Numerous bacteria, viruses, and fungi make up the gut microbiome. Not all bacteria are pathogenic; some are beneficial to the immune system, heart, weight, and many other aspects of overall health. Your cecum, or large intestine, is home to the majority of the bacteria. In actuality, we have more bacterial cells than human cells in our bodies. There are only about 30 trillion human cells compared to about 40 trillion bacteria.
The average weight of a microbe is between 2 and 5 pounds, which is comparable to human brain. As soon as you are born, they begin to have an impact on your body. According to recent research, microbes may be present in the womb when a baby is being carried. Your gut microbes start to diversify as you get older. It's interesting to note that your gut microbiomes are influenced by the food you eat.
Here is a basic summary of the various ways that our microbiome affects our body:
1. Bifidobacteria are the first type of bacteria to colonize infants' intestines and they breakdown the growth-promoting healthy sugars in breast milk.
2. A few types of bacteria break down fibre to create short-chain fatty acids, which are vital for gut health. Fiber may lower the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and weight gain.
3. The gut microbiome also influences the functioning of your immune system. The gut microbiota can regulate how your body reacts to infection by interacting with immune cells.
4. According to recent study, the central nervous system, which regulates brain function, may also be impacted by the gut microbiome.
Here are some ways you could improve your gut health:
1. Consume fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, and sauerkraut.
2. Avoid consuming too many artificial sweeteners: According to some data, aspartame and other artificial sweeteners raise blood sugar levels through encouraging the development of harmful bacteria like Enterobacteriaceae in the gut microbiome.
3. A form of fibre called a prebiotic promotes the development of good bacteria. Foods high in prebiotics include apples, artichokes, bananas, asparagus, oats, and bananas.
4. Whole grains are high in fibre and healthy carbohydrates like beta-glucan, which the gut microbiome breakdown to lower blood sugar, cancer risk, and weight.
5. Numerous fibres found in fruits and vegetables are beneficial to gut bacteria. Increasing the diversity of your gut bacteria by consuming a variety of plant-based foods is linked to maintaining a healthy weight (whatever that may look like for you).
Let's discuss some of the chemicals that the gut microbiome produces that can make you feel satiated or hungry.
Few nutrients will escape digestion since the small intestine is very skilled at breaking down, emulsifying, and absorbing nutrients. Dietary fibre and other complex carbohydrates can pass undigested through the small intestine because they are indigestible by the body, which means they are not broken down by the body's digestive enzymes. Yet, certain residing bacteria in the colon may be able to utilize them as an energy source. These non-digestible carbohydrates will be metabolized by a variety of gut microorganisms into various SCFA molecules (eg, acetate, butyrate and propionate). Chemically well characterized, SCFAs have already been extensively studied for their effects on human health. Many metabolic pathways in the stomach and elsewhere, including the liver, the adipose tissue, the muscles, and the brain, are regulated by these substances. These microbial metabolites are now understood to contribute to a variety of physiological impacts, including the regulation of inflammation, immunology, glucose/lipid metabolism, and even energy homeostasis.
An imbalance in the gut bacteria known as gut dysbiosis occurs when the number of "bad" bacteria rises. Gut dysbiosis, or an unbalanced microbiome, is an overgrowth of the less friendly forms of bacteria that can cause discomfort and other gastrointestinal symptoms like gas and bloating. According to research, a healthy microbiome has an 85% good:15% bad bacteria ratio. If this ratio shifts in favor of pathogenic forms of bacteria, it is believed to cause gut symptoms.
A healthy gut microbiome supports a healthy life – in whatever way that looks like for you!
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de Vos, Tilg, H., Van Hul, M., & Cani, P. D. (2022). Gut microbiome and health: mechanistic insights. Gut, 71(5), 1020–1032. https://doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2021-326789
About the Author
My name is Maha, Healthy U volunteer for the current academic year. I'm in my final year of a human nutrition science program (B.Sc.). My areas of interest include sexual and mental health. When I am not in school or working, I like to exercise and spend time with friends and family. I usually attempt to discover new cafés or restaurants since I enjoy trying out different cuisines!