Good gut health is essential for optimal wellness in every aspect. But what exactly constitutes good gut health? What do you gain from it? And how can you achieve it? This blog goes into detail about what the gut is and its importance in our daily lives. Keep reading to learn more!
Did you know that your gut holds a large and diverse ecosystem inside of it? There are trillions of microorganisms that live in your gut – both helpful and harmful. These microorganisms, also known as microbes, range from bacteria, to viruses, to fungi. An abundance of these microorganisms can help your gut function normally and play an important role in your body. This ecosystem of microbes, known as a microbiome, is unique to each person based on their DNA and environmental factors. It’s crazy to think we have all of this living inside of our body!
Your microbiome affects many aspects of your health. From your gastrointestinal tract, to your heart, to your immune system, to your brain – your microbiome influences all parts of your health.
As one can imagine, the microbiome inside of your gut is closely related to your GI system. The majority of the microbes live in one part of your large intestine, the cecum. Your gut microbiome becomes more diverse as you grow older and are exposed to new environments and foods. Some bacteria that can develop in your microbiome help your overall nutrition and digestion.
Many people know about cholesterol and the effects it can have on your heart. Your microbiome can help promote good types of cholesterol (HDL) and specific bacteria found in your gut can reduce cholesterol. Alternatively, some species in the gut can contribute to heart disease by producing a chemical that contributes to blocking arteries.
Another way that your microbiome affects your body is through your immune system. Your microbiome and immune system interact to regulate infections and prevent them from spreading throughout your body.
Your gut is sometimes called your “second brain”. The brain has millions of nerve endings in the gut that allow the two organs to communicate with each other. The gut microbiome can influence the signals being sent to the brain, which can affect your mood, hormones, and bodily functions.
As you can see, your gut microbiome has widespread effects on systems throughout your body. The vast interplay between these microbes and your health is why it’s important to be aware of what’s happening inside of your body!
There are a variety of ways to improve your gut microbiome. One of the most important things about your microbiome is its diversity. You can increase its diversity by eating a wide variety of foods which will then lead to a diverse microbiome. Additionally, eating fermented foods, such as yogurt, can help improve your microbiome. Eating less artificial foods and sweeteners is also beneficial because these foods have been linked to unhealthy bacteria.
Many people have heard that taking probiotics can improve gut health. However, it has been found that for an average healthy person this has little effect on your gut. And for people with chronic illnesses, probiotics can sometimes be harmful. Probiotics are helpful in certain situations, such as when you are taking antibiotics, but it is important to speak with your doctor before you begin taking them.
Like any ecosystem, your microbiome can be easily influenced by numerous factors. Sometimes, the balance is lost and unhealthy bacteria can outnumber healthy bacteria. The outcomes of this imbalance have a wide range: from easily fixable problems to the development of chronic conditions. Abnormal stool, abnormal weight loss, abdominal pain, and rectal bleeding are all signs that things in your gut are not going well. If you are experiencing these symptoms, speak with your doctor to determine the next steps.
The living ecosystem inside of your gut contributes to many important functions in your body. You can book a General Consultation to speak with Dr. Sellers or Dr. Jones if you are having any gastrointestinal problems, or want to learn more on how to improve your gut health!
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