What if we told you that there are not ten, not a thousand, but a trillion microorganisms living inside your stomach? Would it cause you to worry? Well, stay calm because these microorganisms collectively make up your gut microbiome, which helps keep your body healthy.
What is a gut microbiome?
A gut microbiome is a collection of viruses, fungi and bacteria that reside in the stomach. They assist in digestion of food consumed on a daily basis. Additionally, these microorganisms are crucial for our wellbeing as they are responsible for the absorption of nutrients from our food.
The gut microbiome exists in a sack-like structure located in the large intestine which is known as the cecum. The microbiome is responsible for much of our health, and it is known to consist of a lot of good bacteria, which help in the proper synthesis of nutrients from the food.
However, this does not mean that all bacteria is good. Some of these microbes are also responsible for ailments such as headaches, heart issues, improper digestion, diabetes, and more. We will cover more on that later in this article.
How does the gut microbiome keep us healthy?
For the curious minds, this is the first question that pops up in the head. Even before we are born, our first exposure to the microbiome takes place via the mother’s placenta. Over the years, as we start growing up, the body develops its own microbiome in the gut. The composition of these microbes change as we get older, depending vastly on our body’s requirements at the time. Some of the ways in which the gut microbiome takes care of us are as follows:
How can I improve my gut microbiome?
Improving gut microbiome is a personal choice. If you are facing problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or a leaky gut syndrome, chances are that your gut health leaves something to be desired. This means that the gut microbiome balance has been disturbed and a host of ‘bad’ bacteria are now present in excess quantities. Luckily, with the following steps, you can take steps to try to rebalance your gut microbiome:
A healthy diet can work wonders as it makes the process of digestion easy. Foods rich in probiotics and prebiotics tend to introduce good bacteria like lactobacillus in our gut, making it healthier.
A good night’s sleep can not only help you wake up feeling more energetic in the morning, but also gives the time for your body to recuperate. This means that gut bacteria actually gets enough time to work on the food consumed, and absorb nutrients from it.
Acquiring stress may not be in our hands, but it brings excessive levels of cortisol (stress hormone) with it. High levels of cortisol in the body can lead to high blood pressure, rapid weight gain, skin changes, and more. Keeping your calm in stressful situations can work in favour of your health.
If you are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease, antibiotics may be your friends. Antibiotics are known to subside the effect of bad gut bacteria, prevent bacterial infection in intestinal lining and help in reducing inflammation which makes it effective as a treatment. However, antibiotics should be taken only after consultations from your doctor to prevent any side effects.
What foods repair the gut microbiome?
Though there is no set gut microbiome diet, avoiding food with sugar and additives can be your stepping stone to better gut health. This can be followed by including prebiotics and fibre-rich foods such as almonds and chickpeas in your diet. Moreover, items such as yoghurts and fermented vegetables can be a great source of probiotics. Probiotics have many positive effects on our gut.