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Effects of the Gut Microbiome on Your Body

What is gut microbiome?

Trillions of microorganisms comprising bacteria, viruses and fungi live in your gastrointestinal tract and is collectively called the gut microbiome.  They impact everything from your body weight, metabolism and mood to your predisposition to illness, immune system and appetite.  There has been a dramatic increase in chronic diseases across the world. The gut microbiome is now the primary focus in our pursuit for better medicines and healthier outcomes.

Effects of the gut microbiome on your body

Your state of health is determined by the state of your gut microbiome.  It helps in maturing, strengthening and proper functioning of your immune system. Human gut microbial groups also produce vitamins that get absorbed by the large intestine.  Many vitamins like vitamin K and B group vitamins are synthesized by the gut microbiota. These include cobalamin, biotin, nicotinic acid, folates, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamine and pyridoxine.

Dysbiosis is a condition when there is an imbalance in the gut microbial population. This can be due to gain or loss of bacteria. The condition can either promote health or disease, either inside your body or on your skin.  Dysbiosis has been linked to medical conditions like:

Heart conditions:  Your gut microbiome can affect the atherosclerotic plaques in the arteries of your heart unfavorably. The gut microbiome can increase the chances of a plaque to rupture, lessening the capacity of the artery to widen and increasing the likelihood of blood to clot – all leading to a heart condition.  As per several studies, patients with heart disease are found to have markers of a more inflammatory gut territory than that of healthy people.

Diabetes:  Similar to coronary heart disease, the helpful or ‘good’ species of bacteria are in a larger number in the gut of people with diabetes as compared to those without a diabetic condition. Healthy people are inclined to have less quantity of opportunistic bacteria (disease causing bacteria that only infect patients who are immunocompromised or with underlying diseases) in their colon as compared to diabetic patients.

Obesity:  Gut microbiota can influence the development of obesity, too.  According to research, bacteria can influence weight gain, may prompt or decrease your hunger response, and can even shield you from the disease of obesity and related ailments.  Microbes in the gut can extract energy from the food you take in, thereby impacting how your body breaks down and stores fat.

HypertensionStudies indicate that when there is dysbiosis in the diversity, richness, and Firmicutes:Bacteroidetes ratio in our gut microbiome, it can lead to hypertension in both human and animal studies.

Cancer:  Several different species of the human microbiome are believed to account for approximately 20% of all cases of cancer worldwide.

Brain:  Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that are produced by certain species of bacteria.  Serotonin, for e.g., is an antidepressant neurotransmitter that is, for the most part, made in the gut. Moreover, millions of nerves connect the gut physically to the brain.  Your gut microbiome can, therefore, play a vital role in regulating the health of your brain and nervous system.

Gut health:  Your eating habits and diet determines whether your gut microbiome population is a healthy one or not.  You can boost your ‘good’ bacteria by eating the right kind of food. These include probiotics, fermented food, fibrous foods and vegetables, collagen-rich foods, etc.

Keeping your gut happy is therefore the easiest way to stay smiling, isn’t it?