The Dizzying Benefits Of Healthy Gut Bacteria On Your Body | Caravan Sonnet

The Dizzying Benefits Of Healthy Gut Bacteria On Your Body

April 9, 2020

Nutrition researchers believed for most of the twentieth century that the essence of a proper diet was one that provided the body with all the calories, vitamins, and minerals that it needed to survive. The human frame was very much like a car, requiring specific inputs to get the desired output. 

But as the new millennium dawned, researchers began to realize that there was more to it than that. The body wasn’t so much a machine, but more of an ecosystem. And the food we ate had a direct effect on the kinds of creatures living inside it. Feed it one type of food, and you got one type of bacteria, and likewise, if you fed it another. We were more like greenhouses, with hundreds of different species on the inside than cars. 

This new perspective led to a change in thinking. The goal of nutrition, it seemed, wasn’t so much to avoid deficiencies, but rather to nurture the good bacteria in our innards. If we could somehow grow a healthy bowel-based greenhouse of our own, it would pay us back in dividends. 

Unfortunately, many people aren’t thinking in this way. The goal of nutrition, as they see it, is to lose weight, not nourish the ecosystem. So, they reduce calories, end up feeling hungry all the time, and give up, without changing the underlying microbiome. It is a missed opportunity.

Nurturing healthy bacterial colonies in our guts brings all kinds of benefits. The first is increased energy. You just feel better when you rid your body of critters that create harmful substances. 

The second benefit is better weight control. People who have certain “enterotypes” - or species of bacteria in their guts - put on weight far less rapidly, if at all. They tend to avoid the middle-age bloat that many people experience. And they often keep the waist that they had when they were a teenager for the rest of their lives. 

All of this, naturally, has led to an explosion of interest in probiotics. It is important to note that these are not the same as prebiotics. Prebiotics are what bacteria eat to grow and multiply. Onions, oats, beans and seeds all fall into this category. 

Probiotics, on the other hand, are the bacteria themselves. So when you take a probiotic supplement, you’re consuming billions of individual organisms that hopefully activate once they reach the bowel. Probiotics are useful for people who want to transition to a healthier gut microbiome, but they won’t work on their own. They need something to eat once they get down there. People who supplement, therefore, should focus on their diets if they want to experience all of the benefits. 

Speaking of which, what are the benefits?

They Could Help You Lose Weight, Especially Around The Belly
For years, researchers have known that people with healthy gut microbiomes tend to be the slimmest. But for a long time, they weren’t sure why. 

Now they think that it comes down to a combination of unique factors. 

One mechanism by which bacteria may work is to block the absorption of dietary fat through the walls of the intestines. In other words, good bacteria are a natural fat blocker. 

Another mechanism is that they help you feel fuller for longer. Bacteria may release hormonal signals that indicate satiety. 

Finally, bacteria may use the calories that you eat for their purposes, reducing the overall level of energy is available to your body. 

They Could Improve Your Immune System
Having a robust immune system is important in the best of times, but it is certainly a top priority right now. The good news, then, is that probiotics also appear to give the immune system a boost. 

When threatened by a virus, your body creates antibodies. These tiny proteins attach to receptors on the surface of the cells of your body, modifying them so that the virus cannot enter using its chemical machinery. Interestingly, some probiotics have been shown to promote the production of antibodies and improve the function of white blood cells. The combination of these two factors, therefore, could explain why some people get through COVID-19 with no symptoms at all, while others wind up in hospital. 

They Could Improve Digestive Disorders

We’re currently living through something of an inflammatory bowel epidemic. Millions of people all over the world are developing related conditions that are wrecking their quality of life. 

Researchers, however, think that the cause could be the change in the bacterial makeup of the bowel. Western diets are very different from the ones that we evolved to eat. They’re packed with meat and sugar and contain very little fiber by historical standards. The composition of bacteria in the gut, therefore, has changed markedly. The species that once dominated our colons just aren’t there anymore. Instead, they’ve been replaced by new strains that may be eliciting unwanted immune responses. 

Studies show, however, that probiotics, similar to the ones that you can buy from sites like Blue Sky Vitamin nutritional supplements, can undo some of the damage. Scientists have found that increasing the numbers of specific bacteria like E. coli Nissle keeps people in remission for longer. In other words, their symptoms don’t come back. 

They Can Help Fight Eczema
Eczema might seem like an entirely separate condition from inflammatory bowel, but they’re linked by the immune system. In eczema, the immune system accidentally starts attacking the skin, leading it to become dry and flaky.

Studies have found, however, that adding probiotics to the diet can help here too. When you feed children milk supplemented with probiotics, it reduces the severity of eczema and reduces allergies. The relationship is weak, but it is certainly something worth noting. 

They Can Keep Your Heart Healthy
We used to think that saturated fat was the cause of heart disease. And it is undoubtedly true that when you feed someone lots of fat and meat, their cholesterol goes up and their arteries become less healthy. But now researchers think that the picture is a little more complicated than this.

The traditional view was that you ate fat in the diet, and then your intestines absorbed it, and it made its way to your arteries where it clogged them up, like a drainpipe. But that isn’t how the process works at all. Instead, what happens is that saturated fat increases the number of lipids particles and inflammatory markers in the blood. These then lead to inflammation of the endothelium - the lining of your blood vessels. Over time with repeated exposure, it becomes more and more inflamed and engorged. 

So, where do probiotics fit into this story? 

Well, it turns out that people who have healthy gut bacteria seldom develop heart disease. Bacteria in their colons churn out anti-inflammatory short-chain fatty acids, which douse the flames created by a high-fat meal. The artery remains supple and doesn’t fall prey to fat incursions into the wall. Long-term, this means a much healthier cardiovascular system. 

They Improve Mental Health
Incredibly, there’s also evidence that the bacteria in your gut can have a significant impact on your psychology. Is there nothing that these critters can’t do? 

A review of more than fifteen studies in humans, for instance, found that a type of lactobacillus taken in supplement form could improve obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism, and depression when taken for between one and two months. Another study found that people who ate a lot of probiotic-rich yogurts had vastly reduced anxiety. 

They Can Treat Diarrhea
For most of the twentieth century, researchers believed that our stools were little more than the compacted remains of the fiber in our food and little more. Yes, there were a few bacteria here and there, but they only played a minor role. 

Now, though, the tables have turned. Researchers think that microbes make up the bulk of the stool and that indigestible plant material is just a small part of it. 

So when it comes to healthy, predictable visits to the loo, this is essential information. The more healthy bacteria that you can foster in your gut, the bigger and softer your stools will be. 

Diarrhea is a big problem, especially if you go on a course of antibiotics. It can totally wreck your day. But you can use probiotics to restore your regular composition of species and avoid loose stools. 

So how significant an effect are we talking here? It turns out that it is quite large. Research suggests that probiotics reduce the risk of diarrhea by more than 57 in children and around 26 percent in adults. ]

So, in summary, probiotics can have a significant positive impact on your health. They reveal that it is time that we stopped thinking in simplistic terms when it comes to nutrition. Nutrients are essential, but they’re not the whole story. We also need to provide the microbial colonies in our guts with the resources that they need to thrive. Prebiotics are important, too, highlighting one of the reasons why fruits and vegetables are so healthy. 

*contributed post*

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