The importance of a healthy gut

Our intestines are filled with a fast amount of different bacteria; this is referred to as the gut microbiota. These bacteria create substances that get into the bloodstream and affect our body chemistry. More and more studies have been conducted in recent years to investigate the potential health benefits of these bacteria. Among those benefits is weight loss.

When we consume food, our gut starts to break down what we intake. The smallest broken down pieces are absorbed into our blood, adding to our caloric intake and increasing our weight. The remaining food that isn’t absorbed is eliminated as waste. Certain bacteria are more successful in breaking down food into these smaller pieces, meaning someone with more of this gut bacteria may have a harder time losing weight. Harvard Medical School reported several studies that transferred gut bacteria to different subjects and found strong ties between gut bacteria and obesity.

As the world of gut microbiota is slowly being delved into, scientific studies have revealed serious ties between gut health and rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, the immune system, and even cancer. 

    • A study published by Genome Medicine reported, “Patients with RA exhibited decreased gut microbial diversity compared with controls, which correlated with disease duration and autoantibody levels.” 
    • A study published by PLOS ONE showed that a particular strain of bacterium (Lactobacillus johnsonii) may protect against certain cancers. 
    • Journal of Applied Microbiology found that Akkermansia muciniphila (a bacterial strain) can help prevent inflammation that leads to fatty plaque buildup in arteries by allowing fewer toxins (from poor diet) into the bloodstream.
    • While studying mice with melanoma, researchers from the University of Chicago discovered a bacterial strain that caused their immune systems to start attack tumor cells.

So if you’re wondering how to make sure you get plenty of good bacteria, eating fermented foods can help. These are foods like pickles, sauerkraut, and certain yogurts. Another option is to take a probiotic supplement, which are also beneficial for individuals with digestive problems.  While the in depth study of the the gut microbiota and its specific health benefit potential is still in the beginning phases of research and discovery, there’s one conclusion that everyone can agree on: gut health is important for overall health.