Importance of Gut Health: What You Should Know

When your gut is healthy, so is your mind and body. You have the proper tools to fight off harmful toxins and effectively regulate your mood, appetite, and sleep. But what exactly is gut health? And what contributes to it? 

In this blog, we’ll look at the following topics on the importance of gut health:

Definition of Gut Health

The gut encompasses your gastrointestinal system (stomach, intestines, colon), including the processes of digestion and absorption of food. A well-balanced gut should have a healthy upper and lower GI tract, contributing to your body’s overall well-being.

Importance of Gut Health in Metabolism

Immune cell production is generated from the gut. These cells are key to fighting off harmful bacteria that cause diseases, infections, and imbalances in the body.

Brief Overview of the Theriome 12 Metabolic Blood Test

At Theriome, we offer a unique approach to health assessment that sets us apart from other at-home microbiome test kits. We focus on 12 essential metabolic pillars to provide a comprehensive view of your well-being. These include,

  • Liver Health
  • Gut Health
  • Cardiovascular Health
  • Inflammatory Score
  • Environmental Toxin Exposure Index
  • Neurocognitive Index
  • Nutritional Index
  • Mutation Load
  • Aging Index
  • Integumentary Health
  • Reproductive Health
  • Mitochondrial Health

For each pillar, you’ll receive your results in the form of a personalized score from 1 to 10, empowering you to take control of your health journey.

The Role of Gut Microbiome in Health

The gut microbiome, also called gut flora, is a group of microorganisms that exist in the digestive tract. When these microorganisms are out of balance, this can impact your metabolism, leading to all sorts of gastrointestinal issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and gastritis.

Composition of the Gut Microbiome

The gut is made up of several types of microbes, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. These consist of both good and bad microorganisms. The “good” microorganisms aid digestion while regulating the “bad” microorganisms.

Functions of the Gut Microbiome

The gut microbiome is responsible for several functions. It aids in food digestion, immune system regulation, protection against disease-causing bacteria, and the production of vitamin B12, thiamine, riboflavin, and vitamin K.

Digestion and Nutrient Absorption

Within the digestive tract, the small intestine absorbs nutrients from your food. At the same time, the circulatory system delivers the nutrients to other parts of the body for use or storage. The processes of the digestive system can be broken down into four main steps:

  1. Ingestion
  2. The mechanical and chemical breakdown of food
  3. Nutrient absorption
  4. Elimination of indigestible food

Immune System Regulation

The function of immune system regulation is to protect the body against internal or external threats, such as infectious diseases. Likewise, the immune system must control cells that attempt to attack the body (autoreactive T cells).

Protection Against Pathogens

Your body is designed to protect itself against disease-causing organisms (pathogens). It works to keep these harmful threats from entering your body through physical barriers such as your skin. Your body produces chemicals that destroy pathogens in areas not covered by skin. For example, your eyes contain the mucous membranes, which are bathed in tears containing the enzyme lysozyme, a bacteria-attacking chemical.

The Connection Between Gut Microbiome and Metabolism

The gut microbiome’s makeup is responsible for the metabolic activities occurring in the intestine. What this means is that if there’s an imbalance in microorganisms in the microbiome, this directly affects the metabolism’s performance.

Importance of Balance in the Gut Microbiome

Research shows that the gut microbiome influences what nutritional value the body is able to absorb from food. Balance between the microorganisms in the gut allows the body to absorb the required nutrients for optimal energy and health.

Definition of a Balanced Gut Microbiome

In an ideal gut microbiome, the microorganisms live in relative balance, a state called normobiosis. In normobiosis, the gut consists of an equilibrium of bacteria, yeast, and viruses that perform vital functions as the body provides essential nutrients.

Consequences of Imbalance (Dysbiosis)

Dysbiosis occurs when the gut microbiome is unbalanced due to one or more microorganism populations growing disproportionately. An imbalance of the gut microbiome has been linked to several physical complications, including digestive issues.

