The gut microbiome is the name for a collection of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, etc) that live in your large intestine (your gut). They can be super helpful if you can feed and grow the good microbes. Find out more about my favorite way to promote good bacteria by checking out my Gut Health page. Now we know what the gut microbiome is...but what exactly does it do for us?
Sends Signals to the Immune System
The gut microbiome is a big communicator in your body. These little bugs produce lots of signaling compounds that help your gut 'talk' to your immune system. Your gut microbiome can help prime your immune system so it is in tip-top shape for fighting off nasty viruses (I'm looking at you coronavirus!). The gut has our best interest at heart and wants us to be able to fight off anything we might come in contact with so we can keep our body and the microbiome's home as safe as possible.
Communicates with the Brain
Your gut microbiome is often referred to as the 'second brain'. This is because it can help regulate your immune system and can even influence things like your taste in foods, stress resilience, and everyday moods! how does it do all of this? Well, it is communicating with your brain! The second brain and the first brain are always talking to one another and keeping tabs on your internal and external environment. When the good microbes are in charge of the gut they tell your brain to crave healthy foods and can even help balance out your mood. When the bad microbes are in charge you may find yourself craving sugary foods and feeling unbalanced. There are ways to make sure the good guys are in charge in the gut but that's a post for another day!
One way the microbes in your gut communicate with your brain and balance out or boost your mood is by making neurotransmitters. These are compounds that the brain uses to communicate. Serotonin and GABA are some of the most important 'happy' neurotransmitters and the gut can make both of them! Serotonin is the major happy chemical and the gut actually produces the most in the whole body. A happy gut makes for a happier you. GABA is a relaxation neurotransmitter that tends to be low in people who struggle with negative thoughts and depression. GABA helps shut down the negative thought pathway and there are many different gut organisms that can make it if you feed them fiber. These neurotransmitters made by the gut help it communicate with your first brain and can influence your mood.
Last (for today) but not least, the gut can actually make some of the essential vitamins we need! Your microbes can create vitamin K and quite a few of the B vitamins right in your gut for you. We need to have vitamins because they are essential to many of our body's functions but sometimes we don't absorb quite enough from our foods. Lucky for us, a healthy and well-fed gut microbiome can help make some vitamins for us. Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and B vitamins do a wide array of things by being cofactors (essential helpers) in our body's systems.
Builds Fatty Acids
The gut can build short-chain fatty acids for you! The microbes in your gut eat up all the fiber you can't digest yourself and in return, they produce short-chain fatty acids that the body can use. Short-chain fatty acids may be one way the gut communicates with the rest of the body...and specifically the brain!
Thank your Microbiome Today!
Wow! the microbiome does so so much for us and this is just scratching the surface of what those little microbes can do if you treat them right. Thank your microbiome today by getting in some fresh air, plenty of fruits and veggies, and a bit of mindfulness and gratitude to relax and appreciate your body and all of the amazing things it can do. Check out the Freebies page or other Blog posts for recipe ideas to feed your microbiome today.