Did you know that your gut bacteria is just like your fingerprint? Your fingerprint is unique and nobody else on the planet has the identical one. The gut bacteria “mix” is just like that as well. The combination of the bacteria your body hosts to function properly is your own “brew” and there’s no other like it. There can be up to 500 different kinds of gut bacteria. A gut contains healthy gut bacteria and immune cells that ward off infectious agents like bad bacteria, viruses, and fungi. So, why do you need to improve your gut health?
The role of gut bacteria is to line your entire digestive system, balance your metabolism, help regulate your mood, and what’s most important – be the foundation of your immune system.
That is why these 4 are the most important reasons to keep good care of your gut bacteria.
1. Gut Health Influences Your Immune System
The gut bacteria that live in your gastrointestinal tract provide health benefits to your body by regulating the immune system. There are many scientists dealing with this issue, trying to explain the way your gut bacteria influences your immunity. Scientists Hsin-Jung Wu and Eric Wu from the University of Arizona wrote an interesting piece about “The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity.”
In the article, they say that:
“The immune system plays a vital role in keeping the body healthy by providing a fine balance between the elimination of invading pathogens and the maintenance of tolerance to healthy self-tissue.”(Hsin-Jung Wu, Eric Wu)
However, it is not just that imbalanced gut bacteria can cause your immune system to stop being active. Moreover, it can become overactive. Gut bacteria can cause poor immunity regulation that can actually create an overly active response, causing your body to attack and destroy healthy tissue. This is the mechanism behind autoimmune disorders.
2. Brain Function Partly Depends on Your Gut Health
The gut-brain axis or a communication system between your gut and brain has been the focus of many scientists recently. The enteric nervous system (ENS) or a “gut-brain axis” works using more than 100 million nerve cells. This is how irritation in the gastrointestinal system affects mood changes – by sending signals to the central nervous system.
This is especially evident in people who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The “Gut-brain” can trigger emotional shifts in people suffering from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and functional problems with bowels like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, pain, and an upset stomach. Here’s what Jay Pasricha, M.D. says about it for the Joan Hopkins Medicine.
“For decades, researchers and doctors thought that anxiety and depression contributed to these problems. But our studies and others show that it may also be the other way around. These new findings may explain why a higher-than-normal percentage of people with IBS and functional bowel problems develop depression and anxiety. That’s important because up to 30 to 40 percent of the population has functional bowel problems at some point.”Jay Pasricha,
3. Healthy Gut Can Reduce Symptoms of Dementia
Dementia is a clinical syndrome with chronic or progressive nature that decreases cognitive functions and causes forgetfulness, memory deterioration, loss of sense of direction, confusion, and difficulty with personal care. The clinical image of dementia differentiates significantly among individuals.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common neurodegenerative disorder and the leading cause of dementia worldwide is accounting for approximately 60%–70% of all cases (WHO Dementia Statistics Details, 2020).
Research from 2016 states that patients with cognitive diseases (such as multiple sclerosis) have a different microbiome than those who don’t have similar conditions.
A disrupted microbiome does contribute to the development of cognitive diseases by negatively affecting the gut-brain axis. However, the initial cause of microbiome disruption in patients with neurological conditions is almost inevitable but not yet fully discovered.
The good thing is – the gut microbiome can recover. Proper diet, taking care of stressful situations, reduced use of alcohol and tobacco, taking care of your body, using probiotics, and drinking plenty of water can play a role in recovering the gut microbiome’s health.
Even more, the recent research demonstrated that red light therapy delivered to the abdomen could alter the gut microbiome positively.
4. Dysbiosis Leads to Uncontrolled Weight Gain
Uncontrolled weight gain is the most frequent nutritional disorder. Recent experimental and clinical trials are focused on understanding how dysbiosis causes immune and metabolic diseases.
Although there is a reasonable doubt that a damaged gut often results in obesity, the impact of diet-independent obesity on the gut microbiome on intestinal tissues is not yet finalized.
What Will Naturally Improve Gut Health?
When it comes to managing bacteria, antibiotics come to mind. However, their main function is to eliminate bacteria and in the process, the balance of your microbiota can actually be ruined. That is why it is important never to try and treat anything with antibiotics unless a doctor prescribes them.
But, what CAN you do to restore your gut health? There are some systemic life changes you can make, to make your gut healthier and your life happier in the process.
Probiotics have the power to restore the composition of the gut microbiome. In addition, they affect the functions of gut microbiota, resulting in the prevention of gut inflammation and other intestinal or systemic diseases.
Diet rich in fibers
2017 study states that diets rich in fibers have a positive impact on gut microbes. A proper diet, rich in fibers, literally feeds and makes gut bacteria thrive. Conversely, increased consumption of processed foods lacking fiber will hurt the microbiota balance and increase chronic inflammatory diseases.
Stress can affect gut health because it significantly impacts digestion – the process and the quality of absorbing the nutrients. The intestines have a tight barrier to protect the body from harmful bacteria. Stress can weaken the intestinal barrier, allow gut bacteria to enter the body, and cause autoimmune attacks.
Careful use of medications
Antibiotics can have severe effects on the gut microbiota. But, antibiotics are not the only medication type that influences the gut microbiome. Non-antibiotic drugs can also change the gut microbiome and lead to damage to gut health.
Exercising regularly and leading an active life
If you need yet another reason to get into your gym clothes or grab those running shoes – this is it.
“Recent studies suggest that exercise can enhance the number of beneficial microbial species, enrich the microflora diversity, and improve the development of commensal bacteria. All these effects are beneficial for the host, improving its health status.”(Group of authors)
Red light therapy
Red light therapy has countless benefits because it’s a natural form of treatment, using one of the most fundamental forms of energy – light.
Since the Nobel Prize-winning work of Niels Finsen, the effects of red light therapy have been well documented in thousands of peer-reviewed studies. Red light, in specific wavelengths, is proven to interact with the body in beneficial ways.
It enhances your immune system, and what’s most important – red light therapy has many benefits on the gut-brain axis because it affects the well-being of the good gut bacteria.
Getting enough sleep
An unhealthy gut can be a reason for sleep disorders. The theory behind this is that most of the body’s serotonin (one of the hormones that affect your sleep-wake cycle) is produced in the gut. Therefore, damaged gut bacteria can affect your ability to have a decent sleep.
Another hormone that affects your sleep is melatonin. Red light therapy has been proven to improve melatonin secretion and improve sleep. Besides that, it can boost other efforts to improve gut health. Red and near infrared light can help get better effects from your diet, boost the effectiveness of your exercise, and even reduce stress.
That being said, one of the easiest ways to enjoy red light therapy at home is to use a portable red light therapy device – FlexBeam. It’s easy to use, store, and carry with you wherever you go. It makes for the perfect start to your efforts to improve your gut health.