The digestive system is a complex interplay of several organs working in harmony, extracting every last usable bit of energy, nutrient, and mineral from whatever it is provided with. This makes humans one of the most efficient machines ever. You can eat seafood, meat, sandwich, dairy, veggies, and still worry about that job interview. It is a pity how picky our cars are. Our digestive system deserves due credit for evolution.
The Synergy of the Immune System and Digestion
Nonetheless, as glorified we are showing the digestive system to be, it falls short in many aspects. The immense complexity leaves it vulnerable to a plethora of pathogens. Mouth alone has uncountable diseases. Next is the liver, stomach, pancreas, intestine, and the colon. Like a factory, if any single component in the chain is disrupted, the whole processing unit gets affected. There is a lot of stuff in our foods which is not digestible. In order to learn more about the health of your digestive system, please visit https://www.digestivecenter.com/.
Gut Microbiome: An Overview
Thanks to the gut microbiome, most of it is broken down into usable short-chain fatty acids. The microbiome is a collection of trillions of ‘good’ bacteria that live inside a human body. Each individual has a different microbiome than the other. It starts when a human is born and gets established in the first two years of his life. Ever seen someone shun your favorite food? As infuriating it might be, it is their gut flora that speaks for them.
Role of Gut Microbiome in the Digestive Process
As special as our digestive system is, the microbiome is no less. The most important function that it serves is to protect against harmful bacteria that slip in through the food. The gut bacteria regulate and maintain the immune system, and produce some important nutrients as well. It is not wrong to call microbiome yet another organ of this complex system.
How To Take Care of Your Gut Microbiome?
The microbiome does not remain fixed and is subject to diet, medication, and lifestyle. If you eat a lot of sugar, sugar-loving bacteria will thrive. If you do not eat starch, the starch-loving bacteria will decimate, and so on. A healthy digestive system necessitates microbiome diversity. Fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, red-wine, dark-chocolate promote diversity.
Dietary fibers are believed to be the best fuels for gut bacteria. Bacteria digest fibers to form short-chain fatty acids which our digestive track picks up easily. Fibers also prevent gut-inflammation, thereby decreasing the likelihood of colon cancer. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, etc. are rich in fibers. Fermented foods such as yogurt, cheese, wine, kimchi, help introduce probiotics- the ‘good bacteria’, such as yeast, or lactobacillus into the body.
Foods That Promote Bad Bacteria
On the other hand, low fiber, high dairy fat, or processed food discourage diversity. This promotes the fat-loving bacteria and starves the ‘good’ ones, who might resort to feeding on the mucous lining, thereby leading to the ulcer. Also, the more processed the food is, the less useful stuff remains, making raw, sauté, or steamed vegetables more nutritious. So, eat your veggies!
Digestion Causes Anxiety
Digestion is directly linked to anxiety, which frankly, we all have experienced. The microbiome produces 90% of serotonin, an important messenger substance between neurons, thereby directly tapping into the nervous system. Studies have linked microbiome to depression, the synaptic connectivity, and even intelligence- correlating healthy microbiome to better motor and language skills. Other studies have also linked microbiome to autism, schizophrenia, cancer, etc. The earliest symptom of Parkinson’s disease is a gut problem. Digestion is directly responsible for maintaining the bones, by promoting bone-homeostasis. Digestion controls the skin-health as well. In short, you really are what you digest.