Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria along with yeast and viruses that live amongst this bacteria. Collectively, these microorganisms are called your gut microbiota. Their collective genes make up the Gut Microbiome. The “gut microbiome” refers to the trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms in our digestive system. Each individual has a unique microbiome, with the diversity and abundance of gut flora within this influencing our general health.
Scientists have discovered that the trillions of bacteria in our gastrointestinal (GI) tract don’t just process food. These bacteria help our body to maintain its equilibrium and achieve optimal well-being. When your gut is healthy, the rest of your body often hums along happily. That's because your gut influences everything from your digestion to your brain to your immune system.
But what does it mean to have good gut health?
Good gut health is defined as the effective digestion and absorption of food, the absence of GI illness, normal and stable intestinal microbiota, effective immune status and a good state of well-being. But in recent years, we have discovered that the GI system has an even bigger, more complex job than previously appreciated. It’s linked to numerous aspects of health such as immunity, emotional stress, and chronic illnesses.
This highlights the importance of taking care of your gut health. Everyone’s microbiome is unique, but there are a few generalities about what’s healthy and what’s not. Food is ultimately broken down in the gut to a simple form that can enter the bloodstream and be delivered as nutrients throughout our body. This is only possible with a healthy digestive system. A healthy gut contains healthy bacteria and immune cells that ward off infectious agents like bacteria, viruses and fungi. A healthy gut also communicates with the brain through nerves and hormones, which helps maintain health and well-being.
So why should you take care of your Gut Health?
- There’s a strong connection between gut bacteria and the Immune System
- The Gut Microbiome may affect mental health
- Any changes in gut health may increase the risk of certain diseases
A nutritious and balanced diet including plenty of fiber, low sugar, fermented foods, ingestion of prebiotics and probiotics from food sources, combined with low stress levels, moderate exercise, good sleep, and healthy lifestyle choices contributes to good gut health.