The precarious balance of microorganisms that reside in our digestive system is known as gut health. The right balance of microorganisms in our digestive tract is vital for our mental and physical well-being and also positively affects our immunity.
The trillions of bacteria, viruses, and yeasts that reside in our digestive tract are collectively known as gut flora or gut microbiome like microbiome mega prebiotic. While some of these microbes are essential for maintaining good health, others can be quite detrimental to our health.
Importance of Microorganisms in Our Gut
The gut flora is a complex ecosystem comprising almost 500 types of bacterial species. Most of this ecosystem exists in the large intestine of the colon. Astonishingly, the metabolic activity of the gut flora is similar to that of an organ, which is why many scientists also call the gut ecosystem the “forgotten organ”.
The gut flora is responsible for many bodily functions like manufacturing essential vitamins like B and K vitamins. Apart from this, it also transforms fibers into short-chain fats like acetate, propionate, and butyrate. These fats feed into the gut wall to strengthen and stimulate it apart from performing several other metabolic functions.
The delicate balance of the gut flora is highly sensitive to our diet and even a minute imbalance can lead to numerous health conditions like metabolic syndrome, obesity, type 2 diabetes, depression, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and colorectal cancer. Gut health supplements, probiotics, and many other substances can help maintain the balance between the good and bad microbiome to keep the gut flora functioning properly.
5 Ways to Improve Gut Health and Maintain Overall Health
Here are 5 scientifically proven ways to maintain and improve the gut ecosystem and improve our health.
Gut Health Supplements:
Gut health supplements support and enhance the digestive process and we can reap the following benefits by consuming them:
- Making nutrient absorption easier at an acceptable level
- Making sure that the chyme is of the right size and texture
- Ensuring that we do not experience any discomfort or pain during the digestive process
- Ensuring that we do not get constipation or diarrhea
Apart from these, many gut health supplements do not support the digestive process directly but function on a cellular level to support digestion. For example, supplements tend to change our gut microflora in a way that would benefit our health.
Consume Fermented Food and Probiotics:
To enhance the function of good bacteria in our digestive tract, many people resort to consuming fermented foods and probiotic supplements. Several scientific studies have found that consuming probiotic supplements not only supports a healthy microbiome but can also prevent intestinal problems and inflammation from taking place.
Cutting Down on Sugar and Sweeteners:
Consuming too much sugar or sweeteners can lead to an imbalance in the gut microbes resulting in gut dysbiosis. A 2015 study studied animals and concluded that the western diet which is usually high in fat and sugar negatively affects the gut bacteria and can impact the brain and behavior as well.
Another study found that aspartame in artificial sweeteners increases the number of bacterial strains that are associated with metabolic health conditions. A metabolic disease is a group of health conditions that leads to a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Stress is a leading factor in many health conditions including poor gut health. Certain studies shave found that stress can disturb the delicate balance of microorganisms in our gut even for a short period.
Several psychological stressors can adversely affect our gut health. These include:
- Environmental stress like noise, heat, or cold
- Psychological stress
- Circadian rhythm disruption
- Sleep deprivation
There are various ways to manage stress like deep breathing, muscle relaxation exercises, and meditation. A healthy diet and sound sleep are also some of the ways to manage stress.
The benefits of regular exercise are well known to everyone. It contributes to weight maintenance, good heart health, as well as weight loss. Apart from these beneficial aspects of regular exercise, studies also suggest that it improves our digestive health and can control obesity significantly.
Additionally, working out has also been found to increase species diversity among the gut microbiome. A 2014 study found that gut flora athletes contain a lot more species of microbiomes when compared to non-athletes.
A healthy gut means a healthy body and immune system. Gut health supplements along with a proper diet and lifestyle will maintain the delicate balance in the gut flora. A proper, fiber-rich diet along with the right probiotics can bring in many positive changes in your digestive health.
However, it is also important to consult your doctor before making any drastic changes in your diet or taking gut health supplements. This is because many people might have medical conditions that might not go well with the supplements or the changes in the diet.