It is funny how our bodies carry trillions of minute living creatures (or rather simple forms of life), some of which are highly beneficial to our health, whereas some of them can be harmful depending on their populations and where they are located at the moment. Well, in a nutshell, the term microbiome refers to a collection of microorganisms, mostly bacteria, and other microscopic organisms found in various parts of our bodies, in this case, the gut. The number of bacteria cells living in your body is estimated to be about 40 trillion, which by far exceeds the total number of your body cells, which is said to be roughly 30 trillion. Literally speaking, the human body is more bacteria than human.

In the human gut microbiome, there are more than 1000 different species of bacteria. The wonderful thing is that each of them plays a specific role in your body. In the gut, these microbes are mostly found in intestinal pockets such as the cecum in the large intestine lining. Most of these microscopic creatures are extremely vital as far as your health is concerned, even though some of them may cause disease when they invade sections of the gut where they’re not supposed to be or what is termed as bacterial overgrowth is experienced.

But due to poor dietary choices, medications, substance abuse, and lack of exercise, among other factors, the balance between the populations of bad bacteria and good bacteria in your gut microbiome can be affected. When this balance is disrupted complications can occur. Your body can become more prone to disease and certain crucial functions may be affected. This makes it important to find ways to maintain this healthy balance, which may include taking a gut microbiome test every once in a while.

But the big question is, is testing for gut microbiome still worth it? Well, the direct answer to this is a big YES, and below are some pointers explaining the importance of healthy gut microbiome.

It affects your digestive health

As earlier iterated, there are more than 1000 species of bacteria in your gut and some of them play critical roles as far as your digestive health is concerned. For instance, bacterial species such as Bifidobacteria plays a role in the digestion of breast milk in infants. There are also species that help in the digestion of fiber, which is really important for your gut health and may help improve heart health, prevent diabetes, and reduce the risk of cancer.

Other species such as lactobacilli are believed to help in improving the integrity of the intestinal cells and can even prevent GIT disorders such as the leaky gut syndrome. And needless to mention, we are what we eat, improved digestive health can lead to improved overall health.

However, when bacteria species from your large intestines invade the small intestines and overgrowth occurs, the balance is disrupted and this may result in GIT issues such as Irritated Bowel Syndrome. This means that to ensure that there’s a good balance in your gut microbiome and prevent this from happening, regular testing is important.

But as far as your digestive system is concerned, it doesn’t stop at testing. As much as it is important, it is important to ensure you enrich your gut with healthy bacteria such as the ones mentioned above, and you can find them in fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir as well as probiotic supplements. The article “Are Gut Microbiome Tests Accurate Or Worth It? What To Do Instead” from Microbe Formulas explains that because gut microbiome tests often focus more on what’s coming out of you than what’s actually inside of you, it is better to focus on having good health and eating foods that will feed the good microbes in your gut. This way, you can boost your gut health and enjoy more benefits like the ones that are further discussed below.

Your immunity depends on your gut health

There is evidence that gut microbes are also an important part of the immune system. They especially do so by regulating how our immune cells respond to infections, allergens, and agents of disease. Especially through bacteria from a phylum known as Firmicutes, a study found that these bacteria do so by increasing the production and availability of vitamin A, which is a huge friend of the immune system. In short, your gut microbiome also prevents you from getting sick. This has also added more inspiration as there are insights into how microbiota transfer could be used in immunotherapy in the future.

Your gut microbiome may affect your sleep

There’s also a close correlation between gut health and sleep. It has been found that gut health and sleep may affect each other in such a way that a negative impact on one may result in a similar effect on the other and vice versa. This means that if your gut population of beneficial bacteria remains optimal, it may help you sleep better at night. Furthermore, the gut microbiome is known to induce the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and melatonin, which are some of the most important neurochemicals as far as sleep is concerned.

It impacts your brain health

As mentioned in the previous pointer, certain bacteria species from your gut can help improve the production of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in your brain. Going with this example, serotonin is an antidepressant, which means your gut microbiome can help reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. Additionally, there are millions of nerves connecting the gut to the brain. It is through these nerves that processes such as peristalsis (the movement of food down and along your gut) are regulated by the CNS. Simply put your gut microbiome can have an impact on your brain health and mental function.

Gut flora can affect your weight

When the balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut is disrupted (known as dysbiosis) it could result in weight gain in some individuals. This was proven by a study that assessed the gut microbiome of twins, one whom was obese and the other one was not. The microbiota compositions from these twins were not identical and when microbes from the obese twin were injected into mice, the mice gained more weight than the mice that were injected with microbiome from the other twin. This makes gut flora testing important, and especially if you’re trying to lose weight without seeing progress. It could be due to dysbiosis, which can, fortunately, be treated with probiotics and other therapeutic treatment options.

It plays a role in heart health

For starters, health gut microbiome can promote good cholesterol and triglycerides. Also, there are certain bad bacteria species that are known to produce a substance known as trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), a chemical that is known to lead to the blockage of arteries, which increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.

In addition to the above benefits, a healthy gut microbiome can also help keep blood sugar in check and even lower the risk of diabetes. There are many more ways that a balanced gut microbiome could benefit your health. This only leads us to the one really important thing. In conclusion, testing for gut microbiome is more than just worth it.

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