Understanding The Importance Of A Healthy Gut
Your gut is linked with your overall health in more ways than one. Read here as expert explains the different ways your gut health is associated with your overall health.
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'All disease begins in gut' a famous quote made by the ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates 2500 years ago has widely been appreciated by the scientific community. In addition to being the centre for food digestion and nutrients assimilation, gut harbours and orchestrates many critical biological functions. Gut mucosal immune system comprises of 75% of the human immune system. Additionally, there are 100 million neurons located in the small intestine making the gut nervous system as the largest centre of neurons outside the brain.
Human gut also harbours largest collection of microorganisms in the body. Amongst them are the gut microbiome, which has tremendous impacts on the health of our entire body. Science is increasingly coming to understand that critical role of gut microbiota in maintaining human health. The gut bacteria can impact your health in many different ways, here are some of these.
The link between gut health and overall health
1. Digestive health
Our gut comprises of different forms of 'good bacteria' that helps in digestion, breaking of complex nutrients and its absorption. If the bacterial ecosystem undergoes an imbalance it impacts the intestine directly and develops gastrointestinal complications including irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease.
2. Obesity, weight gain and diabetes
The gut bacteria play a crucial role in the body's overall metabolism. With years of research it has proven that an imbalance of the gut bacteria increases the risk of diabetes and obesity.
3. Brain health
Our brain and the gut are interconnected with each other. The brain and the gut exchange signals to one another. An unhealthy gut can also lead to anxiety, depression, or stress. People often feel sick in their stomach upon hearing bad news is for the same reason and vice versa ones moods and behaviours change if they have an upset gut.
4. Heart health
You might not know but the heart too is governed by the health of the gut microbiome. Researchers have found that foods like eggs and red meat, certain types of gut bacteria convert choline into trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO, for short). Unfortunately, elevated levels of TMAO can contribute to a higher risk of stroke, blood clots, and other conditions.
5. The immune system
Our gut acts as the centralised communication system that activates the cells of the immune system when infected by outside viruses and bacteria. It's applicable for age groups from an infant to an older individual. Researchers also believe a healthy infant gut microbiota has the ability to protect against health conditions like obesity and diabetes later in life.
A whole new approach to study the human microbiome is opening a new frontier to understanding how tiny bacteria residing in our gut affect health. Each of us harbours a gut microbiome as unique as our genome and the gut microbiota are amenable to change and much more easily altered than the DNA of our genome.
Our changed lifestyle and food habits, excessive usage of antibiotics is affecting our gut microbiota. The recent developments of the on-going pandemic have forced us all to re-look at our overall health and bring about changes to build a stronger and healthier body that will withstand the physical and mental impact of the situation.
(Dr Ashok Dubey, Senior Scientist- Nutrition & Biosciences, Tata Chemicals Ltd.)
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