What is the Gut Microbiome?
The gut microbiome or gut flora refers to all the microorganisms that inhabit the digestive tract in humans and animals. These microorganisms may include bacteria, viruses, protozoa, archaea, and eukaryotes among other microscopic organisms. These organisms form asymbio tic relationship with the body and are present in various sitesthroughout the digestive tract. Studies suggest that there is an equal number of human cells and microbial cells in the human body.
What Does the Gut Microbiome Do?
Studies and research related to the gut microbiome have significantly increased in number as the effect and potential health benefits of the gut microbiome have come to light in recent years. Due to technological limitations, there haven’t been sufficient studies on what do bacteria do in a healthy gut microbiome. However, it has been established that these microorganisms contribute to the overall health of the body in various ways.
One of the most significant effects of the gut flora is that it helps maintain a healthy rate of metabolism by contributing to the proper functioning of the neuroendocrine system.
Studies have also been able to establish a relationship between gut health and diabetes or gut microbiome and immunity. Gut microbiome studies have also facilitated host energy harvesting and metabolic efficiency. A healthy gut microbiome helps the digestive system to ferment unabsorbed starch and soluble dietary fiber.
It is also known to strengthen the gut barrier which is built of mucus. This acts as a filter between the outside world and the inside of any organism, hence physically contributing to the immune system.
It is also known to affect mood, mental health, energy levels, and sleep cycles apart from the direct implications it has on your digestive and neuroendocrine system.
An experiment performed on mice also suggested that the subjects with unhealthy gut flora had to consume 30% more food to maintain their weight as compared to the mice with healthy gut flora.
Hence, despite the lack of technological advancements to observe the impact of these microorganisms directly, there is enough evidence to suggest that a healthy gut microbiome leads to better health overall.
What are the Signs of an Unhealthy Gut Microbiome?
Having an unhealthy gut microbiome affects your health in various ways. Scientists and researchers have drawn a direct correlation between gut health and diabetes, obesity, and other chronic conditions. Having bad gut health results in many diseases in the body both local and systemic in nature. They are as follows-
1. Upset stomach: bloating constipation and diarrhea are the most notable symptoms of bad gut health. This is caused by the inability of the body to digest that process food.
2. Sugar cravings: if the gut balance is disrupted, it causes excessive sugar cravings.
3. Unintentional weight changes: since bad gut health disrupts the digestive system hindering the absorption of nutrients, it causes unintended changes in weight.
4. Sleep fluctuations: since serotonin is produced in the gut, an unhealthy gut disrupts sleep patterns and has been linked to fibromyalgia.
5. Autoimmune diseases: imbalance in the gut causes systemic inflammation which prompts the immune system to attack healthy parts of the body instead of malicious invaders causing autoimmune diseases.
How to Improve Gut Microbiome?
A gut-healthy diet is one of the best ways to regulate the number of microorganisms in your body. One of the best preventive measures to make sure you have good gut health is to include diverse food items in your diet. Different food items contain different helpful bacteria and expanding your palette just means you are introducing more types of microorganisms in your system, making your gut healthier.
If you are suffering from any or all of the symptoms of poor gut health, you must be wondering how to heal your gut naturally. The best way to do that is to make changes in your diet and consume more foods that heal the gut.
The most important part of a diet that helps you heal your gut is consuming sufficient fiber. While your body cannot break down fiber, it is consumed by most of the bacteria in your gut and helps them thrive. Consuming legumes, beans and leafy vegetables that contain fiber is a great way to improve your gut health.
The second aspect of a healthy gut diet plan is to include a lot of natural probiotics in your meals. The foods that contain this includes raspberries, artichokes, green peas, broccoli, and whole grains.
Food items that are fermented also tend to contain a high amount of microbiomes that improve gut health. These foods include yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, and tempeh.
Processed food, high amounts of sugar, and fatty foods tend to disrupt the natural balance of the body and hence tend to lead to bad gut health. This is why a whole-food plant-based diet is a great way to help your gut heal completely.
Eating a whole food plant-based diet, eating diverse food items, and making sure you stay away from junk, processed food, and food with high amounts of sugar is the best way to maintain your gut health and improve your overall health in turn.
Get to know more about gut with “A Microbiome Masterclass with Robyn Chuter" on Spotify and Apple Podcast.