How Healthy Is Your Gut Flora?

17 Sep How Healthy Is Your Gut Flora?

Close-up view of a woman's bare stomach that she is touching with her hands. Her gut is highlighted to signal digestive health.

Your gut flora resides in your digestive tract and is a complex system of microorganisms. Those organisms are various types of bacteria that help break down your food and help you synthesize vitamins, minerals and many other things for your health. Your gut flora composition can change over time depending on your diet and how well you take care of your body. Get an idea of how healthy your gut flora is with our help!

 

What Is Gut Flora?

Did you know that your body is swimming with organisms that either hurt your body or help it? It all depends on the substances you put into your body, your allergies and more. Your gut flora is that community of organisms that are inside your digestive system. They are sometimes referred to as “gut microbiota” or “intestinal microbiota”. All are the same organisms, and they are found throughout your entire digestive tract. These help your body metabolize nutrients from the foods you take in. They protect you from intestinal and digestive infections and inflammation. Harvard Health reports that your gut flora also help produce vitamin k, which your body needs for protein function, such as blood clotting.

 

Your gut flora is composed of many types of bacteria and microbes that can hurt or help you. When you eat unhealthy foods all the time you are likely to have more bacteria in your body that will hurt you or will lead to chronic conditions. Patients with conditions like heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis tend to have higher levels of certain gut flora bacterium that healthy individuals don’t have. Bad bacterias can multiply over time or can hinder certain body processes until you have a disease or chronic condition.

 

However, some gut flora bacteria can boost your immune system and can reduce your risk for cancers or the progression of cancer. It all depends on if you are eating healthy or not. Healthy foods packed with nutrients are likely to have better bacteria and microbes that can help your health and vice versa. The saying “you are what you eat” really is true when it comes to your gut.

 

A tablet that says "gut flora" on it with a blue background and a stethoscope laying on top of it.

Can Your Gut Flora Influence Your Weight?

Because your gut flora is directly related to your digestive system, those organisms can definitely affect your weight. In fact, there are certain bacterias that will cause people to hold onto weight more or to shed it quicker. Studies have been done in both thin and overweight people to see the types of gut flora that exist in their digestive tracts and if they differ. In overweight patients, there are more “firmicutes” in their systems, which is a type of fat-forming bacteria. The body responds to this bacteria by holding onto extra calories each day while making sure the gut flora does not diversify. In a way, it’s a bacteria that wants to keep your digestive tract stagnant instead of moving, which can make it harder to lose weight over time.

 

In thinner patients, studies found more—or a more normal level—of microbes called “bacteroidetes”. These microbes cause the opposite effect of firmicutes, which allow people to shed extra calories they don’t need. The gut flora diversify and spread out easier, helping the body to move unneeded substances throughout it.

 

Inflammation and Gut Flora

Did you know that your gut flora can also be linked to inflammation? When you have unbalanced gut flora based off of your foods, lifestyle and allergies, they can play a role in inflammation. You should actually be concerned about inflammation, as it can make your body age more quickly. This is because inflammation is an autoimmune response in your body that causes problems like swelling, as your body tries to attack a foreign substance.

 

Some chronic conditions can cause that inflammation to happen. For example, in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, their body views their joints as a foreign substance, just like a virus. The body then creates inflammation, which is a biological response to try to destroy your joints. This deteriorates the joints and the cartilage between them over time. In some cases, inflammation can try to help heal areas of the body by creating more fluid to protect injured areas while they heal. When it comes to inflammation created because of harmful gut flora, it does the opposite.

 

An example is when you eat a food that you are allergic to or intolerant to. With an allergy, your body attacks the substances that are your allergens. It can create inflammation in one area or all over, as the substance travels through your digestive tract. With a food intolerance, those food substances simply don’t mix well with your body’s gut flora. Your body doesn’t exactly try to rid if from your body, but does attack it to some degree. With a food intolerance—or a food your body doesn’t particularly like—you may get digestive upsets, heartburn, gas or other issues in your digestive tract.

 

A chalkboard drawing that shows the digestive tract with colorful bacteria and microbes in the digestive tract.

Healthy Digestive Tract

Many patients have low-grade symptoms such as fatigue, heartburn, stomach aches and more throughout the day, but they’re not quite sure why. The problem could be an allergy, intolerance, or too much unhealthy gut flora roaming around in your system. With a healthy system, you are less prone to inflammation and low-grade health problems because you have healthy gut flora making your digestive system function properly. There are some key ways you can make your gut flora healthier so it can make your digestive system work properly:

  • Get tested for food allergies and intolerances. This is something we do in-office because of how common it is in patients.
  • With chronic conditions that cause inflammation, ask about anti-inflammatory joint injections. The less inflammation you have, the longer your body tissues can thrive.
  • Eat a healthy diet packed with vitamins and minerals. Avoid too many added sugars (if possible), alcohol, tobacco use, drugs and other harmful substances for the body.

For other tips to reduce your health problems, call Mile High Spine & Pain Center today at (720) 507-0080!



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