6 Strange Ways Your Gut Affects Your Health – Healthy Living Association

6 Strange Ways Your Gut Affects Your Health

There are trillions of bacteria in your body. Some good, some bad. And most of these bacteria make their home in your intestine or gut. The bacteria in your gut is called your microbiome, and it is more than impressive in all it does.

When you think about your gut, probably its first job that comes to mind is digesting what you eat. While that is a major part of what your gut does, that’s not nearly all it does.

Researchers and clinicians are finding the gut does a lot more:

  • Absorbs nutrients from food you eat
  • Makes vitamin K
  • Tells you when you’re full through signals to the brain
  • Talks to your immune system
  • Helps keep your hormones in balance
  • Increases clearness of thinking
  • Helps your metabolism
  • Keeps your moods balanced
  • Helps prevent serious illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Fights off other diseases and pathogens

Let’s take a closer look at how your gut affects your health.

  1. There are detergents in your gut. That’s right, just like any dish detergent, the bile acids in your gut works on fats, which are harder to digest and absorb for use in your body. Bile, which is produced by the liver, mixes fats with water making them more easily digested by the enzymes in your gut.
  2. Gut bacteria affect your allergies. The major part of your immune system is in your gut. This close relationship between your gut and immune system is what allows it to help regulate any allergic responses you may have. Your immune system’s major task is to attack pathogens in your body to keep them from making you sick. When you have allergies your immune system is attacking substances like pollen that don’t really threaten your health. The bacteria in your gut help your immune system know what to attack and what to leave alone.

This part of your gut’s job is particularly important for young children. The time in which babies can develop the balance of bacteria needed for the regulation of allergic responses is short. They typically get this balance of bacteria from their mothers. And those babies who are born naturally stand the best chance of developing this balance. It may help to put prebiotics in your infant’s formula to help them with this development.

  1. The bacteria in your gut determine your tastes. You’ve heard how your tastes can change, meaning what you like to eat changes. It depends a great deal on your diet. This kind of change starts with your gut. The bacteria there sense what you eat a lot and begin making your body want that kind of food. In a very real sense, they learn to prefer what you eat the most of.

If you stop eating whatever that food or type of food is, your gut will soon lose its preference for it, and you’ll stop wanting it.

The same thing happens with your appetite overall. Adding prebiotics to your diet appears to reduce your appetite. It probably has to do with balancing the hormones in your gut. Taking care of your gut through diet when you’re trying to lose weight is a lot better than having to depend on willpower to reduce your appetite.

  1. Bacteria in your gut have a great impact on your mood. Your gut has been called your ‘second brain’. This is because it has about 500 million neurons in its lining called the enteric nervous system. This is the source of so-called ‘gut instincts’ and is the source of communication between your gut and brain.

Your gut and brain communicate with each other through the vagus nerve. The bacteria in your gut have a significant impact on the production of neurotransmitters that work in your brain and on the hormones that are part of the stress response of your body. And stress can bring on dysfunction in your gut.

Problems with the bacteria in your gut can lead to mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, either directly or indirectly through other illnesses. Research has shown people feel better emotionally when their gut health is good.

One way your gut affects your emotional health is through a process called dysbiosis. This condition occurs when the bacteria in your gut become imbalanced. It can happen due to poor diet, eating too much sugar, using too many antibiotics, and stress.

When dysbiosis happens, the lining of your gut becomes damaged. This lining is only one cell thick and becomes porous with dysbiosis. This condition is called leaky gut.

With leaky gut, materials cross over into the blood stream from your gut. This leads to inflammation when your immune system attacks these invaders. The inflammation can then travel throughout your system into your brain.

Most of the time, when you have a leaky gut, you also have a leaky brain. In other words, the inflammation can cross into your brain and bring on depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.

Also a consideration in how your gut affects your mood is the fact that your gut produces more serotonin than your brain. This neurotransmitter is the one that serves as a ‘happy’ hormone. Your gut also has 95% of the serotonin receptors in your body. This makes it important for you to take care of your gut health first so that you may not need an antidepressant.

  1. The bacteria in your gut help keep your liver healthy. Not too many people consider their liver, but it is one of the organs in your body responsible for removing toxins from your body. A good way to understand how gut bacteria affect the liver is to look at liver disease. Almost one-third of the people in the U.S. suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. There are several causes of this condition, but one major reason is your gut bacteria.

These bacteria are necessary for the digestion and absorption of choline. The liver needs this nutrient for good functioning. Also, the gut bacteria help metabolize bile acid and have a great effect on inflammation that can affect the liver negatively.

  1. Your gut bacteria have a large impact on inflammation. Having systemic inflammation is like living with a wound that gets re-opened time after time. This continuing irritation keeps your immune system working overtime, producing more inflammation.

When your gut bacteria sense a continuing irritation from your diet, they stimulate the production of more inflammation. This kind of inflammation that begins in your gut has been linked to obesity, autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic kidney disease.

The kind of irritation that leads to continuing inflammation in the gut is repeated every time you eat whatever food caused the irritation. That could be every day. This means your gut is being injured day after day after day.

Your gut has to keep on working, even though it is injured. Imagine having to walk on a badly sprained ankle. This is what your gut goes through with inflammation.

 

What Can You Do To Improve Gut Health?

The imbalance between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in your gut is brought on by diet. So is the overgrowth of fungi that are found in your gut. Both of these lead to an unhealthy gut.

Diets that include too little fiber, too much sugar, and are too processed are the culprits. Add to this an overuse of antibiotics, some kinds of antacids, and medications that fight inflammation, and you have a set-up for dysbiosis.

Of course, the most important thing you can do to improve your gut health is to improve your diet. Increase consumption of whole foods that contain lots of fiber. This includes beans, nuts, vegetables, and whole grains.

Eating fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, and yogurt can help build your gut bacteria.

Decrease the amount of artificial sweeteners you consume. They have been shown to add to the growth of ‘bad’ bacteria in your gut.

Increase the amount of prebiotic, fiber-containing foods to increase the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut.

If you are pregnant, plan to breastfeed your baby for six months in order to increase the potential for developing a strong gut system.

Use antibiotics sparingly.

Drink plenty of water.

Get enough exercise on a regular basis.

Do what is necessary to get stress out of your life.

Get plenty of sleep. Most people get less than seven hours of good sleep per night. Seven hours is considered the minimum for good health. It allows your body to rejuvenate and repair itself.

Consider using both probiotics and prebiotics. Many of the commercially available probiotics will not survive the stomach acids and enzymes in the digestive tract and never get to the large intestines where they will do some good. Prebiotics with a lot of fiber are a better choice because they can be converted into nutrients your bacteria can use to multiply.

Not only will you feel better physically, your mood will improve when you make these changes. Your gut will love you for it.

References

9 Amazing, Weird Facts About Your Gut  https://health.clevelandclinic.org/9-amazing-weird-facts-gut/

8 Reasons your Health Depends on your Gut Flora  https://paleoleap.com/health-depends-on-your-gut-flora/

7 Reasons to Listen to Your Gut  http://www.nmbreakthroughs.org/daily-health/7-reasons-to-listen-to-your-gut

13 Powerful Reasons to Heal Your Gut and Feel Better Now https://emptynestbliss.com/heal-your-gut/

Reasons Why the Gut Microbiome is Vital for Your Health  https://zanajuices.com/reasons-why-the-gut-microbiome-is-vital-for-your-health/

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