Your health is directly linked to how happy the good bacteria are in terms of your gut flora, no less. Although the microbiome of the human gut contains trillions of microorganisms — good and bad — outnumbering cells by ten to one, it only accounts for roughly one to three percent of total body mass. The importance of your gut flora and keeping the good bacteria in a state of balance is vital to no less than overall digestion, mood, immunity, brain function, sleep, and healthy homeostasis, in general.
Gut flora goes hand-in-hand with your enteric nervous system (ENS), also known as the enteric brain or second brain, which is the source of the gut feeling. Science is just beginning to understand this complex web of nerves and bacteria, sometimes referred to as the mind-gut connection or gut-brain axis. The ENS is actually two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells that line your gastrointestinal tract from the esophagus to the rectum.
The Enteric Nervous System (ENS) – Gut Flora & Gut-Brain Axis Connection
Current evidence indicates that one of the main functions of the ENS is controlling digestion. This includes swallowing, the release of enzymes that break down food, the control of blood flow that helps with nutrient absorption, and elimination. The ENS (second brain) also communicates with our main/first brain with the help of gut bacteria that produce the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). All of which play a key role in mood, including feelings of nervousness, fear, depression, and anxiety. Many antidepressant drugs affect the levels of these same compounds.
Recent studies have shown that certain probiotics (good bacteria) can positively influence gut flora, causing bacteria to increase the production of GABA, helping reduce nervousness, anxiety, fear, and depression, no less. However, this effect on the gut-brain connection is not fully understood and requires more research. The gut feeling appears to be more intuition-based, even primal.
The Gut Feeling
Butterflies in the stomach. Falling or being in love. Nervous about meeting someone for the first time. Trusting your “gut instinct” when making a difficult decision. Or “gut check time” when faced with a situation that tests your nerve and determination. These are all empirical signs of the gut feeling (fluid intelligence).
Once thought to be nothing more than metaphorical, this brain-gut axis connection is, in fact, very real. Because our brain and gut are connected by an extensive network of neurons and a highway of chemicals and hormones, we are constantly being provided with feedback about hunger, stress, if we’ve ingested a disease-causing microbe, etc.; though many of us are not consciously aware of such things. This gut-brain axis information superhighway provides regular updates on the state of affairs of your overall health.
The trick is learning how to accurately listen to, hear, and understand what your gut feeling is telling you. That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach after realizing your debt-ridden financial state and inability to pay all your bills is a vivid example of the brain-gut connection at work. You’re stressed and your gut immediately knows it.
How do you best take care of your gut flora to keep your good bacteria happy and the brain-gut axis connection healthy?
Gut Flora (Microbiome) & Good Bacteria – Healthy Diet, Exercise, & Lifestyle
As the scientific evidence and facts about gut flora and good bacteria continue to roll in, it is becoming clear that what we eat, the quality and quantity of foods in our diet, are of utmost importance. Keep refined sugar and processed, junk, and fast foods as well as poor quality fats to a minimum. Maximize your intake of whole vegetables, fruits, and lean, quality protein.
Organic is best if within your means. Moderation is the rule. Improve gut flora and good bacteria with probiotics. Foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi, sourdough bread, and some cheeses are solid choices.
Genetics carries substantial clout when it comes to which diet is best for your specific body type. Figuring out which diet is optimal for your unique body type takes time and patience. But, if done right, it will pay off when it comes to digestion, weight management, weight loss, obesity (childhood & adult), immune response, and health as a whole.
You can review the list of different possible diets here (towards the bottom of the page). If in doubt, science recommends the Blue Zone Meditteranean Diet. Moreover, getting proper weekly exercise and making consistent healthy lifestyle choices will further increase the health of your flora/gut microbiome.
How Body Type Affects The Gut Flora, Enteric Brain, & Gut Feeling
Muscle is one of the most valuable resources in terms of being the armor of the human body. Gastrointestinal imbalance has become more mainstream in recent years, including discussion relative to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease, and other such digestive unpleasantness. The scientific evidence has grown to suggest that gut flora and good bacteria are crucial players.
The Four Body Types research is starting to show that a lack of muscle/mass in the abdominal and surrounding areas, no less, also has profound negative effects on the enteric nervous system, gut flora, and gut feeling. Genetically, the more skinny fat (cellulite, thin fat, loose skin, saggy skin, crepey skin, normal weight obesity) and fat that you have on your body, the less muscles/muscle mass you have. Your metabolism as well as your ability to hold the energy and stand the heat in day-to-day life directly correlates to your body type, particularly muscle/mass in relation to skinny fat.
As our Body Type Science research continues to expand, it will be interesting to see how much a lack of muscle/mass especially affects Body Type Two (BT2), Body Type Three (BT3), and Body Type Four (BT4) people. And what advantages a Body Type One (BT1) may have, if any. Stay tuned.