“Trust your gut.”
How many times have you heard that? Or said that? How often do you think, “My gut says, yes” or “I know in my gut, it’s wrong.”
As it turns out, you’re not just being philosophical – your gut is a complex, living organism that shifts and changes throughout your life. It evolves as you do and plays a significant role in your health and happiness.
What’s In Your Gut?
From the time we are born, we’re exposed to microbes in the form of bacteria, funghi, viruses, and other single-cell organisms. All these microbes together comprise our microbiomes – aka our “guts.” The microbes in our guts are responsible for programming our immune systems, providing nutrients for our cells, and preventing colonization by harmful bacteria and viruses. In infants, microbiomes allow for the breakdown of breastmilk.
We’re initially exposed to these microbiomes in the birth canal (which is likely why babies born from cesarian section are more likely to suffer from asthma and type 1 diabetes), and we are continually exposed to microbiomes throughout our lives in the form of our diets, our environment, our exposure to toxins, and more.
Why Does Your Microbiome Matter?
Your microbiome determines how you relate to your surroundings, how you digest and ultimately benefit from food, how you heal, what illnesses you develop, and so on. Your microbiome is unique to you. Even if you share an environment and a diet with someone close to you, your microbiomes will look completely different.
This explains why people respond so differently to different foods – and this goes beyond food allergies. According to Rob Knight, professor of pediatrics, computer science, and engineering at the University of California San Diego and an expert on the human microbiome, microbiome variability can explain whether tomatoes are good or bad for you and whether rice is good for you or worse for you than ice cream.
Your Microbiome is Connected to Your Resilience
One of the most fascinating things about the gut is that it creates an axis with both your brain and your lungs. Your brain influences your gut, but your gut also influences your brain. Your gut influences your lungs, and your lungs also influence your gut. Recently, researchers have linked gut health to the psychological qualities of resilience. This gives new meaning to your gut being referred to as your second brain. It also explains why gut health is essential to respiratory health.
>>> Dr. Brown explains the complicated relationship between the gut and brain on this week’s episode of The Aligned Life with Pam Brown podcast. Click to listen.
How Does All This Impact You?
The biggest takeaway from this knowledge is that we should all do what we can to keep our microbiome healthy. This means eating a diet as free of toxins as possible and embracing probiotics and prebiotics. Prebiotics are substances on which useful microbes can thrive, and probiotics are the beneficial microbes themselves. Prebiotics are found in many foods. Although you can find probiotics in your local grocery store, quality is essential when purchasing these supplements. We recommend that you go with brands that research, test and assay. Quality varies widely with probiotics and you really do get what you pay for with these. Here are our recommendations.