Bodily systems work together in intricate ways. There are 11 major systems in the human body. The nervous system sends important signals throughout the body, the cardiovascular system sends nutrients through constant blood flow, and the respiratory system keeps air in the lungs. Every single organ network has a specific job to do, and when they’re running optimally, good health follows.
The digestive system is in charge of breaking down food and turning it into fuel. It is directly responsible for energy levels, growth, and repairs on a cellular level. The digestive system relies on many things to function properly, and one of those things is your microbiome (or gut biome).
What is your gut biome?
The gut biome is a community of bacteria that can be found in a pocket of the large intestines. These bacteria are living microbes, and there are trillions of them inside the body. They play an important role in healthy digestion and organ health.
Why is healthy gut bacteria so important?
The amount of bacteria found in each person’s microbiome, and the type, varies from person to person just like a blood type. Some research suggest that the microbiome begins forming as early as in the womb when exposed to microbes. It begins forming on its own during infancy, and certain amounts of bacteria come from different sources. As the microbiome continues to form and accumulate larger amounts of different good bacteria, it contributes to health in a big way.
Healthy gut bacteria is vital to the proper function of the human body. Although its main job is to ensure proper digestion, research has found that levels of gut bacteria can directly impact most organ systems.
How does gut bacteria affect your health?
Often referred to as an “organ” all on its own, the microbiome has a direct line to many processes in the body, including:
Gut health. This includes how the body digests nutrients and sends them throughout the body.
Mood stabilization and brain function. How the brain develops and functions throughout life can be directly related to how healthily the gut is functioning.
Metabolism function. The metabolism is an important part of the overall function of the gut and plays a direct role in how energy is dispersed.
Weight. Being over- or underweight can lead to variety of chronic illnesses that could be avoided.
Immune system function. The immune system is the body’s first line of defense against illness and disease and needs to be running smoothly for overall health.
Gut health has been the main system studied when it comes to the body’s biome; however, recent research has determined that it can have a serious impact on more than just digestion and gut health. The latest on the connection between the gut and the brain is referred to as the microbiota-gut-brain-axis hypothesis. It states that there’s much more riding on healthy gut bacteria than initially thought.
One recent study found that gut health can even have a direct link to how the brain develops in early life and then eventually degenerates during senescence. Although more research is needed on the subject, these new findings have made it that much more important to take care of your gut health.
How to improve your microbiome
Since your microbiome health depends on a number of factors, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy level of good bacteria in a modern world. With processed food diets, stress, and lack of exercise, the health of your microbiome can suffer. But there are ways to improve your gut biome health.
Good nutrition is a vital component to overall health. When the body gets the nutrients it needs, its systems function properly and do what they’re supposed to. To help improve your microbiome, you can start by watching what you eat. This doesn’t mean going on an all-vegetable diet, but rather knowing your own body and eating accordingly.
In one study, it was suggested that since the microbiome varies from person to person, there is no one-size-fits-all diet. The study mentions a method of “precision dieting”, a way of eating to suit your own personal microbiome health. Of course, eating a diet rich in wholefoods that help prevent inflammation and oxidative stress will increase the chances of a healthy gut, but it’s more personal than that.
Another possible way to improve your gut health is by adopting a regular exercise routine. Recent evidence has found that aerobic exercise may be a pathway to improving gut health by bettering the amount of good bacteria present.
3. Natural treatments
You’ve probably heard that fermented foods can help improve gut bacteria. It’s not all hype, either. It’s been found that fermented foods can contain live microorganisms that can help restore the healthy function of the gut in those who consume these foods regularly. The amount of good bacteria found in the studied retail products varied significantly, though.
4. Medical treatments
For those who suffer from chronic digestive illnesses such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), medical treatments can be a great help when it comes to improving gut biome. Things such as fecal transplantation and probiotic/prebiotic supplementation are treatment options when your gut health is less than optimal. One study dove into the various treatments for an imbalanced gut microbiome and found that there is no treatment plan that can be generalized. Since gut health is so personalized, treatment must be too.
It’s worth noting that the aforementioned treatment plans may not work for everyone, but improving your gut health isn’t an impossible task. Genetics play a role in how it’s formed and what bacteria thrive inside your gut, but you can decide how to proceed with your gut health by using one – or all – of the methods mentioned above, with direction from your doctor.