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Gut Bacteria Can Have An Impact On Your Brain: Here's How To Develop Healthy Microbiome

Gut bacteria can have a bad impact on your brain health. Here are some expert-approved tips to manage it.

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : August 30, 2022 10:42 AM IST

Many times we mention gut feeling, but is there more to the gut than digestion? Our gut has 10 trillion gut microbes, which are too small to be seen by the naked eye. These are bacteria, archaea, protozoa, algae, and fungi. These microbes are 10 times the number of cells in an average human body and the total weight of these microbes is around 1 to 2 kg. Here, it must be mentioned that this microbiome is there not only in your gut, but also exist on skin surfaces, mouth, nasal passages and some organs like the reproductive organs. They have a reciprocal relationship with us, we feed them, and they help manage our metabolism.

There is always a dynamic relationship between humans and the microbiota. Gut microbiota changes in many diseases and research is still on to confirm whether it is a cause or effect. But experts have found out that, either way, we need these organisms for staying healthy and disease free.

Impact Of Gut Microbiota On Metabolism, Brain

Humans have a Gut-Brain Axis and there is a bidirectional relationship between them. This is especially vital in children as the right microbiome facilitates optimal brain growth and functioning. This is also important in adults to a lesser extent.

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How does it begin? A newly born baby does not have its microbiome at birth, though a few new research suggest that there may be a few species in the placenta. The newborn baby gets its initial dose from a mother's vaginal passage. The next dose of gut bacteria comes from breast milk, which has as many as 600 different species of bacteria. These bacteria feed on and digest the oligosaccharides in breast milk. Babies who are not breastfed have a different gut microbiome profile or operational taxonomic unit composition. By the age of 3 to 4 years, the gut microbiome, which is different for everyone, is formed and it resembles that of an adult. There are variations which happen with lifestyle choices and antibiotic use, but majorly the microbiome signature is ready by then. The natural progression is that it remains mostly the same till old age, where there are some correlations between frailty and gut microbiota.

Developing A Healthy Microbiome

Diet is one of the most important influencers. A diet rich in whole foods with plenty of fibre means a healthier gut. On the other hand, decreased diversity of GM is associated with obesity, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and certain malignancies. Other factors which have a significant impact on gut bacteria are -

  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Stress physiological or psychological
  • Drugs like anti-acidity medications and antibiotics.

Dangers of dysbiosis

Dysbiosis or imbalance in the optimal gut microbiome has been linked with diseases like

What You Can Do About It?

Here are a few things you can do to boost your beneficial gut organisms

  • Avoid a high protein diet and go in for more plant proteins
  • A low-fat diet is good
  • Go for unsaturated fats (Saturated fats should be taken in low quantity)
  • Have more fibre-rich foods like whole grains
  • Add resistant starches to your diet
  • Fermented foods like yoghurt are good
  • Eat more polyphenol-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, seeds, tea and cocoa products
  • Exercise regularly
  • Sleep for 7-8 hours sleep every night
  • Manage your stress
  • Avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics/anti-acidity medications

(This article is authored by Dr Anjali Nakra, Lifestyle Medicine Physician and Founder, Path to Health clinic)

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