The Importance of Gut Health
The microbiome – a collective term for the trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi found throughout our bodies. While some of these are responsible for disease, many more are vital to the proper functioning of our brain, immune system, heart, weight, digestion, and more. A large portion of these exists in our intestines, specifically in a “pocket” in the large intestine called the cecum. This “pocket” is referred to as the gut microbiome and includes over 2,000 different species of bacteria alone.
Many are surprised to know that the human body is made up of approximately 40 trillion bacterial cells, but only 30 trillion human cells! These 40 trillion bacteria weigh as much as your brain (2-5 pounds) and essentially function as an extra organ of the body by aiding in numerous bodily functions. Your gut microbiome is an integral part of your health, and without it, it would be difficult to survive.
If this integral system of microbes is out of balance, digestive disorders can ensue. Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), celiac disease, C. difficile infection, leaky gut syndrome, and even cancer are related to overgrowth of harmful microbes or underproduction of good bacteria.
While a common practice in the past was to treat the bad bacteria with antibiotics, research has found that the overuse of antibiotics is actually more harmful to gut health because it adds to the imbalance of good and bad bacteria. Unfortunately, antibiotics aren’t smart enough to know what’s good bacteria and what’s harmful, so it eliminates both, leading to an upheaval in your large intestine and throughout your body.
Instead, we believe that encouraging good bacteria to grow and creating a healthy environment for them to thrive is the best solution to treating digestive disorders. Options that have been shown to improve gut health include:
- Consuming probiotics and prebiotic-rich foods
- Eating more fermented foods
- Limiting sugar and artificial sweeteners
- Eating whole grains
- Consuming a plant-centered diet
- Eating foods rich in polyphenols
- Limiting the use of disinfectant cleaning products
- Reducing stress
- Exercising regularly
- Getting enough sleep
In addition to all the ways we mentioned above that gut health can affect your body, it can also impact the development of food allergies. In healthy infants, the presence of adequate good bacteria actually prevents the development of food allergies, and certain bacteria offer a protective effect against potential allergic reactions to food.
You may notice that it seems people experience food allergies in both increased frequency and severity more than ever before. Part of the underlying cause is gut health. Although researchers haven’t pinpointed exactly why this relationship exists, they do know that modern diets and lifestyles have significantly impacted our gut microbiome, and it, in turn, has affected how our bodies respond to certain foods.
Nearly 90% of all food allergies come from eight foods:
- Tree nuts
While many allergies that presented themselves in childhood were generally outgrown by the age of 5, they are persisting into adulthood at rates and severities never before seen.
At Transform Your Health, we want to help you get and keep your gut microbiome healthy. We believe that modern changes in the number of processed foods we eat, the levels of antibiotics we’re exposed to, and rising levels of sleeplessness, sedentary lifestyles, and stress are all contributing to poor gut health. If you are suffering from digestive disorders, leaky gut, food allergies, or would like to know more about how to improve your gut health, please give our office a call at (813) 810-1688 (Brandon Office) or (727) 786-1661 (Tarpon Springs Office). We’d love to help you on your journey to a more healthy body, mind, and gut!