You are with them every day. You carry them with you everywhere you go. You are even responsible for feeding them and how happy they are.
Yes, we are talking about your gut bugs! The community of microbes that reside in your gut do so many jobs for us. Here are five fast facts about how they help us, and most importantly how we can help them!
Your Microbes Regulate Sex Hormones
Our gut microbes are essential in regulating our sex hormones that control ovulation. The metabolic activity of your microbes can increase or decrease circulating concentrations of oestrogen.
If our gut microbiota are out of balance they can wreak havoc on androgen levels, elevating testosterone in conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Imbalances can also drive increases in oestrogen impacting endometriosis.
In women with irregular menstrual cycles there are distinct differences in the populations living in the gut.
While directly impacting sex hormones, the gut can also impact ovulation through other pathways. A healthy diverse gut has been shown to increase sensitivity to the hormone insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar but is also essential for ovulation.
Microbes are in Charge of your Immunity
Are you often sick, fatigued or stressed? These can be signs that your immune system is not firing on all cylinders.
Our gut microbes are critical to healthy immune function so it’s no surprise that when our gut is out of balance, our immune defences suffer. Did you know our gut houses over 70% of our immune cells?!
If your gut microbes are out of balance for a long time, this has even been associated with the development of autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and systemic lupus erythematosus.
A healthy gut can help reduce infections and keep your immune system in check so it is ready unleash its anti-inflammatory defences.
Mood and Microbes go Hand in Hand.
One important job of our gut microbes is to produce neurotransmitters such as GABA, which are essential for mood. Beneficial bacteria can calm the mind and lower levels of stress hormones.
In conditions where the gut microbiome is disrupted such as with endometriosis, PCOS and infertility, there is a greater risk of anxiety. Adding certain foods to your diet can be a great step to nurturing your gut health for total wellbeing.
The More the Better
Lack of microbes or a lack of diversity of the community living in your gut is associated with impacts upon reproductive health and fertility.
Reductions in a healthy gut ecosystem are associated with PCOS, endometriosis, unexplained infertility, and male factor infertility. Increasing the diversity of your gut microbes has been shown to lower testosterone levels in women, restore ovulation, dampen oestrogen and lower inflammation.
Each individual’s gut community is almost as individual as a fingerprint. Promoting the growth of the beneficial microbes you already have on board will increase your gut diversity so you can reap all the benefits.
Not all Fibre is Created Equal
Your gut microbes love to be fed. You may have heard that they love fibre but, not all fibre is created equal. Some types of fibre won’t promote the growth of your beneficial microbes. Other types of fibres that are prebiotic though will provide your gut microbes with the microbiota accessible carbohydrates they need to thrive.
A healthy, diverse gut microbiome is proven to lower inflammation, balance hormones and boost metabolism bringing you optimal reproductive health. You also get the bonus of improved fertility, better skin and better mood!
Have you fed your gut microbes today?