Gut Microbial Dysbiosis and Health
Tiana Thich, HK BioTek Intern
The gut is one of the most essential parts of the human body. It contains more than 70% of microbes that help our body function and has the most diversity of microbes that all have different functions. The largest number of bacteria that can be found in the gut are contained in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and these bacteria directly affect what happens in the colon and the body as a whole. Every human microbiota has a unique composition of microbes unique to them and therefore a “healthy” adult intestine can be relative to each person. These microbes all work to protect their host from pathogens that might harm the body, control metabolic functions, and stimulate the immune system to release inflammatory responses when necessary. Dysbiosis is defined as a microbe imbalance in the human body that can be due to overgrowth, microbe impairment, or any other factor that may significantly change microbe composition. Any deviation in the gut microbiota from the healthy baseline can result in significant health effects that are symptomatic and can last a lifetime, so it is important to understand the gut and its impact on human health.
The gut carries one of the most diverse populations of microbes in the human body. However, there are several types of bacteria that stand out in that they are commonly found in larger proportions in healthy adult intestinal microbiota. Bacteria of the phyla Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes tend to dominate the microbiota landscape in the gut and this is found to be characteristic of many healthy gut microbiomes. Since the balance of the gut microbiota is essential in ensuring the immune system stays healthy, it is important that the microbiome composition is kept stable to prevent dysbiosis and possible destruction of these mutualistic relationships.
In the event of gut dysbiosis, your gut and your body as a whole can easily become prone to disease. Gut inflammation can lead to autoimmune and auto inflammatory disorders such as allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, and even obesity. Additionally, dysbiosis of gut microbiota can lead to increased mucus intestinal lining permeability which introduces not fully digested food particles into the blood circulation and ultimately flares up the immune system. Diet and lifestyle choices are the biggest factor in maintaining a healthy gut and avoiding dysbiosis. Some recommendations on how to promote and improve digestive health are to focus your diet on fibrous vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and unprocessed meats. It is important to avoid junk food, alcohol, refined oils and alcohol because these tend to inhibit the growth of healthy gut bacteria and lead to gut dysbiosis. Additionally, it may be helpful to cut out foods containing gluten in order to further relieve symptoms of gut inflammation.
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