We all know the contributions that heart health, dental hygiene and physical fitness play in a healthy lifestyle. While all of these are definitely important, rarely is gut health a topic of conversation. Most of us know now that there are good bacteria and bad bacteria. Gut bacteria are the good guys that impact important components of your health – from digestion to the immune system. When we have too little or too much gut bacteria, this can adversely affect our health and wellness and could cause some problems.
What is the Role of Gut Bacteria?
There are hundreds of various bacteria living inside your gut. These, and the other tiny organisms in your system, create the “microbiome.” Literally meaning “tiny biological community,” the microbiome in your gut serves mainly to supply essential nutrients, producing vitamin K, aiding in digestion and promoting nerve functions. Everyone’s microbiome is unique, based on family history, diet and lifestyle. On the other hand, they may be harmful when antibiotics, illness, stress, aging, bad dietary habits and smoking, as well as lifestyle changes are introduced into the gut ecosystem.
What Are Health Risks Linked to Poor Gut Health?
Your gut health affects your body’s metabolism. Gut bacteria determine how many calories and the type of nutrients you draw from foods. Having too much gut bacteria in your system can turn fiber into fatty acids that can affect the liver. This metabolic syndrome can often lead to type-2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity. A weakened immune system can also be linked to an overgrowth of gut bacteria. Getting sick more often than normal can be a sign of this. Acid reflux can also be caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in your gut.
There are more implications of insufficient or unhealthy gut bacteria. You may start to notice diarrhea or constipation as a result of digestive issues at the molecular level. If you have an unhealthy gut, you are likely to experience inflammatory- autoimmune issues like acne, psoriasis, eczema or dermatitis. Another possible outcome of an unhealthy gut is anxiety and depression. Your gut and brain are connected through a special axis. We all know the moody feeling we get when we’re hungry. If your gut is unhealthy, your brain can go haywire.
Healthy Gut Habits
Having a more diverse gut microbiome stimulates better health and reduces your risk of disease. Try improving your dietary habits. A good start is with fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Consuming too much fat and sugar and not enough fiber can kill certain types of gut bacteria, making your microbiota less diverse. Exercise can also encourage healthy gut bacteria. You also want to avoid antibiotics as much as possible. Only take them when advised by a doctor.
Food definitely affects gut health, either for good or bad. For more information on how to protect your digestive system, contact Austin Gastroenterology. We’ll be happy to assist you in all matters concerning your gastro intestines and over all digestive health. To make an appointment visit our online portal for both new and existing clients.