How To Improve Gut Health Naturally And Live A Long And Healthy Life
The intestinal flora is a highly complex ecosystem composed of over 400 species of bacteria and microorganisms. Within this article, I want to explain to you how essential it is for you to take care of your intestinal well-being, and how to improve gut health naturally. So, let’s dive right into it.
If the intestinal tract of a child in the womb is still completely “sterile”, then the bacteria quickly colonize the intestinal tract after birth, whereby especially the colon (the large intestine) harbors a particularly rich variety of bacteria.
The 400 microorganism representatives come together in the billions of trillions in the gastrointestinal tract.
It is, therefore, all the more understandable that such a large number of microorganisms total up to a weight of up to 3.3 pounds in the adult human body.
However, the intestinal flora is by no means useless, let alone unimportant, because it is of the essence for the human body.
To further clarify the extent of microbial colonization in the human gut, one can mention that the intestinal flora holds 1.3 times as many microorganisms as the human body has cells.
The tasks of the intestinal flora include keeping the immune system, defense function and digestive tract in order.
Role of the intestinal flora
The role of the intestinal flora in the human body is still puzzling today, as science continues to research the functions of this complex, dynamic ecosystem. Following are some important tasks of the intestinal flora to give you an understanding of the various duties of this system.
Effect of intestinal flora on insulin sensitivity
How the intestines affect body mass has been an area of intense research for many years. Scientists around the world are also involved in the role of the intestinal flora in this context. One theory describes that certain gut bacteria make it easier to break down dietary fiber that enters the intestine.
Scientists further believe in a possibility for a better permeability of the intestinal wall for simple sugars through the intestinal bacteria. This means that intestinal bacteria are also supposed to help create fat deposits, which would give them a significant role in “weight gain”.
Bacteria can, however, also work in the opposite direction. So-called slimming bacteria can increase their satiety.
Scientists are also investigating the possibility that bacteria could make the intestine leaky due to micro-inflammation ( hence the term “leaky guts”).
According to scientists, such an increased porosity of the intestine would lead to increased uptakes of toxic bacterial components, which would lead to an inflammatory reaction and, thus, could limit insulin sensitivity.
Scientifically, inequality of the intestinal flora may, therefore, be a reason for the increased risk of type II diabetes.
1. Balancing of the autoimmune activity by the intestinal flora
I want to explain the comprehensive effects that the human intestinal flora has on its various functional systems in the following example. Scientists have long suspected a connection between autoimmune diseases and the microorganisms of the intestinal flora.
Certain unicellular organisms, the so-called bacteroids, can activate the immune system early on in the case of special autoimmune bowel diseases.
Researchers have been able to show that these bacteroids produce the protein “integrase,” which attracts white blood cells of the immune system in order to destroy cells responsible for the outbreak of various intestinal diseases early.
If there is an overactivation of white blood cells, an autoimmune reaction may result, culminating in a derailed inflammatory response. The discovery of mechanisms of interaction between the intestinal flora and the immune system presents researchers with a whole new field of possible therapeutic applications.
These, on the other hand, could help to better treat autoimmune diseases through inflammatory bacteria, such as those found in the intestinal flora
2. Regulation of allergic reactions through the intestinal flora
The intestinal wall not only serves for absorption, as for instance the ingestion of food but also has the task of not allowing toxic substances to pass. So-called “tight junctions’ provide and maintain this function.
They are cell-cell connections that virtually weld adjacent cells together by means of proteins.
If these intestinal barrier functions are disturbed, the results are of wide-ranging effects on the health of the intestine, as well as on the general condition and well-being.
Increased penetration of antigens accompanies the enhanced permeability of the intestine, which is one of the leading causes of food allergies, especially in children. Therefore, it is particularly essential that in kids after birth, the intestinal immune system begins to mature rapidly and continuously.
The hygiene hypothesis describes the connection between the attempt to achieve as much sterility in the child’s environment as possible, and the fact that a healthy training of the intestinal flora is not possible due to this excessive protection.
3. Effect of intestinal flora on appetite stimulation
By connecting the intestine to the nervous and endocrine systems, the intestinal flora can be involved in important processes that would not have been closely related to the intestinal flora a few years ago. For example, scientists at the University of New Mexico believe that microorganisms in the gut can influence which dish you choose to eat in the restaurant or at home.
Microorganisms in the intestine depend on a wide variety of nutrients due to their diversity and biodiversity.
It may be possible that micro bacteria gain access to the required nutrients through food cravings.
If the microbes are “satisfied” with the food intake, then the release of the happiness hormone dopamine sets in, which then gives you a sense of satisfaction.
To avoid food cravings, experts consistently recommend a healthier diet as the drug of choice, followed by the inclusion of probiotics.
4. The intestinal flora has an effect on mood and mental health
Researchers in recent years have increasingly gone further to investigate the relationship between the gut and its influence on the brain. Scientists from the University of Carolina found that the different accumulations of bacteria in the intestines may be the reason for mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders or depressive moods.
