Why Your Gut Microbiome Matters
There’s been soooo much buzz lately about the microbiome. It’s everywhere.So much so that you may be left wondering whether it really matters or if it’s just another fad that will blow over. Well, yes, it does matter and I’m going to talk through why that is and what you should be doing about it.
WHAT IS THE MICROBIOME
Firstly, let’s talk about what the microbiome actually is. It’s basically a combination of all the different microbes, bacteria, funghi etc that live in your gut. And, there’s a lot of them. In fact, only 10% of the cells in your body are human. The remaining 90% are microbes, in your gut microbiome. So, considering they make up the majority of your body, they’re pretty important.
Interestingly, each person’s microbiome is different - your microbiome is as unique as your fingerprint.
WHY THE GUT MICROBIOME MATTERS
OK, so you get what the microbiome is and the sheer size of it, but what does this gut bacteria actually do and why is it so important?
1. Help us digest our food
Most of these bacteria live in the large intestine. However, most of your digestion happens in the small intestine. This means that all the leftovers that your small intestine can’t digest (like indigestible plant food) are hanging out in the large intestine. The gut bacteria eats all of this indigestible fibre in a sort of fermentation process. Without this bacteria, this indigestible fibre wouldn’t be eaten up and would cause all sorts of havoc in your gut.
2. Create essential building blocks
When the gut bacteria eats this indigestible fibre in your large intestine, it ferments it and creates nutritional molecules for your body. These include vitamin K, amino acids, short chain fatty acids, neurotransmitters and enzymes. These all perform really important functions in the body, which wouldn’t be able to happen without that bacteria.
3. Can starve out bad bacteria if strong enough
So, inside the gut, you want lots of this good bacteria, but you don’t want the harmful kind. If these good bacteria are strong, and there’s enough of them, they can actually act to starve out any of the bad bacteria that gets into your gut, keeping you healthy.
4. Control hunger and motility
Your gut bacteria send regulatory signals to your brain via the gut-brain axis (which just refers to the connection between your gut and your brain), which control your hunger levels and the speed at which food moves through your gut. Therefore, your gut bacteria actually decide when you feel hungry and full, and whether you digest things quickly or slowly. This can have a big impact on your weight.
5. Regulate your mood
Your gut bacteria can even influence your mood. Again, this is through the gut-brain axis. One example of this is the fact that your gut bacteria is responsible for producing most of the serotonin in your body. Serotonin is the ‘happy’ hormone so, if your bacteria is out of whack, then they can’t produce enough of this and you can be left feeling low and anxious.
6. Determine which drugs/supplements will work for you
The type of bacteria you have in your gut can also determine whether certain drugs or supplements will work for you. This is because they influence how things are digested and what neurotransmitters they then trigger in your body. You could take something when your gut is out of balance that has no effect on you. However, if your gut bacteria was in balance, it might be very effective.
7. Control inflammation
I mentioned earlier that your gut bacteria produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) when they eat the fibre in your gut. These SCFAs down-regulate inflammatory pathogens across your body. This means that they play a part in reducing inflammation, which can be in the form of sore joints, headaches, swelling, stomach pain and bloating, and skins issues, and these are just a few. This means that balancing the bacteria in your gut can reduce inflammation.
8. Control your cravings
Find yourself craving sugar and carbs? Are you always beating yourself up about it? Well, it may not actually be your fault. It may be your gut bacteria craving those things, not you. This is because the bad bacteria in your gut crave ‘unhealthy’ foods, whereas the good bacteria crave ‘healthy foods.’ If your gut microbiome is in balance, you should be craving healthy, nutritious foods, and if you’re craving sugar and carbs, it could be a sign that your microbiome is out of whack.
These are just a few of the things that you gut microbiome can influence within your body. It impacts your digest, whether you get diseases, your immunity, inflammation, your weight and more. Hopefully this helps show you how incredibly important the gut bacteria that make up your microbiome are.
WHEN YOUR GUT MICROBIOME IS OUT OF BALANCE
You’ve now seen the huge list of bodily functions that your microbiome influences. So, you can only imagine the havoc that’s causes when it’s not functioning properly.
We call this ‘mis-functioning’ gut dysbiosis, which means there is an imbalance of the bacteria in your gut. If there’s any imbalance, you’ve got too many of the ‘bad’ bacteria in there and not enough of the ‘good’ bacteria, or you have a very limited variety of bacteria.
The bad news is that gut dysbiosis can impact all the things we mentioned above, and can leave you more susceptible to diseases and bad health.
The good news is that you can correct the dysbiosis and return your gut microbiome to balance. These bacteria change very easily and they can quickly be reproduced, so we can affect them and this is all reversible!
A balanced microbiome can prevent so many different problems and diseases. The healthier and more balanced your microbiome is, the healthier your body is.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO SUPPORT YOUR MICROBIOME
There are 2 ways of approaching this. Firstly, you need to reduce things in your diet and lifestyle that can harm bacteria diversity and secondly, you need to add things in to increase diversity and feed the good bacteria. These are the 2 key elements of microbiome balancing diet.
My next two blog posts will focus on these 2 key elements. If you want them sent straight to your inbox when they’re ready, pop in your details below.
Your gut microbiome makes up 90% of the cells in your body, so it’s very important.
The microbiome is a combination of all the different microbes, bacteria, funghi etc that live in your gut, and your microbiome is as unique as your fingerprint.
The bacteria that make up your gut microbiome matter because:
Help us digest our food
Create essential building blocks
Can starve out bad bacteria if strong enough
Control hunger and motility
Regulate your mood
Determine which drugs/supplements will work for you
Control your cravings
When your microbiome is out of balance, you’re more susceptible to disease and bad health, as well as cravings, weight gain, inflammation and much more.
The great news is that you can reverse an imbalance and, in the next 2 weeks, I’m going to show you how.
Did any of these functions of the microbiome surprise you? Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and I hope it’s helped you on your journey to taking control of your gut, eating well and living your life.