Friends who live in our Gut: Gut Microbiota

Healthy adult humans each typically harbor more than 1000 species of bacteria

Most people consider microbes as germs, but truth is trillions of microbes that live in our gut execute many functional roles – aid in digestion, keep  a check on infectious agents,  boost immunity, synthesize many vitamins, play a key role in maintaining Hormone balance and Brain function.

So they are for sure our ‘Friends’

“Taking into account the major role gut microbiota plays in the normal functioning of the body and the different functions it accomplishes, experts nowadays consider it as an “organ

Quick facts about our ‘Friends’ Microbiota

  • Healthy adult humans each typically harbor more than 1000 species of bacteria 
  • Microbiota can, in total, weigh up to 2 kg
  • ‘Gut feelings’ indeed seems to be a true phrase as researchers have found connection between gut microbiome and human behavior and emotion
  • Two thirds of the gut microbiome is unique to each person, and what makes this unique is the food we eat, the air we breathe and other environmental factors.
  •  The initial composition of the gut microbiota depends on the mode of delivery: babies delivered vaginally harbour gut microbiota resembling microbial communities found in their mothers’ vaginas, whereas those born via Cesarean section apparently acquire microbes from the skin, dominated by taxa such as Propionibacterium and Staphylococcus
  • Formula fed babies have less of good microbes compared to breast fed babies, giving them a healthier edge over the other.  Gut of breastfed babies primarily consists of Bifidobacteria – considered a “friendly” bacteria that benefits the gut
  •  Infants with less diverse gut bacteria at the age of 3 months were more likely to be prone to food allergies
  • By the age of 3, microbiota becomes stable and similar to that of adults, continuing its evolution at a steadier rate throughout life
  • Researchers have found a certain strain of bacteria – Christensenellaceae minuta – that cause the animals to gain less weight, indicating the bacteria could be used to reduce or prevent obesity 
  • The predominant bacterial groups in the microbiome are gram positive Firmicutes and gram negative Bacteroidetes
  • People treated with prolonged courses of antibiotics that kill a wide spectrum of bacteria can develop life-threatening diarrhoea due to an overgrowth of Clostridium difficile

Microbiome and Disease state

Some researchers believe that up to 90 percent of all diseases can be traced in some way back to the gut and health of the microbiome : image

Each of us have a complex ecosystem of bacteria located within our gut and we call them microbiome or gut microbiota. The vast majority of the bacterial species that make up our microbiome live in our digestive systems. Some researchers believe that up to 90 percent of all diseases can be traced in some way back to the gut and health of the microbiome.  Poor gut health can contribute to leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune diseases and disorders like arthritis, dementia, heart disease, and cancer.

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Did you know that what’s going on in your Gut could affect your Brain

“Brain that stays in Gut” is giving a new dimension to our understanding of digestion, mood, health and disease onset.

Why do we stop eating food when we are full ?

Why do we feel sick or get vomiting sensation on the morning of an important exam ?

Stressed or Anxious, one feel butterflies in stomach. Feeling nervous or going through nerve wrenching moment, stomach growls and rumbles. Well – thoughts happen in brain, but stomach acts. The gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion.  Anger, anxiety, sadness, elation — all of these feelings  can trigger symptoms in the gut. It’s  just not the troubled brain can send signals to the gut, but gut too sends signal back to brain. Scientists were shocked to learn that about 90 percent of the fibers in the primary visceral nerve, the vagus, carry information from the gut to the brain and not the other way around. Vagus nerve, originates with the dorsal motor nucleus in the medulla and extends through the abdomen to the viscera.

Gut Our Second Brain

Gut Our Second Brain

Our Gut has its own branch of the nervous system called the enteric nervous system that can function on its own, even if it is disconnected from the brain. The enteric nervous system, the second brain consists of sheaths of neurons embedded in the walls of the long tube of our gut.  The second brain contains some 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system. It actually arises from the same tissues as our central nervous system (CNS) during fetal development.  The ENS supervises the processes of digestion and stays in close contact with, and is heavily influenced by, the central nervous system (the CNS) which comprises the brain and spinal cord. The ENS and CNS also use many of the same chemical messengers or neurotransmitters including acetylcholine and serotonin.

 “Brain that stays in Gut” is giving a new dimension to our understanding of digestion, mood, health and disease onset. 

” Our two brains — the one in our head and the one in our bowel — must cooperate. If they do not, then there is chaos in the gut and misery in the head — everything from “butterflies” to cramps, from diarrhea to constipation.”–  Dr. Michael Gershon

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