As a health coach in London, I’m often asked about gut microbes and whether or not they’re able to actually affect your health.
More people have become interested in the role that gut bacteria play in our well-being over the past few years after studies have shown that, in fact, many of the symptoms that we experience are due, at least in part, to imbalances in our gut microbiome.
It has become clear that gut bacteria have a key part to play in regulating our mental health, mood and physical well-being.
Get the balance right and the symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression can be relieved, but get the balance wrong and those symptoms can worsen exponentially.
What Is The Gut Microbiome?
The colon houses bacterial cells that make up the gut microbiome. Everyone’s microbiome looks different since it is a product of a range of factors including our diets, lifestyle and environment and it’s been determined that it has a part to play in how many of the body’s different systems work.
The gut microbiome allows nutrients to get into the body while preventing pathogens from entering, and its activity can influence the brain and your mental health.
If your microbiome is well-balanced you’ll be more resilient to stress, but if it’s imbalanced, you could become anxious and depressed.
The gut also has a part to play in how the mechanisms of satiety, hunger and digestion work.
It has been shown that lean and obese people have significant differences in their microbiomes and this is starting to lead to more personalised treatments for weight-management.
The Brain And The Gut Are Connected
There is a connection between the brain and the gut through the vagus nerve. This nerve sends messages between the colon and the brain and this explains why gut bacteria has such an impact on our overall health and well-being.
The vagus nerve affects:
- Motility – it aids in moving the food through the digestive tract
- Appetite – it tells the brain that you’re full
- Digestion – it stimulates digestive enzymes to be released
When the bacteria in the gut break food down, it transforms the food into metabolites which the vagus nerve detects, sending the information to the brain and allowing digestive processes to be regulated.
Obesity And The Gut Microbiome
Gut bacteria has been shown to impact on obesity. Certain gut bacteria have been linked with obesity and weight gain as well as higher insulin secretions and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes.
However, having a diverse range of bacteria in your gut helps to reduce the likelihood of obesity, as the microbiome influences how our metabolisms work.
Consuming more fibre helps to increase gut bacterial diversity, and this means that introducing a wider range of healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes and wholegrains into our diets is highly beneficial.
As a health coach from home in London, I can work with you to change your diet and nutrition and improve your gut microbiome so that you can reduce your weight and enjoy better overall health and well-being.