Trillions of tiny creatures call your body home, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and others. They’re not always bad news, and in fact, our health depends on having a thriving collection of microbes.
Your large intestine is the largest repository of microbes—about three pounds’ worth according to some estimates. If you could count the number of individual bacterial cells, you’d find that although they are small, they vastly outnumber our own, human cells.
I’m going to see The Secret World Inside You at the American Museum of Natural history next week. A great time to remind everyone about the importance of the health of our digestive tract (aka gut).
“While each of us has a unique microbiota, it always fullfils the same physiological functions, with direct impact on our health. ”
Some of the functions are:
- It helps the body to digest certain foods that the stomach and small intestine have not been able to digest.
- It helps with the production of some vitamins (B and K).
- It helps us combat aggressions from other microorganisms, maintaining the wholeness of the intestinal mucosa.
- It plays an important role in the immune system, performing a barrier effect.
- A healthy and balanced gut microbiota is key to ensuring proper digestive functioning.
Taking into account the major role gut microbiota plays in the normal functioning of the body and the different functions it accomplishes, experts nowadays consider it as an “organ”. However, it is an “acquired” organ, as babies are born sterile; that is, intestine colonisation starts right after birth and evolves as we grow.”
“Millions of microbes enter your body at every meal. Indeed, after your skin, the digestive system is the main place where your body comes in contact with microbes.
The microbiome of your gut doesn’t just effect what happens there. New research shows that the state of your gut can impact your moods and behavior. Mood-affecting chemicals like serotonin are produced in large quantities in the gut…..”
“The immune system doesn’t develop properly without signals from skin microbes. Microbes can influence obesity and have been linked to a variety of inflammatory and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. Clearly, our health is linked with the health of our tiny passengers…..”
There are a number of factors that contribute to the health of your gut microbiome, including your environment, the amount of exercise and sleep you get, and of course, stress. But the number one factor that determines what microbes live in your gut (and which ones die off) is your diet.
Come back for a future article outlining the optimal food plan for your gut microbiome….and ultimately, your health.
Some great resources for your self discovery: