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What we do and don't know about gut health

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190121-what-we-do-and-dont-know-about-gut-health

bbc.com

What we do and don't know about gut health
Inside your gastrointestinal (GI) tract are trillions of micro-organisms, including bacteria, fungi and viruses. You have roughly the same number of micro-organisms in there, mostly in the large intestine, as you do human cells in your entire body. But only 10% to 20% of the bacteria you have in your gut will be shared with anyone else.

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Western vs. Mediterranean diet

Western vs. Mediterranean diet

Western diet, typically high in animal fat and protein and low in fibre, increases the risk of cancer. The Mediterranean diet is high in fibre and low in red meat and has been likened with anti-inflammatory effects and an improved immune system.

This leads us to the conclusion that gut health, favoured by fibre, is a reason for longevity of people following the Mediterranean diet.

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Probiotics

Probiotics

There has been a lot of hype around the health benefits of prebiotics and probiotics in recent years, but while they're increasingly used in treatments including inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, several reviews suggest there needs to be further research on which strains and dosages are effective. Recent studies have found some people are even immune to probiotics.

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Gut microbiota

Gut microbiota has a major role to play in the health and function of the GI tract, with evidence that conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) often coincide with altered microbiota. But it also plays a much wider role in our health, and this is largely determined in the first few years of life.

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Antibiotics and gut health

Antibiotics and gut health

Antibiotics can dramatically alter our gut microbiota. Many of the genes thought to be fixed in certain bacterial environments can start spreading by overuse of antibiotics, which can put pressure on the resistant genes locked up inside a single bacterial cell, causing them to mobilise.

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The gut–brain axis

The brain and gut have a strong, two-way communication system Each are essential to the other – studies have found that brain development is abnormal in the absence of the gut microbiome. Gut microbes can produce most of the neurotransmitters found in the human brain, including serotonin, which plays a key role in regulating mood.

 However, research hasn’t yet figured out which exact gut bacterium are crucial for brain development.

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Our Microbiome Affects Our Mood

Our state of mind gets affected by our gut bacteria, which is part of our Microbiome.

Probiotics are live bacterial supplements and Prebiotics are the dietary fiber that promotes bacterial growth. In various experiments, scientists have been able to alter our stress response, anxiety levels and reduce mental health problems by administering Probiotics/Prebiotics in our stomach.

Psychobiotics

Psychobiotics is an upcoming class of medicines geared towards promoting psychological health through the alteration of your microbiota (Gut Bacteria).

Doctors have known since long that certain mental health problems do have their origin in the gut, like inflammation, but a detailed study on mice is now being done, with large-scale studies on humans in the offing.

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The Second Brain In Our Gut

The brain and the gut are linked and in constant communication, and about 100 million nerve cells reside in the gut.

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Take Care Of Your Gut

Exposure and consumption of good bacteria are essential for a balanced brain, as it reduces inflammation and makes us more resilient to depressive states and trauma.

These new findings point towards better ways of treatment for psychiatric disorders. It is essential to take care of your gut bacteria for better mental health and a sharper brain.

Microbes

Research found the following difference in stomach microbes of different individuals:

  • Intestinal microbes of people living in villages, having a natural diet, are much more complex, and ...

Wrong Baseline Data

Due to the new kinds of microbes discovered in villagers, all the previous research on diet and microbes, which used the baseline data of the Western civilization microbe, thought to be the healthy and normal microbe, is now incorrect. 

Digesting Fibre

The Western world has stomach microbial communities that could digest junk food and might re-diversify and recover (to a limited extent) if we just ate more whole grains and veggies.