Your body is full of bacteria, fungi and viruses, numbering into the trillions. Collectively know as the gut microbiome, it's this balance of "flora" in the gut that is responsible for things such as heart health, digestive health, mental health and your immune system.
A recent study of 1,500 people published by the National Institute of Health in the US has found that the gut microbiome promoted good levels of the "good" HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. It also found that certain unhealthy bacteria that may develop in the gut when the microbiome has been compromised may lead to the production of a substance called TMAO which contributes to blocked arteries.
When your gut microbiome is out of balance (dysbiosis), high levels of the wrong bacteria can lead to digestive complaints such as bloating, cramps and abdominal pain. There are also certain bacteria in your gut which are responsible for breaking down certain types of fibre and sugars. Studies have found that coinciding with the onset of type 1 diabetes, a number of bad bacteria increased in population significantly. This is showing researchers that there is a link between blood sugar control and gut flora.
A good gut microbiome may be beneficial to your brain, and in turn mental health. Certain species of bacteria in your gut are responsible for making chemicals known as neurotransmitters. One of these neurotransmitters is Serotonin, which is nearly exclusively made in the gut. Shortages of Serotonin have been linked to depression, and studies have shown that people with psychological disorders have a different microbiome compared to those without.
Your gut is lined with a mucous membrane. This membrane is responsible for your first line of defense against disease. An imbalance in your microbiome can mean that certain bacteria beneficial to this membrane are not present in quantities required to maintain the good health of the membrane. When the mucous membrane degrades, bad bacteria and viruses can enter your system and cause disease.
In addition to your gut's mucous lining, your immune system works with the gut's microbiome. Bacteria in your gut react to certain viruses and other bacteria which produces a chemical stimulating an immune response. Without the good bacteria in your gut, these chemical signals are not sent and therefore an immune response is not triggered. This can lead to a disease or infection taking hold.
Help Your Gut Microbiome
With the knowledge of how important your gut microbiome is to your overall health, what can you do to nourish and maintain a good gut flora. There are a few options out there for you to use.
Fermented foods are great for your gut health. They're teaming with the good bacteria you need. Try adding sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented vegetables.
Kombucha is a fermented drink. It's produced through a process using something called a SCOBY - Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. This means that the drink is teaming with good bacteria essential for good gut health.
Your third option is to take a probiotic supplement. We have a range of probiotics available, depending on your need. When taking a course of antibiotics, it is a good idea to also take a probiotic to help maintain your gut health. Doctors are recommending this now - thanks for catching up with us guys ;)
If you need advice on your gut health, call in and see one of our friendly staff. We're more than happy to help.