The communication between the brain and the intestine occurs via the gut-brain axis and can be tracked in both directions.
In addition to the spinal cord as a central point of contact between the peripheral and central nervous system, the vagus nerve is an important component of this axis.
The microorganisms produce neurotransmitters (messenger substances) in the form of the intestinal flora. It, furthermore, creates the neural network of the intestine (enteric nervous system) and the vagus nerve, the so-called microbiome-intestinal brain axis.
This makes the communication between the intestinal flora and the brain possible. The hormone dopamine is also capable to enable the communication of the two systems.
Gut bacteria are an important building block of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and GABA.
Thus, scientists from Cox University in Ireland were able to draw conclusions about how damaged gut flora can reduce the production of important neurotransmitters, leading to a variety of mental symptoms.
5. Healthy skin through the effect of the intestinal flora
Now let’s talk about the effect of a healthy intestinal flora on the skin. Because research has shown that intestinal bacteria can also be effective at the dermatological level. For example, they are able to produce hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, ceramides or even antioxidants and UV sun protection factors.
They use all of these ingredients in the beauty industry. Due to a large number of species of microorganisms that colonize the intestinal flora, it is not unreasonable that each type of microorganisms also fulfills their special tasks in this interaction.
For example, a Korean study showed that study participants who took either a dietary supplement containing lactic acid bacteria for the three months achieved a significant improvement in skin hydration.
After 12 weeks, a measurable reduction in wrinkles also occurred, which the researchers in the placebo group could not find.
Another study from France and Switzerland has shown how a strain of bacteria, Lactobacillus casei, works on sensitive and irritated skin. The scientists found that these microorganisms resulted in a significant reduction in sensitivity and strengthening of the skin
6. Effect of the intestinal flora on the health of the liver
It is widely known that the liver and intestine influence each other. Thus, the intestine can affect the liver through its barrier function and the liver in turn the intestine through the production of bile acids.
According to experts, intestinal complaints often trigger liver disease. Disturbances of the liver may, in turn, also be responsible for diseases of the intestinal tract.
Two syndromes that scientists associate again and again with this close connection between the liver and intestine are fatty liver, as well as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
As has been shown in the past, especially NASH spreads by the likewise increasing obesity rate.
According to researchers, the reason for the diseases could be a changed intestinal flora, which is especially noticeable in overweight people. The connection between liver and intestine is also very narrow.
An example of this is a liver disease, the primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), which is associated with chronic inflammatory bowel disease in 70% of cases.
Sign of a dysbalance of the intestinal flora
As you have already discovered, the intestinal flora is a very complex, dynamic system made up of trillions of other players. Again, it is not uncommon to feel dysregulation and disbalance quickly. Here are some important symptoms that you should keep in mind for a disturbance of the intestinal flora.
Feeling of fullness, belching
Increased susceptibility to infection
Increased menstrual disorders and PMS
Deterioration of the skin
Autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis)
Build up your intestinal flora: 10 measures to strengthen the intestinal flora
After getting to know the general meaning of the intestinal flora for humans and the possibilities of interaction with other systems, the following is a way to help you to proceed even against a mild dysregulation.
1. Take fermented food
Adding salt, sugar or certain fungal cultures produces fermented foods. Then, this converts them from conventional edibles, through a type of fermentation, into their fermented variant.
A good example of fermented food is the sauerkraut, which is full of healthy microorganisms and vitamin C.
But foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, sourdough bread, yogurt, kefir and Kombucha are classic representatives of fermented foods.
The occurring lactic acid fermentation produces a large number of probiotics, which are essentially helpful for the intestinal flora.
Instead of taking probiotics in tablet form, you should simply resort to fermented foods next time you are going to supply your intestinal flora with the necessary amount of probiotics.
2. Reduce sugar, avoid artificial sweeteners and ready meals
The combination of sugar and high-fat foods can have fatal consequences for your intestinal flora, so you contribute to the targeted destruction of your intestinal flora by taking these foods. The high-fat and high-sugar diet is increasingly prevalent in the Western world.
According to a French study, it is a possible trigger for the inflammatory bowel disorder Crohn’s disease. for the above-mentioned reasons.
The study found that dysbiosis (microbial imbalance) took place a short time after the intake of sugar and fat, and that the thickness of the intestinal wall began to shrink significantly.
Therefore, harmful bacteria could multiply all the better. So try to reduce the high-fat and high-sugar diet, as it is the case when consuming many finished products, and switch to healthy, wholesome nutrition.
3. Take probiotic foods
Probiotics have significant involvement in the regulation and balance of the intestinal flora. Probiotics contain viable microorganisms, so they belong to the group of “functional foods”. Here, they use mostly lactic acid bacteria and yeasts, however, it also includes other species.
Probiotic foods contain the microorganisms of the species Lactobacillus casei. It can overcome the passage of the stomach with the property and the ability to divide. By colonization of the intestine, lactobacilli or probiotics, in general, should prevent or reduce intestinal deficit colonization by the production of bacteriocins.
