We’ve all heard of the saying “trust your gut”. Your gut really does have all the answers, especially when it comes to overall health. The gut plays a very important role in keeping your immune system, digestive tract, heart, and mental health in great shape. That’s why it’s essential to keep our gut happy and healthy!
What is the gut microbiome?
Our bodies are filled with trillions of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microscopic living things. Combined, these are known as microorganisms or microbes. A large portion of these microbes live in the cecum, which is a pocket within the large intestine. This particular collection of microbes is called the gut microbiome. There are around 300 to 500 different species of bacteria in our gut microbiome. Each species plays a different role in the body. While most are crucial for good health, others can cause disease. Weighing around the same as your brain (2-5 lbs or 1-2 kg), the gut microbiome acts as an additional organ in your body and is vital to your overall health from the moment you are
born. In fact, without the gut microbiome, it would be very hard for our bodies to survive.
How exactly does the gut aid in immunity?
The gut and immune system have a symbiotic relationship and work together to keep our bodies healthy. The immune system contributes to the diversity of the gut microbiome, and in turn, the gut impacts the strength and development of the immune system. This is because 70-80% of the body’s immune system lives in the gut. The gut and immune system communicate with each
other using signals, such as hormones, and support one another to maintain a healthy body.
Gut health and digestion
For optimal gut health, you need a balance of both “good” and “bad” bacteria. How do you attain that balance? By watching what you eat.
Having minimal food intolerances is a sign of good gut health since they are often caused by the poor quality of bacteria in the gut. This leads to difficulty digesting those specific foods, causing bloating, gas, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea. The good bacteria monitor our gut and keep bad bacteria away by aiding with digestion and nutrient absorption. Regular elimination during
digestion increases your immunity and ensures your gut isn’t holding on to the toxins.
Reach for probiotic-rich foods
Sometimes, life gets in the way and off-puts the equilibrium of the gut bacteria through poor diet, stress, lack of sleep, and overuse of antibiotics. But there are certain foods, such as those rich in probiotics, that aid your gut and maintain an adequate level of good bacteria. Probiotics are live microorganisms found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, and many more.
If you have a hard time trying to include probiotics in your diet, you can also try supplementing with a shelf-stable probiotic. This one is perfect for daily use and contains five critical probiotic species naturally found in the human intestinal tract. At the time of manufacture, it has 40 billion colony forming units (CFUs), which is a measure of good bacteria activity. And by the time it reaches the expiry date, it is still guaranteed to have 15 billion CFU.
The gut-brain connection
Have you ever experienced “butterflies” in your stomach, or felt nauseous at the thought of doing a presentation in front of people? These are caused by the gut-brain connection, which shows that stomach problems can be linked to anxiety and vice versa. Our gut is sensitive to emotions and can be triggered through our feelings and reactions.
This is because the brain is connected to many nerve cells that line the gut wall. When this connection is impacted by stress it causes gut inflammation, which can promote the growth of harmful bacteria. Stress can also change the regularity of bowel movements, suppressing good bacteria, which causes the body to reabsorb the toxins it is trying to get rid of.
The gut is clearly more than just a small “pocket” located in the large intestine. It’s involved in every single system in our bodies, from the digestive system to the nervous system. Maintaining overall body health definitely starts with a healthy gut, so make sure you listen to your gut!
Why the Gut Microbiome Is Crucial for Your Health
What’s an Unhealthy Gut? How Gut Health Affects You
Prebiotics, Probiotics & Gut Health: All You Need to Know
How your Gut Affects your Immune System: A Symbiotic Relationship
The gut-brain connection
Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis