The Human Gut Microbiome
There are more microorganisms, including bacteria, yeast, viruses, parasites, etc. living in and on our bodies than there are human cells. In fact, it is estimated that the human body is home to around 100 trillion microbial cells, most of which reside in our gut. That’s roughly 10 times the number of cells, and 100 times DNA in our body.
These tiny organisms play a vital role in our health and well-being, and we would not be able to survive without them. The majority of these organisms are beneficial and help us to digest our food, absorb nutrients, energy production, detoxification, reduce inflammation and toxic load and protect us from harmful bacteria and viruses. However, there are also some harmful organisms that can cause diseases.
The different types of microorganisms in our intestines have been attracting a lot of attention lately, with the Gut Microbiome getting the most spotlight. There are countless microbes present in the gut, most of which are located in the cecum of the large intestine.
These microbes are mainly known for their role in gut health, but they may also have other benefits.
Gut realities beyond digestion, we should be aware of:
‘All disease begins in the gut’ – Hippocrates
As we are now slowly beginning to realize the interconnectedness of gut health to many of the most chronic illnesses affecting us today, like diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases. As it turns out, a poor gut health – low microbiome diversity, a structurally compromised gut environment and a weak gut lining (leaky gut)- is a gateway to these metabolic diseases and many others.
There’s a lot more to the gut microbiome than meets the eye. In fact, there are plenty of interesting facts about the gut microbiome that cannot be ignored. For instance, did you know that the gut microbiome is responsible for breaking down food and extracting nutrients? Or that the gut microbiome also plays a role in immune function and gastrointestinal health? Or gut microbiome was called the Microflora of the Gut.
The gut microbiome is more than just bacteria
– It is a complex ecosystem of microbes and is home to a diverse array of microorganisms, including eukaryotes (fungi) and prokaryotes (bacteria). In addition to these two groups, our gut also contains methanogens. Each of these microorganisms plays a distinct role in supporting our health. The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in human health, affecting everything from digestion and immunity to mental health and mood.
Your gut microbiome is always changing-
It diversifies and evolves over time. This means that your gut health can change over time too. Your gut microbiome also diversifies and evolves over time. During your growth stage, the microbiome strengthens and becomes more diverse. However, in your old age, there is a decline in these microbiomes. This decline is thought to be due to a number of factors, including a decrease in the number of gut bacteria, a decrease in the diversity of gut bacteria, and an increase in the abundance of harmful bacteria. We can see this decline in the younger generation also. The main culprit behind it is lifestyle choices.
You might be gaining/losing weight due to gut microbiome-
The human gut is home to a complex and diverse community of microbes, which play a crucial role in maintaining our health. However, an imbalance between the healthy and unhealthy microbes in our gut can lead to a number of health problems, including obesity. Obesity is a major health concern worldwide, and recent research has suggested that the gut microbiome may play a role in its development. Studies have shown that obese individuals have a different gut microbial composition than those of normal weight, with higher levels of certain types of bacteria. A recent study conducted on identical twins provides insight into how gut bacteria may play a role in weight gain. One twin in the study was healthy while the other was obese. The microbiome from each twin was then transferred to separate groups of mice. The mice that received the microbiome from the obese twin gained more weight than the other group, indicating that an imbalance in gut bacteria (gut dysbiosis) may contribute to obesity. Fortunately, probiotics may help to restore gut health and promote weight loss. It is thought that bacteria may promote weight gain by influencing the way our bodies absorb and process nutrients. They may also produce chemicals that increase appetite or promote inflammation, which can lead to weight gain.
Gut microbiome impacts the way your brain functions-
There is growing evidence that suggests that the gut microbiome has a significant impact on the way the brain functions. This is because the gut microbiome produces a variety of compounds that can influence the brain, including neurotransmitters and hormones. Additionally, the gut microbiome can also affect inflammation levels. Neurotransmitters are essential for the brain and the role of Probiotics in Depression. Serotonin is one neurotransmitter that is produced in the gut and has an impact on brain health via brain chemicals. Probiotics can reduce the likelihood of depression.
