Have you ever heard that your gut is your second brain? Scientists are linking our overall health including digestive, mental, and physical health to our gut or more specifically, our microbiome. The microbiome is the genetic material of all the microbes – bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses – that live on and inside the human body. The number of genes in all the microbes in one person’s microbiome is 200 times the number of genes in the human genome.
Digestive system problems such as heartburn, gas, bloating and constipation, and diarrhea reflect what’s happening throughout your body. The main drivers of gut health change are shifts in stomach acid, gut immunity, and gastrointestinal flora—the complex ecosystem of bacteria in your digestive system and microbiome. Our microbiome
1. Protects us against germs
2. Breaks down food to release energy
3. Produces vitamins
4. Produces precursors to neurotransmitters and hormones.
When gut health is good, your physical and mental health tend to follow. When gut health is poor it can lead to anxiety, depression, and weight gain.
It used to be thought that mental health disorders are a chemical imbalance in the brain or disease brought on by genetics, traumatic experience, or hereditary. In certain cases, this may be true however numerous studies have shown a strong link between an unhealthy gut and an increase in anxiety & depression.
This is associated with different profiles of gut health with the primary one researched being the ration of firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. Firmicutes are shown to be a type of bacteria that is efficient at extracting calories from food. Thus if we are eating more then these “fat bugs” are helping us absorb more of those calories than we would if our gut was in balance.