The human body is one of the most complicated machines, contains roughly 1013 cells. But do you know, our body is the habitat for 1014 microbes. Now that’s 10 times the number of cells we have. Majority of these “good” bacteria are found along the inner lining of our gut.
You may be wondering – why do we even need these simple, tiny creatures? These little guys have a symbiotic, i.e. “give and take” relationship with us. They protect us from the harmful microbes, help us in carrying out many physiological functions. In return we provide them food and shelter. Seems fair, doesn’t it?
Let’s look at some the ways our little friends play a role in our day to day lives.
The Soldiers of our Belly
How many times have you suffered from stomach pain, infection and other problems? At least a few times in your life till now. Have you ever wondered how you got those infections?
The pathogens, i.e., “the bad microbes” enter our gut through contaminated food or drinks. Once there, they try to attach to the wall of the gut. From there, they derive nutrition, multiply and release toxins, which make us fall sick.
Now, how do our little friends protect us? Simple. They form a lining on the gut surface. Thus when the pathogens enter our gut, they cannot find a place to attach. This prevents them from multiplying and releasing the toxins, thus preventing the infection.
The “Gut Feeling”
Did you know, the bacteria present in our gut can affect our mood. Shocking, right? This gives a whole new meaning to the term “Gut feeling”. Well, you may be surprised to know that these little creatures living inside our gut, can influence our mood to a significant extent.
Have you ever noticed that whenever you are under a lot of stress and anxiety, you tend to suffer from digestion problems? They may seem as 2 completely different and unrelated things, but they are not. Scientist have uncovered the relations between them in recent years.
Our Moods are controlled by certain chemical affecting our brain. Feeling calm and energetic? Thank Serotonin. Feeling angry and frustrated? Blame Epinephrine. Feeling restless and anxious? Blame GABA.
Now, you may be wondering – what does this have to do with our gut microbes? Well, scientists have found that nearly 60 – 70% of Dopamine and Serotonin are produced in our intestines by the bacteria living there. Therefore, any disturbance in the gut microbe population is likely to cause mood swings. Scientists have found out that a proper balanced diet helps to maintain a healthy microbe population in our gut, thereby greatly improving our mood.
So next time when you are felling sad, depressed, anxious or angry; it may be because of those little bacteria in your gut.
Taking Care of our little friends
Now, that we have established how helpful these little creatures are, we must ensure that we have enough good bacteria inside our gut at all times. Let us see some ways by which we can maintain a healthy population of good bacteria inside our Gut.
Pro-biotics: A Top-up for your gut microbes
Probiotics refer to fermented products which contain millions of “good” bacteria. They include everyday products like Curd, yogurt, milk to name a few. Just like our own cells, we need to replenish the bacteria inside our gut to maintain a healthy population. For this reason, you should consider taking probiotics on a regular basis. Besides the foods mentioned, you can also get probiotic supplements in the market.
Pre-biotics: Food for our little friends
Now, let’s see what are Pre-biotics. Pre-biotics are usually indigestible food such as fibers, that promote the growth of beneficial microbes in our gut. So, consuming pre-biotics is essential to ensure the wellbeing of your little friends. So, when you go grocery shopping next time, try to include some under-ripe bananas, asparagus and dandelion leaves. Also try to include onions and garlic in your cooking. All these are good sources of pre-biotics.
Go easy on the Anti-biotics
Anti-biotics are the mortal enemy of all bacteria – the good ones, the bad ones and evil ones. Every time you start suffering from any bacterial infection, your first instinct is – hey let’s just take some Anti-biotics and kill these evil creatures. While it is recommended that you take them for moderate and severe infections, you should avoid using them for the usual cough and cold. True, they cure you fast, but the long term effects are not worth it.
When you do have to take anti-biotics, you must ensure you do something to ensure that the good bacteria are not wiped out along with the evil ones. So, whenever you take an antibiotic dose, take some probiotic supplement later on to compensate the loss of good bacteria.
Improving your Gut Microbiome
Now that we have seen how important these little creatures are, and how we can maintain them in our gut, let us look at a few everyday things you can do.
- Eat the right food. Eat a variety of healthy, non-processed food. Have a helping of vegetables and fruits every day, along with a fermented product, like curd or yogurt. Keep all those processed food items out of your menu.
- Go for Pro-biotic supplements if you are having stomach problems.
- Consult a doctor before you start popping those antacids every time you have acidity. Try other natural remedies, like drinking adequate amount of water, instead.
- Try to relax before major meals. This may sound weird, but the bacteria in your gut behave according to your mood and vice versa. So meditate for 10 minutes before lunch every day.
So, follow these simple rules. Be happy, and keep your little friends happy too.
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