Did you know that your microbiome is essentially another organ in your body? It helps you digest food, create nutrients, combat pathogens and it also plays a vital role in the development of your immune system.
Your gut microbiome is home to a treasure trove of information about your lifestyle. Not only does it hold information about the foods we eat and drinks we drink, but it is also believed that your microbiome plays a critical role in everything from autoimmune diseases to obesity.
It’s safe to say that your gut microbiome might just play the single biggest role in determining your overall health and human performance! But in order to optimise your health and perform at your peak, you need the right balance of bacteria in your GI tract.
By now, you’re probably wondering why your gut microbiome is so important? And if you’re anything like me, you’re wondering why on earth you didn’t know about this sooner in life!
Well, fortunately, we all have start somewhere and I’m about to tell you exactly why your gut bacteria is SO important to you. I’m hoping that this will make you want to get your gut into gear!
Listen to your gut!
Think of your gut bacteria as a United Nations of diplomats, each trying to make their mark on what happens in your internal world. To make sure your body does what is meant to, you want more a diverse range of diplomats, each with a range of expertise, working on essential functions.
Basically, your gut bacteria help your body do a bunch of pretty important things and the more diverse the good bacteria, the better your body will function. Some of these important functions include:
Some of your bugs in your gut help extract nutrients from food, says Bob Hutkins, PhD, a microbiome researcher and professor of food science at the University of Nebraska.
If you eat right the right foods, these bugs will help your body make vitamins and turn food into other essential nutrients like short-chain fatty acids.
But when you eat unhealthy fats and starches, your “bad” bacteria are more likely to have a field day down there. They will predominate and secrete a substance called endotoxin which prompts your immune system to go on the defensive, resulting in inflammation.
Managing your appetite
Gone are the days of diet pills and appetite suppressants! The key to controlling your appetite is to have a healthy gut by eating the right foods.
Scientists have seen that lean people’s guts are brimming with a diversity of species, while the gut communities of those who are obese show less variety. Certain bugs may have extra sway over how hungry you get.
Influencing your immune system
Did you know that 70% of the cells that control your immunity live in your gut? These include antibodies, lymphocytes, cytokines and other immune cells that watch out for invaders and attack when necessary.
Research suggests that your gut bugs “talk” to your immune system and teach it to recognize which organisms can stay and which need to go! While this concept is yet to be fully fleshed out, it is believed that the more diverse the gut bacteria, the smarter and more finely tuned the immune system is.
Gail Cresci, PhD, RD, a microbiome researcher at the Cleveland Clinic, says that “This might explain why one person can eat a piece of microbe-laden fish and get a bad bout of food poisoning while another has that same meal and feels fine”.
Managing your mood
Lastly, your gut creates chemicals that influence your emotional well-being and your microbiomes have a lot to do with it.
In fact, our gut bacteria produce the majority of the body’s serotonin, a chemical that improves mood and helps us handle stress.
The key to a better mood? MORE DIVERSE GUT BACTERIA!
People without depression tend to have more types of bugs than people with it. Although researchers are still trying to pin down strains that might boost mood.
So there you have it. Your microbiome says a heck of a lot about you! A healthy gut is key to a healthier, fuller life. I hope that this article has given yo a bit of insight into your internal world, but more importantly, I hope it has made you want to join me on a journey to a healthier life. Change your gut, change your world!