Good gut

Why gut health is so much more than a healthy stomach 

Did you know that there is an estimated 100 trillion bacteria living in your gut? Now don’t be alarmed, this bacterium is known as good bacteria for it helps us as humans stay healthily. But do you know why that is?

Bacteria helps us digest food

Foremostly, bacteria helps us digest our food. Without these crucial bacteria we wouldn’t be able to process the food we eat, with the bacteria enzymes helping to break down molecules found in our food. In particular, they help with the processing of carbohydrates and fibre. With bacteria we wouldn’t be able to get the full nutritional value.

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Listen to your gut

We should be listening to our gut as it is a fantastic indicator of how our body is coping. Many of us know the feeling of a dodgy stomach when we are stressed, but it can control so much more than we realise.

The Vagus Nerve is a direct connection between the gut and the brain as part of the autonomic nervous system in which messages are transmitted between the two organs. Therefore, it has been suggested that if your gut is unwell this can directly impact your brain as messages of distress are directly applied to the brain.

Can an unhealthy diet lead to an unhealthy brain?

Food impacts our mood. It can increase serotonin and give us immediate pleasure. However, too much of these foods can be bad for us. A lot of the foods that boost our moods instantly are high in sugar and fat, too much of these can make us feel worse off. The reason for this could be due to the lack of butyrate found in these foods. Butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid is found in abundance in good bacteria but is derived from whole foods such as vegetables, fruit and whole grains. Without enough butyrate, our gut lining can become inflamed and contribute to a bad mood.

Read more on how diet can impact brain health here.

Can we survive without gut bacteria?

The simple answer is no. Live Science comments that:

"We get more nutrition out of our food because of bacteria," [Anne] Maczulak said. Bacteria in the digestive system also supply us with needed vitamins like biotin and vitamin K and are our primary source for some of these nutrients, according to [Anne] Maczulak. Experiments done on guinea pigs have shown that animals raised in a sterile environment without any bacteria are malnourished and die young.”

Bacteria ultimately is a critical part of being a healthy human. Without the good bacteria in our gut, it also gives opportunity for bad bacteria to take hold, which can result in a host of potential problems. That is often why when prescribed antibiotics, we are told to consume yogurt to ensure we replenish our bacteria stores that become destroyed over the course of taking the medication.

How you do feel about bacteria now? We would love to know!

Images courtesy of Unsplash