December 05, 2021
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In recent years, you may have heard digestive experts talk about the “gut-brain connection” or your “gut health,” but what’s all the fuss about? Emerging research is shedding light on the inner workings of the gastrointestinal tract, called the gut microbiome, and how it can affect your whole body – in ways that may not seem connected at all.
The gut microbiome includes bacteria, microorganisms, fungi, and viruses that are present in the gastrointestinal tract. “It plays a role in absorption of key nutrients and minerals,” says Jaquel Patterson, ND, MBA, a naturopathic doctor and medical director of Fairfield Family Health in Connecticut. “The gut microbiome also plays a key role in good health – and in disease progression.”
How the gut microbiome affects the body
Although it might seem that gut health would mainly impact digestion, scientists are discovering that the gut microbiome can actually affect your overall health. “Your body needs a diversity of gut bacteria and evolves as you age,” Dr. Patterson explains. “The greater the diversity that exists in the gut microbiome, the better it is for your health.”
When you have an imbalance of gut microbes, this can lead to what’s known as dysbiosis. “Dysbiosis has been connected with conditions like obesity, due to not having a healthy microbiome and poor gut health,” Patterson says.
In addition, dysbiosis may contribute to conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, and colon cancer, according to a scientific review published in August 2018 in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.
Changes in the gut microbiome have also been noted in diabetes, liver disease, and even neurodegenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis, according to a review published in June 2018 in the journal Gut.
In addition, studies have shown a link between heart health and the gut. “Some gut microbiome produce a chemical called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), which blocks arteries,” Patterson says. High levels of TMAO are associated with a higher risk of heart disease and early death, according to a June 2018 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Some experts believe that problems with the gut barrier can also lead to what is known as “leaky gut,” which increases the ability of unwanted microbes to enter the body. “This may lead to inflammation throughout the body and cause the immune system to respond and become altered as a result,” says Patterson.
The gut – brain connection
Research has also found some surprising potential links between imbalances in the gut microbiome and mental health issues. This is because the gut is connected to nerves and is involved with messaging back and forth with the brain. “Many neurotransmitters, like serotonin, are made in the gut,” Patterson explains. Serotonin produces feelings of happiness and well-being, and serotonin levels tend to be low in people who experience depression and anxiety.
“Numerous psychological disorders have been connected with specific species in the gut, demonstrating that specific probiotics may help to support this dysfunction,” Patterson says. A review of studies published in May 2019 in the journal General Psychiatry suggested that people with anxiety who changed their diet to regulate the gut microbiome experienced an improvement in anxiety symptoms.
Tips to keep your gut balanced
Maintaining a well-functioning gut is clearly important. The good news? There are many simple ways to accomplish this:
“Fermented foods help to form a good microbiome; for example, yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir,” suggests Patterson. Kombucha is another beverage choice that’s rich in good-for-your-gut bacteria. In addition, teas like ginger, chamomile, and peppermint can also help to aid the gastrointestinal system.
Alcohol, caffeine, fried foods, and carbonated beverages can aggravate your gut microbiome, according to Patterson.
If you’re looking to support a specific aspect of your health, probiotic supplements can be used to help rebalance the gastrointestinal system. “The most common strains include lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and saccharomyces, which have been shown to help regulate the immune response,” says Patterson. Some other supplements known to support gut health include l-glutamine and zinc carnosine, Patterson adds.
Eating plenty of fiber and drinking enough water every day can also help support your gastrointestinal system. Fiber-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. To stay hydrated, aim to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day.
While there’s still much for researchers to learn, it’s clear that a healthy gut microbiome can benefit not just your digestion but your overall physical and emotional health, as well.
Source: EVERYDAY HEALTH
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Theo tuổi tác, hệ miễn dịch của chúng ta trở nên kém hiệu quả hơn trong việc đối phó với các tình trạng nhiễm trùng cũng như kém đáp ứng với việc chủng ngừa. Đồng thời, hệ miễn dịch lão hóa có mối liên hệ với tình trạng viêm mạn tính, từ đó làm tăng
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