Every human being is walking around with a plethora of bacteria on them – in them. I struggle on where to start on this topic, as most of you may already understand the importance of the gut microbiome, but I do not want to type above where others may be. If you are just beginning your journey into the knowledge of all things natural, then you are probably just diving into the pool of bacteria information. The gut, or digestive system includes the following organs: the mouth, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, colon, and rectum. Within this system lies the true brain on the body. Every single aspect of our physical (and mental, respectively) being is linked to the gut, and the bacteria within it. You read that right, the gut is the true brain of the body.
In all reality, it may soon be realized that the gut and brain are one system and not two because of how interlaced they truly are.
Here is the beautiful and crazy thing, everyone has a completely different microbiome. Did you know that there are more bacteria than cells within our bodies? With more than three trillion bacteria in our bodies, most of them reside with our gut. These bacteria have been found to be responsible to inflammation and immunities. They are a pertinent part of our genetic makeup, but yet, most people despise the thought of them.
I want to clear the record; bacteria is not a bad word. A healthy person will have quite the diverse microbiome within their gut. This great diversity is what typically keeps us healthy. It hasn’t been until recently that researchers have discovered the link to abnormal gut bacteria and illness, and it has opened Pandora’s Box.
There is no more denying that our gut bacteria isn’t the key to (almost everything). Research shows that a mother’s gut bacteria effects a growing fetus’ brain development. It plays a vital role in our physical and psychological health through its own neural network: the enteric nervous system (ENS), a complex system of about 100 million nerves within in the lining of the gut. It has connections to everything from autism to Alzheimer’s disease. But yet, no one is truly paying attention.
The microbiome within our bodies is extremely sensitive, and this is why I stress the importance of taking high-quality probiotics. Keeping that balance of bacteria is so detrimental to our health.
The latest publication of Scientific American included an article that touched on a recent research project from MIT, Harvard, and University of California. These scientists verified what other research had suggested: antibiotics wreak havoc on your gut health. Antibiotics:
- Deplete central metabolism intermediates in the peritoneum
- Elicit microbiome-independent changes in host metabolites
- Alter bacteria during an infection and inhibit drug efficacy
- Impair phagocytic killing by inhibiting respiratory activity
For better understanding, antibiotics are causing the body’s naturally good bacteria to be affected negatively, but at the same time, the harmful bacteria are not being eliminated. This presents a huge imbalance, and while symptoms may be lessened, the underlying issue becomes a much deeper problem.
Yes, medicine has its place, but this should be a wake-up call for everyone to understand that antibiotics are not equivalent to vitamins. They should not be given or taken for every ailment. Antibiotics will always affect the balance of the microbiome, which will of course affect the illness-fighting capabilities of your immune cells. This then leads to further illness, a weakened and more susceptible immune system, inflammation, or a plethora of chronic issues.
While researchers continue to peel back the layers, I hope that you understand that prioritizing your gut health will better equip you for a lifetime of health and happiness.