In addition to the fermented foods already mentioned, foods with probiotic supplements are also available on the market. Therefore, probiotic foods in the form of sausage, ice cream, but also cheese and curd are not uncommon.
4. Consume fewer animal products
A diet free of animal protein may seem drastic for some people. Scientists, however, have concluded from a study that healthy gut flora and a vegan diet are linked to one another. In his book “China Study”, T. Coin Campbell dispels the myths surrounding vegan nutrition.
He also shows that abstaining from animal protein not only results in a healthier intestinal flora, but can also prevent malignant diseases of the intestine, including cancer.
According to Campbell, a vegan lifestyle can also reduce intestinal rotting. Another positive side effect of the vegan diet is, among other things, the reduction of an unpleasant body odor.
The good thing is that in order to achieve a positive effect, you do not have to permanently abstain from animal protein. Even a little break can help you to live healthier and to support your intestinal flora.
5. More vegetables and fiber
Fiber is an important component of digestion and gut health from the food side. Dietary fiber is an indigestible nutrient that stimulates peristalsis and positively influences the regulation of the cholesterol balance.
Similarly, high-fiber diets can help significantly reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. If you ask yourself which foods contain a lot of fiber, then you are well-advised with a simple rule of thumb.
This is, the less industrially post-processed a food is, the higher the usual fiber content.
In this manner, you can also prevent diverticula and hemorrhoids. Make sure you also drink sufficient fluids: water, juice and smoothies (especially green for cleansing).
6. Avoid or limit antibiotics
The use of antibiotics is often a common choice in treating progressive bacterial infections. But above all, broadband antibiotics can permanently damage the intestinal flora. According to new findings, one can detect the antibiotic damage a year after the end of the intake based on the intestinal flora.
7. Reduce stress
Physical and emotional stress doesn’t only have an effect on the condition. It can also cause physical consequences, which may affect the intestine, among other things.
Because of stress, the permeability (permeability) of the intestine can be increased. This, on the other hand, can lead to a disbalance between the intestinal immune system and intestinal flora.
A consequence of this can be a permanently lasting, usually silent, inflammatory process. This, on the other hand, can subsequently lead to chronic intestinal diseases.
In this context, it is also easy to see why the so-called irritable bowel syndrome particularly often occurs in very stressful situations.
Therefore, you should definitely avoid stress as much as possible. Not only because of your intestinal flora but also to provoke no further diseases.
8. Enough Sleep
Sufficient sleep is important. However, researchers from an Israeli study have shown that shift work and time change also have a significant impact on the human body. Researchers have experimented with mice and investigated the influence of the internal clock on intestinal bacteria.
The scientists also emphasized the rhythm of food intake. They found that a disturbing rhythm also had extensive effects on the bacterial composition in the gut. This disbalance can, in turn, lead to the occurrence of various consequences and diseases already discussed.
Exercise is good for the body, soul and health, as many know. However, it is also benefiting the intestinal flora. Scientists today know that athletes have a significantly better and healthier intestinal flora than non-athletes.
The inflammatory values of sports enthusiasts are much lower. In the study, 46 professional rugby players were compared to healthy men during a training-intensive phase.
The evaluation of the stool and blood samples clearly showed that the professionals had an improved metabolism and much lower inflammatory values.
The scientists concluded that this must be an effect of the more diverse and healthier intestinal flora.
Building gut bacteria with fermented dishes: A recipe for homemade sauerkraut
You already know that fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, are rich in probiotics, which can help your intestinal flora. Now you will learn how to make sauerkraut at home yourself.
1 head of white cabbage
A tablespoon salt
1 liter of water
Plus: (150 g salt for the brine)
Divide the cabbage and remove the outermost leaves. Then remove some leaves as a whole and put them aside for the time being. After removing the stalk, you have to grate the cabbage finely. For this, you can use a grater or a suitable machine.
Afterward, mix the cabbage with the salt and knead it several times. Now use mortar and pestle to extract the water from it by repeatedly pounding and pressing.
Then you need a suitable glass jar and fill the cabbage there. Now, the leaves from earlier on come into action. Use these and cover the cabbage with them. Pour brine over it (150g of salt dissolved in one liter of water) until the cabbage is completely covered.
Now all you have to do is to wait up to 10 days to enjoy your sauerkraut. Store it at room temperature. The longer you wait, the more acidic the sauerkraut turns out to be in the jar.
The intestinal flora is an extensive microcosm that colonizes your intestine. As sensitive as the intestinal flora is, it is also important for the prevention of ailments. Diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, other chronic illnesses and the maintenance of your mood depend on it.
A disturbance in this system leads to interruption of many processes in the body and it can come to extensive clinical pictures and symptoms.
On the one hand, you should always keep an eye on what you eat, on the other hand, you should always actively try to support your intestinal flora as best as possible.
If you know people who have a disturbed intestinal flora, recommend the article to others to inform them about the possibilities and causes.
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