We don’t often think about what is inside our gut, but there is growing scientific evidence suggesting that good gut bacteria – or gut flora health – is paramount to a healthy life. Collectively known as microbiota, they impact everything from metabolism and sleep regulation, to mood and the immune system. And since these microbiota are a key to health, they represent a whole new medical frontier. That is why it is so important to understand how to restore healthy gut flora.
For too long the word “bacteria” has had negative connotations. But thanks to science, we have a better understanding of the importance of gut health. Now we know that gut bacteria and health go hand in hand.
What is Gut Flora and the Importance of Gut Health
Gut flora is a scientific term that is used to describe the bacteria (or microorganisms) that exist within the human body in our intestines. These microorganisms, which are primarily bacteria, populate our digestive track. Scientists and medical professionals are increasingly examining the link between proper gut flora balance and our health, especially in relation to disease vulnerability.
The resulting data is showing that a person’s diet and genetic background, as well as other factors (drugs, pesticides, pollutants), link directly to the metabolic performance of the gut flora. This metabolic performance, in turn, impacts health. And the number of animal- and human studies that shed light on the impact of gut flora on human health is increasing.
Gut Bacteria and How to Restore Healthy Gut Flora
Gut flora is essential to proper metabolism and the prevention of disease. More bacteria are living in your body than there are human cells, and they weigh as much as three pounds, approximately equivalent to the weight of the brain. These thousand species of bacteria each play a different role in your body. They act like a completely different organ and play a crucial role in regulating health outcomes.
From our birth, the gut flora begins to affect our body as microbes pass through the mother’s birth canal. As our body ages, the microbiome diversifies and evolves into many different types of species. The larger the diversity of gut flora, the better it is generally for your health. Also, many of our most essential functions are regulated by it, including fiber digestion, an active immune system, and brain health. Recent research also highlights that an overabundance of different bad metabolites is a direct link to disease and weight gain.
The Growing Business of Making Drugs from the Gut Flora
Because of the growing understanding of the importance of gut health, many established businesses and start-ups are focusing on new therapies based on microbes. After all, if gut bacteria and health go hand in hand, then illness prevention and treatment can’t be too far behind.
One of these companies exploring the space is Cambridge, MA-based Seres Therapeutics. The company is researching and building a new class of medicine that utilizes live bacteria to treat disease. They believe that by focusing on the functional deficiencies in the microbiome, a condition known as dysbiosis, they can pinpoint functional differences and create new Ecobiotic drugs.
Another company, Viome, is using technology developed by the Los Alamos National Lab to identify the strains and species of gut flora. They believe there is no one-size-fits-all diet for each person’s good health. Viome offers an in-home kit that collects samples which are analyzed to determine the nutrients and toxins in your body. The company then uses artificial intelligence to recommend the right food mix for an individual based on their specific needs. The goal is to be able to prevent disease through the adoption of a personalized nutritional plan that is based on deep molecular analysis. They are employing a subscription-based service model and they soon will be offering a complete diagnostics service.
Want to know how to restore healthy gut flora? Viome is figuring that out.
The Importance of Gut Bacteria and Health… And Diet
Society is entering a new era where we can increasingly modify health through gut flora. And this is especially true via the food that we eat. New scientific breakthroughs can measure the effects through our gut bacteria.
But the flipside to the diet aspect is the adverse effects caused by drugs, pesticides, and processed food ingredients. Their impact on gut bacteria and health are becoming clearer. A strong microbiota full of good bacteria is paramount to a more enriched life. Of course, a person can’t take probiotics to halt diabetes or treat cancer. But leading experts, like Seres Therapeutics and Viome, are providing the research needed to determine the precise types of microbiomes that may lead to or prevent specific ailments.
If you are what you eat, then being well means more than just eating healthy. It means eating healthy for your gut.
In our series on gut bacteria and health, Bold Business will be covering topics ranging from the impact on diabetes, Alzheimers, and cancer to causes of poor gut flora.