The gut microbiome is filled with billions of gut flora, which are “good” and “bad” bacteria. Our digestive system and the beneficial microbes residing in it digest food, synthesize vitamins, assist with immune functions, and even affect our moods. The harmful bacteria can affect the body negatively as well.
What happens if there are too many harmful bacteria in the gut?
When there are too many “bad” bacteria in the gut, it often leads to problems such as inflammation and a weakened immune response.
Inflammation (swelling) occurs when the body tries to protect itself against injury, infection, or harm. Inflammation is the result of unwanted toxins entering the body or an excess of fat cells. (1) Frequently, lifestyle choices such as a lack of exercise or a poor diet may contribute to inflammation. For example, there is a link between an excess of sugar and inflammation in the body. When too much sugar is present in one’s diet, it may contribute to chronic, low-grade inflammation. (2) When inflammation occurs in the gut, it may trigger an unwanted immune response. This means that the immune system may be attacking organs, joints, or arteries that are already healthy. (3)
To learn more about some signs of an unhealthy gut, click here.
Why it's important to take care of your gut:
Taking care of your gut is means you’re also taking care of your body. The gut microbiome is home to about 70% of the immune system. (4) When “good” bacteria are abundant, it helps determine whether the immune system is activated.
Some professionals have nicknamed the gut as “the second brain” because of the gut-brain axis. Our gut is responsible for producing 95% of the body’s serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps us feel happy. Because the gut produces most of our serotonin, it can also be linked to our emotional response and mood. The gut “communicates” with the nerves in the lining of the stomach. The gut bacteria and the brain “communicate” back and forth to each other. (5)
What are some ways to improve gut health?
Changing lifestyle or diet are both effective ways to help improve gut health. Eliminate high fat and high sugar foods and incorporate more whole foods like vegetables and fruits. Getting the recommended amount of exercise and sleep will also do wonders for your gut. In addition to everything mentioned above, adding a prebiotic or probiotic into your daily routine will also help improve and nourish the “good” bacteria in the gut.
Good health is associated with a healthy gut, which, in turn, means having an excellent microbial population in our colon. A healthy gut means a healthy you!
- Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). What is inflammation? Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-disease-overview/ask-the-doctor-what-is-inflammation
- Person. (2017, November 12). Does Sugar Cause Inflammation in the Body? Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sugar-and-inflammation
- January 15, 2020, | W. & P. (2020, March 6). Six Ways to Reduce Inflammation. Retrieved from https://www.scripps.org/news_items/4232-six-keys-to-reducing-inflammation
- Vighi, G., Marcucci, F., Sensi, L., Di Cara, G., & Frati, F. (2008, September). Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515351/
- Tang, L. (2019, February 12). How the bacteria in your gut affect your mind and body. Retrieved from https://abcnews.go.com/Health/bacteria-gut-affect-mind-body/story?id=60908589