Did you know the germs in your poo are far more important than you ever thought? Of course, they play such a great importance in your health and diseases.
Many studies have now shown that a disrupted microbiome (Gut Dysbiosis) can lead to numerous chronic diseases, including obesity, inflammatory bowel diseases, diabetes, stomach ulcers, allergies and cancer among others.
In fact, in recent news, someone had a transplant of faeces (fecal transplant) from a donor, in order to correct the challenges he had with melanoma (the most serious type of skin cancer) and which was a result of an imbalance in his gut bacteria.
What is the gut?
The gut refers to your gastrointestinal system, When your gastrointestinal tract digests food, it breaks it down to very small parts and the nutrients are therefore absorbed through the wall of the and taken into the bloodstream.
The gut uses nerves, bacteria and hormones to regulate this process. Yes, we generally assume that bacteria are bad, but these same bacteria form a mucosal layer that strengthens the gut wall and good digestive health is the result of a balance of good and bad bacteria.
What are gut bacteria?
These are normal flora (residents) in our intestines. From birth, the numbers and types increase from about 1000 to as much as 10¹⁴ ten times more than human cells around the age of one year.
What do gut bacteria do?
Usually, gut bacteria live as commensals benefiting from and also being benefited by humans. They help in digestion, complex energy metabolism. Also, they make vitamins, essential gases and ions for important cellular reactions in the body. They constitute to host the defense system, by regulating normal cell functions, bowel lining integrity and immune system. Understanding gut bacteria can help provide insights into a new series of health treatment and disease prevention.
Yet, gut bacteria help kill bad germs and prevent their entrance into the body cavities. Gut germs also help in regulating gut movement, transforming bile acid and steroids and helping in the production of short chain fatty and organic acids.
Oxalibacteria have well-defined health benefits of preventing formation of kidney stones, through the regulation of formation of oxalic acid. Pepto streptococcus are essential in producing lignans and isoflavones, which have protective activities in breast cancer, prostate cancer, liver diseases, development of chronic HIV, cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis and menopausal symptoms.
What are the factors that can influence gut bacteria?
The 2 main factors influencing gut bacteria are the Environment and Diet. It thus starts with infant feeding. Breast milk is so beneficial.
Diet rich in plant proteins, grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables are very helpful in the growth and maintenance of beneficial gut bacteria. Animal-based diets like yoghurt, cheese, fermented milk, fish, omega 3-rich foods are also essential. Avoid red meat, excess iron, fried foods, junk diet and western foods.
However, a person’s state of health, stress, age, genetic, lifestyles, the use of antibiotics, living environment and ongoing diseases can affect normal gut germs.
The best way to maintain a healthy microbiome is to eat a range of fresh and whole foods, mainly from plant sources like fruits, veggies, legumes, beans and whole grains.