Ewwww. Who wants to talk about their guts, right? As it turns out though, what is in your gut is very important to your overall health.
So, what is in your gut?
There are lots of little bacteria, called intestinal microflora, living in our intestines. When the balance is right, everybody is happy and everything runs smoothly. But if something upsets the balance, like taking an antibiotic for instance. There ends up being a big fight down there and you end up with an angry gut!
Ordinarily you wouldn’t care if your gut was angry; but unfortunately the anger boils over and presents itself as very unpleasant symptoms like gas, bloating, pain, inflammation, and constipation or diarrhea. That gets our attention, to our dismay.
According to an article called “Bacteria in the Intestine, Helpful Residents or Enemies from Within?” written by Geraldine O. Canny and Beth A. McCormick, as found on American Society for Microbiology site at this location: http://iai.asm.org/content/76/8/3360.full
“An absence of intestinal bacteria is associated with reductions in mucosal cell turnover, vascularity, muscle wall thickness, motility, baseline cytokine production, and digestive enzyme activity and with defective cell-mediated immunity. Furthermore, the intestinal microflora makes important metabolic contributions to vitamin K, folate, and short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, a major energy source for enterocytes, and also mediates the breakdown of dietary carcinogens.”
And also, the following is about the number of bacteria in our gut from the same article:
“The large intestine contains organisms belonging to over 30 identified genera and as many as 500 separate species or phenotypes. The main types of bacteria in the colon are obligate anaerobes, and the most abundant bacteria are members of the genus Bacteroides, anaerobic gram-positive cocci, such as Peptostreptococcus sp., Eubacterium sp., Lactobacillus sp., and Clostridium sp. More recent studies of large bowel biopsies confirmed that Bacteroides was a dominant genus in the specimens examined.”
For more information; please visit this link: http://iai.asm.org/content/76/8/3360.full
We all have bacteria in our guts. From the above paragraph, it looks like we have many different strains of bacteria living in our digestive systems.
I like to think that the intestinal flora act as little soldiers who keep the pathogens from invading and colonizing in our gut to cause malfunction and disease. Each of these soldiers has their own position to maintain.
There are guards who keep watch and signal the immune system that invaders are present, when a pathogen tries to breach the mucosa of our intestines. Their signal brings our little soldiers running to the rescue, ready for battle.
There are the soldiers in charge of defending invasion by pathogens. Still others keep the balance by competing and consuming available nutrients, so that there is not an overproduction of those nutrients, which would support the unwanted invasion by the pathogens.
Then there is the task presented to the microflora colonies of fermenting the non-digestible carbohydrates. This causes the generation of short chain fatty acids.
These short chain fatty acids are: Acetate, Proprionate and Butyrate. They play a large role in gut immunity. They are the good guys. You want to make sure you are promoting them by eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, cheese, sourdough bread, apple cider vinegar, buttermilk, etc.
All of these individual bacteria must interact and compete with each other for nutrients, etc. While they all have their own job to do; they also need each other. And problems come about when there is an overgrowth of one of these bacteria; which upsets the balance. For instance, an overgrowth of yeast resulting after taking antibiotics.
Now entering into this drama are probiotics. Probiotics are microorganisms that are believed to provide health benefits when consumed. Doctors often prescribe these when we take antibiotics to replenish the beneficial microflora to prevent an overgrowth of yeast.
Inflammation can occur because of many different factors; and it is not completely understood how the bacteria in our gut play a part in the inflammation in our bodies.
While the bacteria are necessary for immunity; it is also clear that they can cause inflammation. They can either deter inflammation or make a pathway for it’s occurrence. It is an excepted belief, however, that keeping the bacteria in our gut in a healthy balance is paramount to overall health. Eating healthy and getting regular exercise can help.
Many doctors think that taking a broad spectrum probiotic may also help to keep our good bacteria in balance. There are many on the market. Here are a couple I found on Amazon.
Another way of helping to keep our gut healthy is by the introduction of anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal substances such as coconut oil. There are many uses for coconut oil; and a healthy gut is just one of them. You can check out my post “Coconut Oil Uses for Health and Beauty” here:
This is the coconut oil that I use.
Apple cider vinegar is another substance that is said to aid in our digestive health and have many other beneficial effects on our bodies. To read more, check out my post:
And my review:
Here is some Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar for sale on Amazon, if you are interested.
Fresh is Best!
It’s very important to realize that highly processed foods are hard to digest and are not conducive to a healthy gut. It is better to stick to vegetables, fruits, berries, and meats that are cooked at home or served fresh. We know when we prepare healthy food at home; all the chemicals and additives will not be in there to mess with our gut.
What’s in your gut?
Are you mindful of what you are putting in to your body? Do you read labels on processed foods? Are you consuming some fermented foods for production of short chain fatty acids? Are you consuming enough fiber? Are you limiting the amount of sugar you are taking in? Are you including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet? If you have problems, have you considered taking a probiotic to help with the balance of microflora in your gut?
I hope this post has helped you become more aware of what you put in to your body; how to keep your digestive system healthier, and how gut health has an effect on our overall health and well being.
Your thoughts on this subject are very much appreciated. Please use the comment section below for your contribution or questions.
Please come back again. My door is always open and I love company!
At your service,