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A Healthier Gut, A Happier You

Prepared by Nutritionist Tian Hui


A Healthier Gut, A Happier You

The gut microbiota is a complex ecosystem that changes constantly, containing trillions of microorganisms that play a part in maintaining a healthy immune system and digestive processes.1 Studies have shown that gut health is closely tied to human wellbeing, nutrition, daily functioning, and immune function.The gut is mainly responsible for ensuring proper nutrient breakdown, absorption, and for protecting the host against pathogenic bacteria.3
 

There are a few ways to promote a healthy gastrointestinal tract – mainly through diet, probiotics, and prebiotics as well as exercise. In recent decades, dietary habits have modernized – e.g., excessive consumption of sugar and fat, which is closely associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome. Furthermore, studies have shown that such dietary habits are linked to an imbalanced microbiome, which may, in turn, increase the susceptibility to the development of chronic diseases and poor wellbeing.On the contrary, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes is naturally associated with higher dietary fiber content, which plays an important role in maintaining a healthy gut. With that said, there is little doubt that diet has a major impact on the diversity of microbiome diversity and composition.4
 

Another important factor for maintaining a healthy gut microbiota is probiotics. Probiotics refer to live microorganisms – which provide health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. It can be considered as functional foods or nutraceuticals, as they provide health benefits beyond their nutritional value. It is most commonly found in yogurt, fermented foods, and dietary supplements. Probiotics contain a wide variety of microorganisms, where the most common are bacteria named Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Probiotics may help the body maintain a healthy community of microorganisms and produce substances that could have beneficial effects which may then support the immune system.A probiotic supplement could be useful for regulating healthy bowel movements, better digestion, and maintaining a healthy immune system.
 

Another interesting factor for a healthy gut would be exercise. There are plenty of benefits when it comes to regular physical activity. Exercise could potentially lower the risk of chronic illnesses, sustain and improve quality of life.6 Moreover, exercise can also influence the gut microbiota; thus, contributing to microflora diversity. As a result, this may further benefit an individual by supporting one’s health and well-being.7
 

As such, there are many factors affecting the human microbiome. It is indeed a powerful system – where the microorganisms have the potential to impact our physiological functions, which ultimately contributes to the body’s defence and immunity.

                                            

References:

  1. Rinninella, E., Cintoni, M., Raoul, P., Lopetuso, L. R., Scaldaferri, F., Pulcini, G., Miggiano, G., Gasbarrini, A., & Mele, M. C. (2019). Food Components and Dietary Habits: Keys for a Healthy Gut Microbiota Composition. Nutrients11(10), 2393. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11102393
  2. Guinane, C. M., & Cotter, P. D. (2013). Role of the gut microbiota in health and chronic gastrointestinal disease: understanding a hidden metabolic organ. Therapeutic advances in gastroenterology6(4), 295–308. https://doi.org/10.1177/1756283X13482996
  3. Hsiao, W. W., Metz, C., Singh, D. P., & Roth, J. (2008). The microbes of the intestine: an introduction to their metabolic and signaling capabilities. Endocrinology and metabolism clinics of North America37(4), 857–871. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecl.2008.08.006
  4. Makki, K., Deehan, E. C., Walter, J., & Bäckhed, F. (2018). The impact of dietary fiber on gut microbiota in host health and disease. Cell host & microbe23(6), 705-715. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chom.2018.05.012
  5. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics-what-you-need-to-know
  6. Ruegsegger, G. N., & Booth, F. W. (2018). Health Benefits of Exercise. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine8(7), a029694. https://doi.org/10.1101/cshperspect.a029694
  7. Monda, V., Villano, I., Messina, A., Valenzano, A., Esposito, T., Moscatelli, F., Viggiano, A., Cibelli, G., Chieffi, S., Monda, M., & Messina, G. (2017). Exercise Modifies the Gut Microbiota with Positive Health Effects. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity2017, 3831972. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/3831972

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