Control your diabetes with Probiotics-
The microbiome is the collection of all the microorganisms living in the gut, and it plays a crucial role in regulating metabolism and immunity. Studies have shown that the composition of the gut microbiome is different in people with diabetes and that certain types of gut bacteria are associated with a higher risk of diabetes. Thus, by modulating the gut microbiome, it may be possible to prevent or treat diabetes. Probiotics, which are live microorganisms that promote a healthy gut microbiome, have been shown to improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes. Prebiotics, which are non-digestible fibers that promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, have also been shown to improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity. In addition to probiotics and prebiotics, there are other ways to modulate the gut microbiome, such as by eliminating harmful bacteria with antibiotics, or by consuming certain types of food that promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Thus, by modulating the gut microbiome, it is possible to control diabetes or the chances of getting diabetes.
A good diet is a key to a healthier gut-
There are a few simple things you can do to promote a healthy gut. First, eat a variety of healthy foods including plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods provide essential nutrients and promote a healthy gut microbiome. Second, avoid processed foods and sugar as much as possible. These foods can disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut and lead to digestive problems. Finally, make sure to get enough fiber as it helps to keep the digestive system moving and prevents constipation.
Keep your heart smiling with Probiotics-
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help maintain healthy gut flora. They play a significant role in maintaining your heart health by regulating the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides. Probiotics also help prevent the buildup of plaque in the arteries and reduce inflammation. Probiotics also produce vitamins and enzymes that are important for heart health. Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), which is involved in atherogenesis, is produced with the assistance of an unhealthy microbiome. In addition, probiotics can help prevent and treat other conditions that can lead to heart diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.
Supporting Diabetes Through Gut Health –
The foundational step for taking control of our health is to re-evaluate our diet so as to keep our gut healthy. Research has shown that people with diabetes have lower levels of good gut bacteria that supports healthy glucose levels. These good bacteria in turn support a healthy inflammatory response and also helps to keep the overall gut microbiome balanced and running smoothly. Due to a low intake of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, and prebiotics (resistant starches) that feed these bacteria, the gut environment and its optimal functioning gets compromised. Additionally without healthy probiotics and the postbiotics our gut environment gets inflammatory, thereby compromising digestion. Once the body is inflamed, a number of conditions may develop from mood disorders to IBS to insulin resistance, which is one of the leading causes of diabetes. The role of pre, pro and postbiotics are becoming an increasingly powerful and therapeutic tool for improving the gut environment, gut lining and keeping the overall microbiome balanced and happy so as to lower fasting blood glucose and insulin levels in diabetics.
Fecal transplantation since ancient times-
Have you ever heard of Yellow Soup? Fecal transplantation, also known as gut microbiome transplantation, is a procedure in which “yellow soup” is used to cure diseases. The yellow soup is made from the fecal matter of healthy individuals and is rich in beneficial bacteria that help to restore the gut microbiome of patients with diseases. Fecal transplantation has been shown to be effective in treating a variety of diseases, including Clostridium difficile infection, inflammatory bowel disease, and even obesity.
Your gut feeling has a lot to say, do not ignore it –
Did you know that your gut health is linked to your overall well-being? That’s right – the microbes in your gut can actually lead to diseases if they’re not healthy. It’s important to maintain a healthy gut in order to avoid any discomfort in your intestines and stomach. Additionally, did you know that your gut is actually referred to as your “second brain?” This is because it’s often linked to anxiety and depression. The vagus nerve (which is responsible for stress) is also connected to the intestinal system.
Summing up –
The microbes present in our stomach’s intestines are commonly referred to as the Gut Microbiome. Many countries have taken an interest in advancing science surrounding this topic and have invested a significant amount of resources to gain a greater understanding of the gut microbes’ functions in hopes of reaping maximum benefits.
Your gut health is very important and hence should not be ignored. The road to a healthy body starts with healthy intestines and a healthy gut. Your body needs the right mix of microbes to function properly. By understanding the gut microbiota, you can take steps to ensure a healthy mix of microbes in your gut and gain maximum benefits from it. Learning more about your gut microbiome and how it works in conjunction with your brain and body can help you understand more about your health.
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Source credit for this blog: Dr. Ruhi Agarwala, FM Diagnostics