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10 Reasons You Should Care About What’s In Your Gut

Bacteria living in and on the human body is one of those disgusting facts that we all try to forget, but science is showing that if we want to obtain optimal health, we humans really should think about our microscopic partners in this life.

1. You are more bacteria than human.

Human cells account for just 10 percent of the cellular matter of the animals we call humans. The other 90% are bacterial cells that live on or in our bodies. To give you an idea of the numbers we’re talking about here, it is estimated that the human body is made of about ten trillion cells, but there are 100 trillion bacteria in your body. Theses bacteria cells provide important functions for us – things like digesting food, synthesizing vitamins, and strengthening our immune system. Without our bacteria, we could not exist. The entire number of bacterial cells in the human body is referred to by scientists as the microbiome, and it might very well be the single most important factor in human health. Your microbiome effects everything about you, from your cancer risk, to how you digest and assimilate food, and even your personality, thoughts, and behaviors.

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2. The most important bacteria is what you get when your are born.

You get your bacteria in many ways, but the most important is through vaginal birth and breastfeeding. The uterus is sterile, but when baby enters the world through the birth canal, he/she picks up important bacteria on the skin, through mouth, eyes, and skin. This seeder bacteria from mom grows and colonizes in and on the baby. The bacteria is reinforced when baby is held skin-to-skin and breastfed. Scientists have learned that babies born through Cesarean section don’t develop healthy combinations of bacteria. This lack of balanced bacteria colonization effects the child’s health for their entire life. Some hospitals are experimenting with soaking gauze in the mother’s vagina for the hour before scheduled Cesarean births. In the moments after birth, the gauze is rubbed over baby’s face, eyes, and body to mimic the bacteria exposure of a natural birth. It will be several years before scientists know if this process helps reduce health risks from poor bacteria exposure at birth.

3. Gut bacteria make vitamins your body needs.

Not all vitamin deficiencies are diet related; many are related to an unbalanced gut microbiome. Scientists have learned that many of the vitamins used by the human body are actually synthesized by bacteria in the intestines. For example Bacillus subtilis and Escherichia coli (yes, that’s E coli), synthesize Vitamin K. E coli also makes the important B vitamins – Biotin, Riboflavin, Thiamine, and Nicotinic Acid. It’s important to remember that many bacteria, including E coli have many strains, and while one strain of a particular bacteria is harmful to humans many other strains of the same bacteria can be helpful. Notice Vitamin K is synthesized by bacteria in the intestines. Also recall that babies have a sterile digestive tract until the moment they begin the trek through the birth canal. This is why doctors believe newborns need a shot of Vitamin K at birth. Newborns don’t yet have an established colony of the Vitamin K making gut bacteria.

4. Gut Bacteria and Autism Are Linked

Scientists at Arizona State University, in Tempe, Arizona are studying the correlation between Autism and gut bacteria. They’ve learned that people with Autism typically have different gut bacteria, and in different ratios than people without Autism. In many cases the people with Autism are missing hundreds of beneficial bacterial strains that are found in the guts of neurotypical people. Researchers are not yet saying that these gut bacteria differences actually cause the neurological differences seen in people on the Autism Spectrum, but they are using a relatively new treatment called fecal transplant (also called Beneficial Bacteria Transfer or BBT) to repopulate the guts of people with Autism who also suffer from gastrointestinal distress. In the lab, researchers have been able to actually give neurotypical mice Autism-like symptoms by changing their gut microbes. When the gut microbiome was restored, the mice returned to neurotypical behavior. Similarly, researches were able to induce an Autism-like condition in newborn mice by altering the gut microbiome for the pregnant mother mouse…


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