fight diseases. With a balanced composition of bacteria, you are protected against infections and illnesses. However, when the harmony is disturbed, it can lead to various gut conditions, such as inflammatory bowel diseases, ulcerative colitis, indigestion, and metabolic syndrome.
What Makes Gut Microbiota Get Out Of Balance?
Gut microbiota can be disturbed by different factors, such as poor diet, stress, antibiotics, lack of sleep, drinking too much alcohol, and some drugs. Processed and unhealthy foods can affect your gut health, which is why it is important to be aware of the consequences of what you eat and drink.
Repeated use of antibiotics can kill some of the good bacteria in your gut, causing an imbalance that impacts other body functions, such as metabolism.
Studies have confirmed the link between gut health and diseases and conditions. Some of these are diabetes, obesity, malnutrition, eczema, cancer, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis, among others.
What Can You Do To Keep Your Gut Healthy?
Given the important role that gut microbiota plays in your overall well-being, it is crucial to keep it healthy. There are many ways you can do so, and the first and foremost is being mindful of what you eat. If you are regularly indulging in sweets and processed foods, a far healthier option is to swap them for whole and fiber-rich foods. Adding prebiotic-rich foods and probiotics in your diet will also be helpful to your gut health.
Aside from the food that you put into your stomach, it is also essential to engage in regular exercise, get enough sleep, and reduce your stress, or learn to manage it better. Given the uniqueness of each person’s gut microbiota, your nutritional needs may vary, and your optimal diet may have to be tailored to your gut microbiota. For instance, you may be allergic or intolerant to some foods, such as dairy, grains, or gluten.
There is more to your digestive system than breaking down the foods that you eat to give your body the energy it needs to function. It is important to keep your gut healthy to maintain and improve your overall well-being.