‘Every day we live and every meal we eat, we influence our gut- for better or for worse’
The Human Gastrointestinal Microbiota, also known as the human gut, are the microorganisms that live in our digestive tracts. It has the largest number of bacteria as compared to other areas of the body. The relationship between gut flora and humans is very mutualistic. The micro-organisms in the gut perform a number of important functions such as fermenting, training the immune system with end products of metabolism, preventing the growth of harmful bacteria, production of vitamins for the host along with production of hormones to direct the host to store fats.
The gut plays a very significant role in our bodies. An unhealthy gut invites a wide range of health issues like obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, depression and other neurological disorders, autoimmune disorders and chronic fatigue syndrome, etc.
1. Diarrhoea/ Gas/ Bloating/ Malabsorption: These are symptoms of poor gut health. Gas, in particular, is a starting sign that some food is fermenting in the gut which could be due to an imbalance of bacteria. There are certain foods that can cause more gas formation and which varies from person to person, but when it happens frequently and on an everyday basis the root cause could be the imbalance of bacteria in the large intestine which is responsible for the breakdown of undigested food.
2. IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome): It is a result of various interactions between genetic and environmental factors. Besides the impact of diet, research has noted the role of immune-mediated factors, especially the effect of an infection on the gut microbiota (e.g. post-infectious IBS) as well as intestinal dysbiosis (e.g. small intestinal bacterial overgrowth [SIBO]). The gut microbiota appears to play an important role in IBS, as quantitative and qualitative differences have been observed in patients with IBS compared with healthy individuals.
3. Anxiety and Depression: Serotonin and Dopamine are chemical neurotransmitters or happy hormones that get compromised in being used by our system if our gut is not functioning properly. The majority of these hormones are made in the gut. If one suffers from any gut issues then the body will lose these hormones that it produces. Inner workings of our digestive system guide our emotions too apart from digesting food.
4. Obesity: Irregular eating habits or low consumption of water and high-fat diet affects gut leads to unintentional weight gain. Obesity is the common ground of most metabolic diseases. The gut microbiota plays critical roles in the development of obesity and obesity-related metabolic diseases by producing microbial metabolites like short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that regulate host energy harvest.
5. Food Intolerance: Due to leaky gut a person can develop certain food intolerance for gluten and dairy. It occurs due to the poor quality of bacteria in the gut. The leaky gut syndrome refers to the intestine becoming permeable, because of this issue large protein molecules escape into the bloodstream directly and because these molecules do not belong outside the gut, the body builds an immune response and attacks them. These responses show as food intolerance.
Throughout life, healthier the microbiota the less diseased life we can lead. In several studies, gut microbiota represents a changing ecosystem that is severely tested by many factors such as an unbalanced diet, stress, antibiotic use, or diseases. A healthy host–microorganism balance must be maintained in order to perform healthy metabolic and immune functions and prevent disease development.