Dr Sugata Pyne (Manager, Smart Metabolic Anti-Aging centre)
“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates
Growing up in India, we have all been subject to platitudes like “take care of your stomach” from grandparents that often went unheeded because modern education taught us that the human gut does little more than the digestion and absorption of food,
But modern science – like us – has evolved, and previously unknown facts have over the years surfaced. Each of which lend an increasing significance to the human gut. Now called the “second brain”, the human gut houses more than 100 million neurons and healthy bacteria also known as the ‘microbiome’. These play a significant role not in the development and mitigation of chronic diseases but can also alter the way we feel and think.
Gut microbiota are influenced by diet, hygiene factors, stress, GI disorders, sex hormone effects, medications like antibiotics etc. and is directly linked to the level of inflammation in your body. Inflammation, more commonly known as ‘bloating’ is a common condition that goes largely ignored due to its ubiquity. It takes a deteriorating gut microbiome to convert ‘bloating’ into ‘inflammation’ and ‘inflammation’ into chronic disease like, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, liver cancer, colon cancer, IBS, rheumatoid Arthritis, stomach cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, psychiatric disorders, anxiety, autism etc.
As per a published study, a bacterium called Akkermania Muciniphilia which resides in the GI tract of humans and animals has been linked to improved intestinal health and metabolic status in obese and T2DM patients.
Your gut also plays a significant role in how you feel and think – gut microbiota produces more than 50% of dopamine found in the human body and 90% of serotonin. These two neurotransmitters can drastically affect the mood, happiness and pleasure of an individual. They also manipulate our cravings and eating behaviour.
Craving Sugar? Blame the bacteria!
Bacteria living in the human gut are determined by the diet we consume. These bacteria have the power to send signals to the brain to keep eating the foods they love. Some scientists have suggested that treatment with probiotics or faecal transplant can be an effective therapy to over eating by getting rid of certain bacteria that generate intense craving for high carb diets. At any rate, the use and consumption of pro biotics can be highly beneficial for the human gut:
- Stimulates immunity.
- Better lactose tolerance and digestion
- Positive influence on intestinal microflora
- Reduction of intestinal pH
- Improvement of intestinal functioning
- Reduction in cholesterol
- Reduction of ammonia and other toxic chemicals in the gut
- Production of B vitamins (folic acid)
- Treatment and prevention of acute diarrhoea by rotavirus
While the significance of probiotics is being acknowledged and transalted into increase in probiotic sales across the globe, one needs to be wary of picking the right one. The selection of the right strain is vital. Studies have shown consuming a probiotic about 30 minutes before a meal has a marginally better effect than during or after a meal and Milk appears to protect probiotics better than juice or water.