There are multiple benefits to having a healthy, happy gut. These include obvious ones, such as “being regular” (good-bye to constipation and diarrhoea) to the less obvious, which include improved mood and better sleep. The different roles that your microbiome play in maintaining your health are many and varied. They include:
- Reducing inflammation in the gut. The scientific name is “gut dysbiosis”. There are a range of different bacteria who live in the gut, such as bifidobacteria, that produce substances known as short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which not only reinforce the gut wall but dampen down inflammation. Chronic inflammation not only causes pain and distress in the gut (such as inflammatory bowel disease), but increases your risk of things like obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Improving your mental health. Your gut and your brain are intimately connected by the vagus nerve, which the microbes can hack into. Gut bacteria also produce a range of chemicals that they use to influence your brain, from “feel good” hormones like serotonin to hunger hormones that influence how hungry you get and what you eat.