Microorganisms in the gut play a very important role in our health. It’s functions include communicating with the immune system, preventing growth of harmful species, synthesizing vitamins such as biotin and Vitamin K, and producing hormones that effect the storage of fats.
This articles addresses a few specific benefits such as preventing obesity and how bacteria effects mood.
Altering gut microbes can improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. Treatment especially with Bifidobacter species and Saccharomyces boulardii probiotics have shown less extraction of calories from food which means better weight control. In one study, mice were genetically engineered without their own gut bacteria and instead half were given bacteria from obese humans and the other half received gut bacteria from thin people. The mice with obese bacteria gained more weight indicating how these microbes effect the physical and metabolic traits of their owners.
As far as mood is concerned, we need to realize that our gut is considered our “second brain”. There is more serotonin in our gut than our brain, which makes it such an emotional center. Some of you may notice that when you’re anxious, you may feel nauseas, queasy or have diarrhea. High levels of Cortisol (stress hormone) irritate our gut and inflame the brain. Certain species of gut bacteria (Lactobacillus Rhamnosus) acts on our central nervous system that can calm our emotions.
We will be hearing a lot more about the importance of the trillions of bacteria in our gut and how its own genome can prevent (and maybe even treat) disease. Not sure if bacteria transplants will be the norm, but identifying each persons unique bacterial make-up will soon be common testing along side checking you cholesterol.