When you think of someone with high blood pressure, diabetes, mental illnesses, or an autoimmune disease – do you automatically think, “I wonder what’s going on in their gut?” Most people don’t, but your gut is considered to be your “second brain” and has many influencers that can affect your health.
There are trillions of microbes rummaging around in your gut – this actually a good thing if you keep them healthy! This diverse community of microbes in your gut consists of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites – this is collectively known as your gut microbiota.
Your gut microbiota contains around 3.3 million genes within them – this is known as your gut microbiome. Around 99% of these genes come from your gut bacteria – that’s 150 times larger than your human genome. You would never think these microorganisms weigh in at whole pound, but for the average person they do.
Your gut bacteria produce vitamins, nutrients, and even neurotransmitters, which can easily affect your body’s health.
An unhealthy gut can lead to:
- Digestive issues
- Autoimmune diseases
- Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes
- Hormone imbalances
- Mental illnesses
You are the influencer of your gut health through your diet, the medications you take, and even certain lifestyle factors.
The Battle Between Your Good and Bad Gut Bacteria
The bacteria in your gut is in constant communication with your entire body. Most people think their gut’s main function is to help digest food. While this is one function, some other gut microbiota key responsibilities include:
- Educating your immune system
- Digesting and absorbing nutrients for energy
- Producing essential vitamins
- Protecting against pathogen overgrowth
- Regulate intestinal mucosal barriers
Since 70% of your immune system resides in your gastrointestinal tract this is one of the biggest reasons why your body relies on a healthy gut. The healthy bacteria in your gut educates your immune system when it’s time to attack bad bacteria, viruses, pathogens and foreign bodies trying to invade it.
Your healthy gut flora are the protectors in your body from the outside environment. Whatever you put through your digestive system is what these bacteria live off of. When you overload them with unhealthy foods or medications it’s hard for them to protect you, which can lead to many different health concerns.
The Importance of Gut Health on Certain Diseases
Evidence continues to grow on how the imbalance of good bacteria to bad bacteria in your gut, also known as dysbiosis, can directly affect your health. Our “SAD” (Standard American Diet) diet is simply that – sad. It’s pumped with high fat processed foods, easy to eat on the run.
This type of diet is weighing heavily on your good bacteria. When they are constantly trying to fight off toxins and other bad bacteria, it makes it hard for them to complete their other necessary responsibilities.
There’s no surprise that gastrointestinal issues can occur with gut dysbiosis. Altered gut microbiota can lead to inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, and even colon cancer.
Increased gut permeability or “leaky gut” caused by an imbalance of your gut bacteria has been a major precursor to certain autoimmune diseases. Inflammation in your gut leads to a dysregulation of your immune system which are the two common denominators in all autoimmune patients.
Your gut bacteria can affect your body’s metabolism through digestion and absorption of certain nutrients. An imbalance in this bacteria has been shown in multiple studies that can potentially lead to cardiovascular diseases such as obesity, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and heart failure.
Your gut also speaks to your brain via your vagus nerve. This is known as your gut-brain axis, which is another important reason to keep up healthy bacteria in your gut. They can indirectly influence moods like depression or anxiety, sleep, memory, and cognition. Through this vagus nerve, the gut is able to communicate with your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis to also regulate your hormones.
There are more connections continuing to pile up between your gut and your health. Bacteria can be a good thing, especially when it’s healthy bacteria protecting you from any unwanted invaders.
How to Restore Your Healthy Gut Flora
Gut health has become a hot topic in the medical world. More and more research is being done on the diverse community in your gut and how it affects your mind and body.
So, how do you restore gut health?
In just 24 hours, one study shows that simply changing the foods you eat can influence your gut bacteria. Food is a major factor in promoting the growth of good and bad bacteria in our gut. Since bad bacteria feed off of processed sugary foods – give them just the opposite. Whole, unprocessed foods specifically ones containing fiber have been shown to balance out your gut bacteria.
Avoid antibiotics at all cost – only take them if absolutely necessary. Some doctors hand out antibiotic prescriptions like candy, even for something as simple as the common cold. These antibiotics wipe out all good and bad bacteria in your gut leaving it open to harmful bacteria to invade.
Other medications affecting your gut health:
- Oral contraceptives
- NSAIDs (Advil and Aspirin)
- Antidiabetic drugs
If you can’t avoid these medications make sure you are taking a probiotic such as Probiophage DF to help give your gut healthy allies and get your gut microbiota can be restored as quickly as possible. Probiotic-rich foods such as kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi are great natural foods containing live healthy bacteria.
Exercise and managing stress are important lifestyle factors, which can lead to a healthier gut and a healthier you.
“You are what you eat” it’s not just a saying – it’s a science.
Almost every system in your body is affected by the little microbe community living in your gut. The connections between your health and your gut are undeniable. At a time where we are seeing a major rise in a number of diseases, it’s time to listen to your gut.
At the Dynamic Health Life Center, we offer nutritional testing and provide you access to a registered dietitian to help you restore gut health. If you’re in the Dallas/Fort Worth area book an appointment today with Dr. Lyn Berutti or call (817) 912-1600