(What is gut microbiome and how to make it happy?)

At first glance, our gut is just a single organ in a multiple-systems universe that is the human body. In reality, the GI tract acts as a home for one of the most important, complex and yet invisible to an eye system that plays a crucial role in maintaining our overall health – gut microbiome. Your large intestine is home to trillions of microorganisms which interacts with the whole body in a variety of ways. Research consistently demonstrates that the gut microbiome is not only involved in the process of digestion but also directly affects the immune system, cardiovascular and hormone health, mood and even behaviour. Let’s dig a little deeper into how those tiny creatures affect our lives.


The gut’s main function is digestion, absorption of nutrients, and elimination of waste products. It also houses about 70% of the body's immune system. Most importantly, it also provides a home to your unique gut microbiome: a complex ecosystem that consists of a variety of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. These microorganisms interact with each other and with you 24/7, all year round. No surprise that maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is critical to overall health and wellbeing. Here are some tips on how to maintain a healthy gut:


There are over 500 different species of microorganisms that live in our gut lining and they all like to eat different foods – just like ourselves. Thus making sure you have a varied diet is key to making your friendly gut bacteria happy. A varied diet should include around 30 different plants per week, and that includes seeds, grains and herbs as well. So it’s not as unattainable as it sounds. Choose fruits and veggies of different colours and include loads of fibre in your meals – the main source of energy for your gut microorganisms.


Research shows that a diet high in processed foods, such as cereals, bars, crisps and chips leads to dysbiosis, a reduction in the number of gut bacteria, and increases the risk of developing chronic diseases. Try to opt for whole foods, something that you would see naturally existing in the environment, a banana, an avocado, raw salmon or whole rice grains.


Fermented foods are made by adding live microorganisms, similar to those in our gut lining, to a food product. Historically, food fermentation was used as a way of preserving produce as live microorganisms reduce the risk of contamination by pathogens. More importantly for the modern world, fermented foods contain probiotic organisms, such as lactic acid, which greatly support and boost the diversity of bacteria in our gut. Great examples would include kefir, kimchi, sourdough and yoghurt.


Some over-the-counter medicines and antibiotics can be lifesaving medications, but they can also disrupt the gut microbiome. Overuse of antibiotics or antiacid drugs can lead to dysbiosis, which can cause a range of health problems. It is essential to use any medication and especially, antibiotics only when necessary and to follow your healthcare provider's instructions. Probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that can be found in fermented foods and supplements, can help restore the gut microbiome after antibiotic use.


While supplementing with probiotics can be helpful for so many people, it is essential to note that not all probiotics are created equal. Different strains of bacteria have different effects on the gut microbiome, and more research is needed to determine which strains are most beneficial. Additionally, a capsule with live microorganisms should safely reach your gut lining and settle bacteria there that’s why it’s important to do your research on the technology and development behind the brand you are choosing before flushing all your money down the toilet (literally).


Recent research has shown that sleep deprivation significantly alters our gut microbiome, and decreases the number of friendly bacteria in our intestines. Chronic lack of sleep sets your body into a stress mode and elevated cortisol negatively affects both hormonal health and digestion. Additionally, there is a direct communication link between our brain and gut. About 85% of all serotonin, a hormone of happiness, is produced in our gut lining.

Persistent stress results in increased inflammation in the whole body, including the gut microbiome, creating a negative loop, where microorganisms affect our hormones and neurotransmitters and vice versa. Stress management techniques, such as meditation, yoga, breathwork and exercise, can support you in improving gut health.


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