Importance of Healthy Gut for your Well-Being!
Our gut is responsible for putting our body into working order as it breaks down the food we eat and delivers the nutrient that supports our body’s function. Since about 70% of the immune system is present in the gut, the importance of healthy gut cannot be overstated to address many of our health issues. Read on to know about the importance of healthy gut!
Approximately 100 trillion microbes reside in your gut. These gut microbes affect the way you store fat, maintain glucose levels in the blood and even how you respond to hormones. The importance of healthy gut to your overall health and its incredible complexity is an interesting field of research in the medical community. Numerous studies demonstrate links between gut health and the immune system, mood, mental health as well as skin conditions.
Scientists have found that the microbiome produces neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine that regulates your mood. These hormones influence your behavior and physiology. This is why if your gut is in tip-top shape, you tend to feel a lot better and healthier!
Let’s understand the importance of healthy gut!
The gut contains around 100 million neurons which is more than the amount present in the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system. It is capable of carrying out functions independently of the brain, which is why the gut is often referred to as the “second brain”. The gut has its own reflexes and senses and is capable of mediating the body’s immune response.
According to a study published by Dr. E. M. Quigley in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, having healthy bacteria in the gut is important. It can enhance the overall health of the body by boosting your immune system. It also improves symptoms of depression, helps in combating obesity and provides several other benefits.
Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
The wellness of your health depends on your gut health. Here we list out some symptoms associated with an unhealthy gut.
A healthy gut will have no difficulty in processing food and eliminating waste. However, stomach disturbances like gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn can all be signs of an unhealthy gut.
A diet high in processed foods and sugars can decrease the number of good bacteria in the gut. For instance, high amounts of refined sugars, particularly high-fructose corn syrup can increase gut inflammation. This imbalance can increase sugar cravings, which can further affect gut health.
There is a strong relationship between gut health and weight loss. An unhealthy gut can lead to gaining or losing weight without any change in your regular diet or exercise habits. This is because an imbalanced gut can impair your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, regulate blood sugar and store fat. Weight loss may occur due to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. On the other hand, weight gain may occur due to decreased nutrient absorption caused by increased insulin resistance.
An unhealthy gut may cause sleep disturbances such as insomnia or poor sleep and therefore lead to chronic fatigue. The body produces serotonin, a hormone affecting mood and sleep. The microbes in the gut are responsible for the production of most of the body’s serotonin. Therefore, an imbalance in the gut can impair the body’s ability to sleep.
An unhealthy gut can cause skin conditions like eczema or skin irritation. Gut inflammation caused by a poor diet or food allergies can increase “leaking” of certain proteins out into the body, thereby causing skin irritations and eczema.
Around 70% of the immune cells are present in the gut. An unhealthy gut may increase systemic inflammation and alter the proper functioning of the immune system. This can cause autoimmune diseases, a condition wherein the body attacks itself rather than harmful invaders.
Here we highlight the importance of healthy gut!
There are thousands of different types of bacteria in your intestines, most of which are beneficial to your health. However, an imbalance of the healthy and unhealthy microbes in the gut can lead to a condition called gut dysbiosis.
Several studies have suggested that gut dysbiosis can play a role in weight gain. It can also increase the risk of diabetes and obesity. Not only weight gain, but gut dysbiosis can lead to various other unwanted diseases such as high levels of plasma endotoxin and inflammation that eventually causes metabolic disorders.
A healthy gut microbiome controls the gut health by communicating with the intestinal cells, digesting foods and preventing disease-causing bacteria from sticking to the intestinal walls. The gut microbiome plays an important role in the development of intestinal diseases like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Bloating, cramps and abdominal pain that people with IBS experience can be due to gut dysbiosis. In this condition, unhealthy bacteria produce a lot of gas and other chemicals, causing intestinal discomfort.
Bacteria like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli are helpful bacteria, which can help seal gaps between intestinal cells. They prevent a condition called leaky gut syndrome and also reduce symptoms of IBS. These healthy bacteria are present in probiotics and yogurt and can also prevent other disease-causing bacteria from sticking to the intestinal wall.
A 2015 study including 1,500 people found that the gut microbiome plays an important role in promoting “good” HDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Additionally, healthy bacteria like Lactobacilli may help reduce cholesterol.
Unhealthy species of bacteria in the gut microbiome may contribute to heart disease. This is because they produce a chemical compound called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) which blocks arteries and may lead to heart attacks or stroke. Certain bacteria convert compounds like choline and L-carnitine present in red meat and other animal-based food sources to TMAO, increasing the risk of heart diseases.
Blood Sugar Management
The gut microbiome may help in controlling blood sugar, reducing your risk of diabetes. One study examined 33 infants who had a genetically higher risk of developing diabetes and found that the diversity of the microbiome dropped suddenly before the onset of type 1 diabetes.
Another study published in 2015 by the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel showed how the gut microbiota may have an impact on blood sugar control. Researchers found that a person’s gut microbiota influenced how their blood sugar would increase in response to eating a particular food.
The Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT) is a tissue that thinly lines the mucosal layer of the gut wall. It acts as a filter and detection system for everything that enters the gut, before entering the bloodstream. This lymphoid tissue is richly populated with a special cluster of immune cells known as Peyer’s patches.
The role of the cells in these patches is to identify the harmful bacteria within the gut and eliminate these pathogens before they enter the bloodstream. These Peyer’s Patches also stimulate a chain of immune reactions that stop the movement of pathogens throughout the gut lining.
A healthy gut also influences brain health and improves the overall functioning of the body. The gut microbiome can help produce chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters such as serotonin, an anti-depressant that is mostly synthesized in the gut.
Additionally, the gut is connected to the brain through millions of nerves. Therefore, the gut microbiome may also affect brain health as these nerves are responsible for controlling the messages that are sent to the brain.
Various studies have shown that people with various psychological disorders have different species of bacteria in their gut compared to healthy people. This indicates that the gut microbiome has a prominent role in maintaining brain health.
Until now, you may have thought that the chief function of the gut is to digest food but it does so much more! A well-functioning gut reduces the risk of diabetes, obesity, heart diseases, skin conditions, and other disorders. Thus, you should not underestimate the importance of healthy gut!