Does Your Overall Well-Being Depend On Your Gut Health?

If you’ve been a regular follower of health and fitness-related literature, you might have stumbled upon the term “gut health,” and have tried to understand what exactly it means. For the uninitiated, a “healthy gut” consists of a healthy gastrointestinal (GI) tract, balanced microbiota or gut flora, good immunity, and an absence of GI infections.

If we go by what recent reports have to say, your gut health might be the root of your overall sense of well-being. Ayurveda, in fact, believes that all disease begins in your gut. So, what exactly does your gut do and why is it important for your well-being?

1. Maintains Gastrointestinal Health

Your gut maintains digestive health.

One of the most important functions of your gut is to promote gastrointestinal health. While your gut is responsible for food processing and consequent nutrient and fluid uptake, its function is not limited to this. Studies suggest that the bacterial ecosystem in your gut plays a major role in maintaining overall gastrointestinal function and reducing the incidence of gastrointestinal disorders, such as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, anal fissures, perianal abscesses, anal fistulas, perianal infections, diverticular diseases, colitis, colon polyps, and even cancer.1 2

2.
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Supports Your Metabolic Process

Your gut supports metabolism.

Recent studies have explored the role of gut bacteria in your metabolic process. By affecting the energy uptake from the food you eat, gut bacteria regulate metabolism. If your gut bacteria is imbalanced or is contains an increased number of unhealthy bacteria, your metabolism could suffer. A poor metabolism is indicative of weight gain, obesity, and an increased risk of heart disease.3 4

3. Regulates Your Immune System

Your gut affects immunity.

Experts believe that a significant proportion of your immune system activity happens within your gut. In fact, your gut forms the body’s most important line of defence against infections. The epithelial cells in your intestinal lining secrete antibodies, which fight toxic, foreign bodies, into your blood. The microbes in your gut are involved in the regulation of the antibodies’ production. Interestingly, this means that your immune function, which controls microbes, is controlled by the microbes themselves.5

Furthermore, there is evidence to support that an unhealthy equation between the microbiome, the immune system, and epithelial cells could cause inflammation and colon cancer. One study examines the link between immunity and imbalanced gut flora by proving that tuberculosis – an illness that affects the lungs – causes changes in the structure and growth of the microbes, which are present in the gut.6

4. Triggers Inflammation

Unhealthy gut can cause chronic inflammation.

Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury. While a localized inflammation to heal an injury is a good thing, chronic inflammation is not. Your gut, which contains good and bad bacteria, is responsible for both types of inflammation. When the number of beneficial gut microbes is less, it results in dysbiosis or a microbial imbalance within the intestine. Dysbiosis leads to chronic inflammation, resulting in conditions like irritable bowel disorders, multiple sclerosis, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis. 7 8

5.
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Aids Brain Function And Affects Your Mood

A healthy gut enhances brain function.

There’s a reason why people ask you to listen to your “gut” feeling. The gut microbiota acts as a communication agent and passes information to your brain. This helps you figure out whether you’re hungry or full and whether you’re eating at an optimum pace. Additionally, your gut is also responsible for your stress level. If your gut is healthy, it sends signals to your brain and helps in the recognition and removal of any stressor. By producing over 90% of the serotonin, your body’s feel-good hormone, the gut also helps regulate your mood.9

The gut flora in your intestine also influence the neurochemical reactions and changes that occur in the brain. One study pointed out that your an unhealthy gut could cause memory disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s.10

Now

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that you’ve understood why intestinal microbiota is important, you can take a few measures to promote your gut health. Eating probiotics like cultured dairy products and fermented soy products, opting for fibrous foods like legumes and whole grains, reducing your sugar intake, and getting enough sleep are some ways to support the growth of healthy bacteria and enhance your well-being.

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