Digestive Issues

Dysbiosis can cause numerous digestive problems to arise. These typically come in the form of:

  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach
  • Bloating
  • Chest pain
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Problems with concentration
  • Rash or redness
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Vaginal or rectal itching

Weakened Immune System

An imbalance of the microorganisms in the gut directly affects immune function and can create inflammation and sensitization of the immune system, leading to autoimmune diseases.

Metabolic Disturbances

Dysbiosis disrupts chemical production in the gut due to an imbalance of microorganisms. This can lead to improper production of critical metabolic chemicals such as butyrate and propionate, while harmful substances like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide may be overproduced.

Factors Affecting the Balance of the Gut Microbiome

The gut microbiome doesn’t naturally become balanced or unbalanced. Its level of function is highly dependent on external and internal factors like your diet, lifestyle, medications you take, and the presence of any stress.

Diet

A poor diet can quickly cause bacterial imbalances in the gut. It’s vital to incorporate essential vitamins and minerals into your daily diet, including B-complex vitamins (B-6 and B-12), calcium, magnesium, beta-carotene, and zinc. Consuming too much of anything can have a negative effect on your body, so it’s important to be aware of the types of nutrients you’re either lacking or overindulging in.

Lifestyle

Each aspect of your life has the potential to impact your gut health. The following lifestyle changes can promote overall health and balance your microbiome.

  • Exercise regularly to reduce inflammation and support immune function.
  • Establish a sleep routine to increase energy and efficiency of bodily functions.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption or abstain from it entirely, as it may disrupt the equilibrium of gut bacteria.
  • Maintain a daily oral hygiene routine by brushing and flossing to prevent bacterial overgrowth in your mouth.
  • Speak with your doctor before using antibiotics.
  • Take pre- or probiotic supplements in your daily regimen to support the maintenance of your gut microbiome.

Medications

Whenever you take medication either periodically or consistently, it can affect your gut flora. For example, certain antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and laxatives can cause diarrhea, disrupting the nutrient absorption process during digestion. As a result, a harmful strain of bacteria can develop and lead to further complications. This is why speaking with your doctor before starting new medications is crucial to ensure they won’t cause imbalances.

Stress

Stress has an incredibly powerful effect on the body. It can increase cortisol, a stress hormone, and inflammation and cause changes to autonomic functions like blood pressure and bladder function. All of these work to reshape the composition of gut bacteria, leading to imbalances.

When stress becomes chronic or severe, it can heighten the permeability of the gut barrier (weakening the intestinal walls). As a result, the immune system weakens, and the bloodstream becomes more vulnerable to invading dangerous bacteria. This can lead to severe medical conditions such as sepsis.

Evaluating Gut Health

Whether you’re having unruly symptoms like ongoing diarrhea and nausea or you’re just looking for ways to enhance overall health, there are several methods to assess where your gut health is at.

Metabolic Blood Tests

Metabolic blood-based health tests provide you with abundant information about your health. By sending samples of your DNA to a lab, they’ll be able to receive a personalized report on your gut, liver, cardiovascular health, and more. 

With these insights, you can begin altering areas of your life to promote a healthier well-being. For example, if your test results show a specific nutritional deficiency, you can take supplements or incorporate food recommendations into your diet. Please note that it’s important to always consult with your doctor before taking new supplements or adjusting your diet.

Stool Tests

Another way to evaluate your gut health is through stool sampling. The test will detect bacteria, viruses, and germs that are present in the stool sample. Healthcare providers use this diagnostic tool to find the culprit of different health issues like cramping and stomach pain or to aid in diagnosing gastrointestinal diseases and other health conditions.

Symptom Analysis

Before doing blood or stool tests, your doctor may do a symptom analysis to determine whether you have an unhealthy gut. They’ll look at which manifestations you’re experiencing and help you decide where to go from there. If your doctor believes your symptoms are a result of an unhealthy gut, they’ll likely request you take a test to figure out further what’s going on internally.

A Healthy Gut is a Healthy Mind and Body

Did you know that two-thirds of people in the United States live with gut issues? If you’re experiencing painful or uncomfortable symptoms associated with your gut health, there are steps you can take to overcome these problems. Take control of your health with regular evaluations of your microbiome and pursue a healthy lifestyle.

Unlock the power of personalized metabolic insights.

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