Improving gut health

The Gut Microbiome, has been called the most important scientific discovery for human healthcare in recent decades. It is slated to hold answers to an immense spectrum of health issues, from digestive disorders to depression, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune conditions and even appetite. Improving your gut health could hold answers to several of your health-related questions.

The gut microbiome, in the simplest terms, refers to the immense colony of microorganisms that live in the gut. These are made up of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Although the term ‘gut’ refers to the microbiome that lives in your intestines, our entire bodies are made up of these organisms. However, the gut hosts the largest majority of these organisms. It is colonized by around 100 trillion bacteria cells, and it can weigh up to two kilograms.

Some researchers go on to say that there are as many microorganisms in our bodies as there are cells. So our own cells are almost outnumbered by these external, living microorganisms. In other words, we are in fact half human and half microbe!

Scientific interest in the microbiome accelerated around 15 years ago with the beginning of metagenomics - which is studying communities of microorganisms without having to isolate each one separately. Scientists today recognize how little they actually know about how the microbiome works. However, inroads are being made rapidly and the gut microbiome is now linked to a host of chronic and autoimmune health conditions. Most recently, research into the gut-brain connection found that gut bacteria even have an influence on personality traits such as neuroticism and conscientiousness.

More than ever, the evidence points to the fact that we live in an intimate symbiotic relationship with our microbiome. What is clear today, is that better gut health and understanding how the gut microbiome works could hold the key to better prevention and treatment of several chronic conditions, autoimmune conditions and can even influence mental well-being.

What is a healthy gut?

Most scientists agree that diversity is the most important feature of a healthy gut. The ideal microbiome has a balance of different kinds of bacteria, without any one dominant type. When any one type of organism dominates, it creates problems in the body (dysbiosis). This imbalance could manifest through digestive issues, weight changes, allergies, and tiredness among others.

How does gut health affect women?

Women, in general, tend to suffer from various kinds of discomfort, which are very often unaddressed, often because they are not intense enough and tend to be ignored, or we tell ourselves that we can live with it. However, many such ‘vague’ yet constant pains reported by many women could be related to their gut health. For example, some of the most common signs of an unhealthy gut or an imbalanced gut microbiota are digestive issues and generalized fatigue.