We’ve all been told to “trust our guts” but what we may not realize is just how wise, and deserving of attention, those inside voices may be.
There are 100 trillion organisms living in our bodies, in over 500 known diverse species.
We’re more bacterial than we are human. The human gut contains more bacteria than human cells in the rest of your body by a factor of 10, and can weigh between 5-7 pounds!
More than 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates professed that “All disease begins in your gut”.
But we have been conditioned to fear germs, obsess over hygiene. We are prescribed medications that unfortunately eradicate the “good bacteria” while targeting the bad. Our Western diet high in sugar, unhealthy fats, processed and/or refined foods can disrupt this balance, compromising our overall health.
How so? Sugars and refined carbohydrates feed the “bad” bacteria, disrupting order in our digestive tract, triggering our body’s immune defenses and causing inflammation.
Recent research has shown that keeping these tiny organisms in check can play a significant role in controlling our weight and the effects of metabolic syndrome:
High blood pressure, a larger waistline, and lab studies showing high triglycerides, low HDL and high fasting blood sugar.
An unhealthy balance of bacteria has been proven to cause many different ailments, including headaches, skin conditions, joint and muscle pain, allergies, asthma, menstrual pain and irregularities… the list goes on!
Hippocrates was on to something! A healthy gut = A healthy YOU.
So, those little organisms deserve more credit! And we might as well validate their feelings, too. Did you know that half of the nerve cells in our body reside in our gut? While bacteria are helping us to break down food, they are communicating with our brains via the vagus nerve, which runs from our abdomen to our brainstem- the “brain-gut axis” that has garnered a lot of attention recently.
This “second brain” in our small intestine is known as the enteric nervous system and is responsible for producing a large supply of the chemical signals that affect our mood and cognitive function. About 85% of the serotonin- the feel good, “happy hormone” in our bodies is stored in our gut!
So what can we do to keep those little organisms happy?
Nourish them! Probiotics and Prebiotics promote their health.
Check out this helpful infographic:
At Jeni-Fit, we have a probiotic supplement that we recommend. Check it out here!
Illustration at the top by Benjamin Arthur for NPR