Gut bacteria will make or break you
BY FITZ-GEORGE RATTRAY
IF you are thinking about weight loss, managing depression, heart health, managing of diabetes and so much more, it is incredibly important that you understand the relationship with your gut bacteria/microbiome/flora and your health, weight and mood.
We have been introduced to bacteria as bad things, but that is not even half the truth. For our purposes there are harmful and beneficial bacteria. They can do anything from protecting us from harmful bacteria and fungi to keeping us in balance and assisting with the digestive processes and more.
There are large colonies of bacteria living inside your gastrointestinal tract. These are our gut bacteria formally called gut flora. We host roughly 100 trillion microbes within our bodies. This number is so large, in fact, that cell for cell we are actually made of more bacterial cells than our own human cells to a ratio of 1.3 bacterial cells to 1 human cell.
Your bacteria and you
These massive colonies of bacteria living inside of us are so important that they have developed a symbiotic relationship with us. Your gut microbiome is fed by you, and in return assists in our digestive processes. This relationship is so integral that the bacteria can be imagined as citizens living in a city and the brain as the mayor's office. Your gut bacteria has developed a system of communication with your brain. This communication is so severe that many scientists are referring to our gut microbiome as a second brain. They release hormones and metabolic by-products, which our bodies respond to, as if they were being secreted by our own organs. This communication is used by our good bacteria to influence our desire for healthy foods.
Unfortunately, when the bad bacteria grow sufficiently, they overpower the good bacteria and make demands which will damage the city severely, asking the “mayor” for more sugar and flour and excessive calories. Researchers are now considering the microbiome as a powerful endocrine (hormone producing) organ considering when it comes to reactions and changes hormones rule.
Your gut microbiome secretes hormones and chemical by-products which have been proven to positively affect many of our processes including the following:
What does your gut microbiome do for you?
• Enhances the absorption of vitamins and minerals;
• Has anti-diabetic effect;
• Lowers the risk of coronary illnesses;
• Increases resistance to pathogens (infections);
• Promotes regular bowel movement;
• Reduces the risk of colon cancer;
• Acts as an anti-inflammatory agent;
• Has a correlation with reduced depression and perhaps other adverse mental states —
Poop transplant, how could this be so important?
The list seems extreme but, amazingly, it is accurate, so accurate in fact that researchers are using the gut microbiome balances as a predictor for specific illnesses.
The gut microbiome is so severely important, that a procedure known loosely as poop transplants have been growing in popularity and success in treating an increasing list of conditions.
One early observation of the effect of gut microbiome was made when a mother who had been slim all her life had severely damaged microbiome after a round of antibiotics. As treatment, she received a poop transplant from her overweight daughter and the mother very rapidly began to gain weight, and further studies attributed this change to her gut microbiome.
In more recent years this treatment has been refined and people with ideal gut health profiles are being paid to give stool for treatment and implanting in needy recipients.
This is the how important our microbiome is to our well-being. But how can you manage and help your life by helping your good gut bacteria?
What helps gut bacteria (what to have in your diet?)
Prebiotics: Natural non-digestible foods which feed our microbiome, allowing growth and healthy diversity. These include oats, roots, seeds, wheat, asparagus, lentils, bananas, garlic, certain other fruits, and more.
Probiotics: These are the good bacteria naturally found in foods which augment and assist our gut's good bacteria. These include, yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, miso, kombucha, real pickles, and more.
What hurts our gut bacteria (what to avoid)
So now we know what will take care of our microbiome — add diverse whole foods, fruit, vegetables and grains and we are all good. But what will do it damage? Firstly, lifestyle issues such as the lack of physical activity, unmanaged stress or insufficient sleep; and secondly, what you choose to put into your body can damage the microbiome each time you have the following:
• Any food from the flesh of antibiotic-fed animals, Insufficient prebiotics;
• Spirits, it does not matter how little;
• Antibiotic use — yes, they save millions, but sadly antibiotics do not discriminate between good and bad bacteria;
• Cigarette smoke;
• Flour and other refined carbohydrates;
• Artificial sweeteners.
There is a mountain of evidence for the importance of our second brain which cannot be ignored. It may be the reality behind why one person can stay so slim and eat the same as their obese friend or family member, or why one person's craving is so much more powerful than another's craving considering how similar our metabolisms are, yet how varied our use of energy is. ITK pays very close attention to the increase in gut microbiome research. If you care about your wellness you should pay attention to your microbiome and its needs.
Fitz-George Rattray is the director of Intekai Academy, which is focused on helping people live a healthy lifestyle through nutrition and weight management. If you are interested in losing weight or living a healthier lifestyle, give them a call at 968-8238, or visit their website at intekaiacademy.org .