The gut is crucial for immunological health because the gut wall acts as a barrier to keep viruses, fungus, and “bad” bacteria out of the bloodstream. Unfortunately, this defence can occasionally become permeable, known medically as “gastrointestinal disorder,” allowing pathogens to get through and sicken individuals. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and celiac disease are a few conditions that can increase a person’s risk of developing gut permeability, which increases their vulnerability to illness or infection entering the body this way. According to research, gut health also influences mental health, which is why most individuals have their emotional experiences linked to their gut. The neurological system can be stimulated by gut bacteria, which communicates with the brain through the Vagus nerve. They have the ability to release hormones that are identical to those that humans own systems produce, which despite their small size, have a significant influence on the human bodies and decision making. The gut-brain axis refers to this communication between the gut and the brain. Since many of these bacteria are hormone-sensitive, stress may also influence them, which could result in an imbalance.
Eating the right foods is one of the best ways. Your gut microbes like to eat, too, and their favorite foods are the ones that are healthiest for us: fruits, vegetables (especially dark, leafy greens), legumes (beans, peas), and whole grains (quinoa, whole wheat, brown rice). “Those foods contain fiber. Our bodies don’t break down fiber for food; fiber passes through to the gut and microbes feed on it. It gives them a good environment to grow,” explains April Pawluk, strategic program manager at the Harvard Chan Microbiome in Public Health Center. But when you eat an unhealthy diet with lots of processed, fatty, sugary foods, it makes it harder for helpful microbes to survive. “In the absence of diversity-promoting nutrients like fiber in our diets, the genes of our gut microbiome can produce chemicals that could increase our risk for developing different diseases,” Pawluk says.