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They say we are what we eat. Yet perhaps there is at least one person in our circle who eats the healthiest meal and still struggles with a health problem. Well, that’s because we are not only what we eat, but what we digest too. - By Nikita Arya
Keeping your gut healthy will help you maintain your overall health. The human digestive tract has its mysterious ways of working, which go far beyond performing digestion. Wondering how? Let's delve deeper.
For starters, think and observe what happens in your stomach while you’re too anxious, tensed, or too happy. It shrinks a bit as if it had a winged insect in it (hoping you’ve felt at least butterflies in the stomach!) That pretty much explains how your gut is more than just digestion.
Your gut also works as a communication center for the brain. It helps us decide what, when, and how much we should eat or drink. It also holds an influential position in the fight against any disease. According to health experts, our gut has its ecosystem known as the gut microbiome, consisting of trillions of bacteria that control the digestion of food, immune system, central nervous system, and more.
1. Healthy Gut Means Healthy Heart
Certain bacteria in the microbiome convert a nutrient named choline into trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). High levels of TMAO can cause stroke, blood clots, and other heart-related issues. Some choline-rich foods are eggs and red meat, which most of us eat in a large quantity. The gut microbiome has also been found helpful in repair damage from heart attacks by regenerating tissues.
2. Gut and Brain Have a Deep Connection
Surprisingly, your gut and brain connect through millions of nerves. That’s why you can feel it in the stomach when you’re in stressful or overwhelming situations. An unhealthy gut can even lead you towards anxiety, depression, or stress. Certain bacteria in the gut microbiome help produce neurotransmitters in the brain that may lead to a healthier brain. For instance, serotonin, which is an antidepressant neurotransmitter, is manufactured in the gut. Therefore, the gut microbiome may help in chronic pain and enhancing mood.
3. Gut Affects Weight & Blood Sugar Management
The gut microbiome has an active role in keeping the body’s metabolism in check. An imbalance in gut bacteria leads to fatigue, excessive weight gain, and problematic health conditions such as diabetes. If your gut microbiome has enough bacteria in it, you develop a faster metabolism, making you less likely to catch such health problems.
4. Gut Microbiome Builds Up Your Immunity
The gut microbiome helps build the body’s immunity by communicating with cells of the immune system. It stimulates the production of T-cells, which shield your body’s cells from harmful bacteria. In case there’s an imbalance in the microbiome, the body’s immune system gets confused and starts attacking its cells, weakening itself.
5. Healthy Digestion is the Key to Health
All the bacteria found in the gut microbiome, as the name suggests, primarily take care of gut health. These bacteria communicate with the intestinal cells, help digest foods, and prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to intestinal walls, allowing better absorption of nutrients. If there’s an imbalance in gut bacteria, you may experience gastrointestinal issues such as bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, etc.
The Bottom Line
Now that you know how your gut health affects your entire body, you need to learn ways to keep your gut healthier. Here comes the role of mindful eating. To keep it healthy, eat right: lots of fruits and vegetables, high-fiber foods, probiotics, and fermented foods.
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