Your body is home to trillions of all kinds of bacteria, viruses and fungi. They are collectively known as the microbiome. While some bacteria are associated with disease, others are actually extremely important for your immune system, heart, brain weight and many other aspects of health.
So, why is the gut microbiome so important?
The gut microbiome is intrinsic to overall good health and without it, it would be very difficult to survive.
There are a number of different ways in which the gut microbiome affects your body's overall function and health, below are some of the ways I think are most interesting:
As I mentioned, there are good and bad bacteria living in your gut but it's vital that the balance tips towards the good for overall, good health. There is strong evidence to show that having too many unhealthy microbes can lead to disease and contribute to weight gain.
Interestingly, in one study involving twins, when the microbiome from an obese twin was transferred into mice, the mice gained more weight than those that received the microbiome of the thin twin, despite both groups eating the same diet. Proving that the microbiome may play a role in weight gain.
Certain bacteria within the gut microbiome can produce chemicals that may block arteries and lead to heart disease. However, there is good evidence to suggest that taking certain probiotics, may help lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.
OK, so I'm sure you now know all about probiotics but what about PSYCHOBIOTICS?
The term psychobiotics was coined in 2013 by clinical psychiatrist Professor Ted Dinan and neuroscientist Professor John Cryan. It refers to the friendly bacteria that play a role in the communication between your gut and the activity of your brain, also known as the It is now widely recognised that the bacteria living in our gut communicate directly with our brain via the nervous system, and are integrally linked to the workings and the health of our brain.
A number of studies have shown that people with various psychological disorders have different species of bacteria in their guts, compared to healthy people. This suggests that a healthy gut really does make for a healthy mind.
Learn more about Psychobiotics
What are the benefits of a Healthy Gut?
While there's still much we don't know about the trillions of bugs living inside our gut, what we do know is that they are vital for our health and wellbeing.
Some of the many reasons those bugs (or microbiota) in our gut are worth looking after include:
Supporting digestion: When our gut microbiota are out of balance we can experience digestive issues such as bloating and abdominal pain;
Absorbing nutrients: As well as helping us digest food, our gut microbiota also help us absorb nutrients from our diet;
Supporting wellbeing: Another sign of an out of balance microbiome is feeling sluggish and lethargic or suffering from low mood;
Supporting immunity: At least 70% of our immune system resides in our gut - and our microbiota can train and trigger our immune response.
It's thought the more diverse the population of bugs in our gut, the healthier we are likely to be. To find out more about how to look after your microbiota, take a look at our blogs.
Learn More About Your Gut
If you’ve just started learning more about your gut function, some terms may make it confusing to get to grips with! That’s why we’ve put together a list key words used when talking about the gut, along with their definitions, to help you make sense of it all.