The word bacteria normally has a negative association. Bacteria has become a generalised term we use to describe infections, diseases, and germs. However, not all bacteria are bad. In fact, our bodies are made up of approximately three pounds of microbiota, or ‘mini-ecosystem’ of microorganisms like bacteria, that live inside or around our gastrointestinal (GI) tract! Scientists estimate that we have over three trillion microorganisms living in our intestines or ‘gut flora’ alone.
Your Gut: Why is Bacteria Important?
For the most part, we have a symbiotic relationship with the microbiota that are in and around our body.
Bacteria’s essential roles in the body include:
- Digestion and nutrient absorption
- Mood/ Psychological wellbeing
- Cognitive function
Gut bacteria also:
- Produces enzymes that support digestion
- Provides Vitamin B and Vitamin K
- Produces short chain fatty acids
- Influences metabolic rate
What Happens When Our Gut is Imbalanced?
Poor Microbiota can negatively impact our ability to:
- Synthesize vitamins
- Regulate bowel movements
- Digest protein
- Produce natural antibiotics necessary to prevent growth of pathogens and crowd out harmful bacteria.
Poor Gut Health: Immune System, Obesity and Insulin
When we do not properly take care of our gut flora we have a higher risk of getting ill. Normally, foreign pathogens are not able to thrive inside our gut because there are not enough resources for them to survive. (Imagine a hotel that is full capacity). If we do not keep our microbiota healthy, and they begin to die, pathogens are able to settle in our gut and make us sick.
Having the wrong proportions of the right kinds of microbiota can also have consequences on many body functions. Sometimes different proportions of already existing bacteria can influence overall health.
Obesity & Insulin
Obesity may also be connected to our microbiota. When comparing lean and obese humans, researchers found that different proportions of naturally occurring microbiota may alter the ability to extract calories from ingested food. An extraordinary ability to extract calories may lead to unwanted weight gain.
Changes in insulin production can be a result of poor microbiota. When our gut flora is unbalanced our body responds and becomes inflamed. The inflammation obstructs the path of insulin through our system and our bodies must produce more insulin to overcome these obstacles. The improper bacterial composition can cause our body to release heightened levels of insulin.
Your Gut Feelings- A Second Brain in Our Gut?
Additionally, gut microbiota can have an impact not only on our physical health, but on our mental health. Scientists have determined a link between your GI tract and the Central Nervous System of our brain called the ‘gut-brain axis’. Scientists still have a lot to learn about the gut-brain axis, but research has found significant data that supports the idea that gut flora may impact mental health and the visa versa.
The Gut-Brain Axis has been found to influence:
- Mood such as stress, anxiety, depression
- Cognitive function such as curiosity sociability and impulsivity
How to Maintain a Healthy Gut?
Healthy gut microbiota is influenced by many things including genetics, environment, health status, and mode of birth. However, diet and nutrition intake are some of the most critical modifiable factors that influence our gut microbiota throughout our lives.
Nourishing your body with healthy foods helps to improve your overall health and gut health too. Proper diet is essential to a healthy gut. Mental state is also a contributing factor to poor gut flora and should not be neglected.
How to Repair and Restore Your Gut Health
Whether you are struggling with irregular bowel symptoms, obesity or diabetes, or have low energy and find yourself in a poor mood, you may have poor gut microbiota. Our team at WeightMatters can help you reverse your gut health. We use technologies such as stool profiling to create a comprehensive and personalised treatment for you. Additionally, our team of nutritionists, psychologists, and dieticians can teach you how to make health conscious eating choices and de-stress your life. The nutritional and psychology therapy we offer is a unique collaboration aimed to target both the physical and mental aspects of gut microbiota.
For more information on how WeightMatters can help you, we can arrange a 10-minute cal with our Nutritional Therapist, https://weightmatters.co.uk/explore-our-services/nutritional-therapy/