An unhealthy gut can do more than cause tummy troubles–when your microbiome is off your mood can be too. "Living inside every person are trillions of microorganisms- bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses-that are collectively known as the microbiome," Dr. Jessica Cho, M.D. and Integrative Medicine Specialist with Wellness at Century City tells us. She adds, "When you are healthy, your microbiome detoxifies your gut, boosts your immunity, and synthesizes specific vitamins and amino acids. Thus, several diseases including cancer, autoimmune disorders, and autism spectrum disorder-are now thought to be influenced by the gut microbiome." Recognizing the signs of a microbiome imbalance is essential to overall health and Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with experts who share what signals to look out for. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Gut Microbiome and Why It's Important
Dr. Samrat Jankar, Surgical Gastroenterologist, Gastroenterologist, Laparoscopic Surgeon and Colorectal Surgeon with Clinic Spots says, "Your gut microbiome is the collection of all the microbes (bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa) that live in your digestive tract. These microbes play a crucial role in keeping you healthy by helping to break down food, synthesize vitamins, and protect against pathogens."
How to Help Prevent an Unhealthy Gut
Dr. Jankar says, "There are several things you can do to help keep your gut microbiome healthy, including:
-Eating a diverse array of fresh fruits and vegetables
-Avoiding processed foods
-Limiting your intake of antibiotics"
Dr. Cho shares, "Environmental exposures and diet may tip the balance of your microbiome, leading to higher susceptibility to infection. Probiotics, which are foods that naturally host microbiota or supplement pills, repair your microbiome and support your digestive health."
Poor Gut Health Can Affect Your Mood
Dr. Jankar tells us, "Poor gut health has been linked to a variety of mood disorders, including anxiety and depression. This is thought to be due to the fact that the gut and brain are connected via the vagus nerve, which allows for communication between the two. Additionally, gut microbes produce neurotransmitters that can impact mood. Therefore, maintaining a healthy gut is essential for good mental health."
Dr. Cho explains, "Your microbiota influences not only the gut, but also brain function through immune and endocrine pathways and the nervous system. The gut microbiota of individuals with mood disorders contrasts significantly with that of healthy individuals because it secrets neurotransmitters and metabolites that influence our natural neurotransmitter levels, which affects behavior and mood. Poor gut health has been linked to a myriad of mood disorders, including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder."
Dr. Cho says, "Digestion issues including IBS, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, and bloating are a sign of an unhealthy gut. Simple carbs like glucose and lactose are easily absorbed by our own small intestine, but we rely on our gut microbiome to help digest more complex structures. With a malfunctioning gut microbiome, we may experience digestive problems."
According to Dr. Cho, "Autoimmune diseases such as thyroid conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes. Some microbes occupy niches in our gut that might otherwise host harmful bacteria, so without a robust microbiome, we may be more susceptible."
Unexplained Weight Gain
"Your gut microbiome influences inflammatory markers, which contributes to weight management," Dr. Cho explains.
Heavy Metal Toxicity
Dr. Cho states, "there is a bi-directional relationship between gut microbiome and heavy metal toxicity. Heavy metals may contribute to the progression of various metabolic diseases due to perturbations of the gut microbiota by altering the pH, oxidative balance, and concentrations of detoxification enzymes in heavy metal metabolism and compromised integrity of intestinal barrier."