(BPT) - Everyone’s heard the phrase “trust your gut” but ever wonder where the saying comes from? One could argue that it comes from an age-old belief that the gut is a powerful human function with a mind of its own. It's made up of trillions of microbes, more than 1,000 species of bacteria and millions of genes. What’s more, each person has a wholly unique gut microbiome, like a fingerprint.

The gut microbiome, like our bodies, requires regular maintenance and care. As we age, changes in our behaviors and environments impact our gut and we begin to lose the diversity of bacteria in our gut microbiome. This can result in the loss of certain normal body functions, including a healthy metabolism, glucose control and appropriate immune response. “Research has linked microbiome deficiencies to a range of diseases including diabetes, autism, depression, cardiovascular, cancer and Parkinson’s Disease,” said Jay Pasricha, MBBS, MD, Director of the John Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology.

But there is hope: new discoveries in microbiome science demonstrate that we can restore lost functionality in our bodies through new, targeted probiotic strains that are designed to repopulate and diversify the gut microbiome. Here are four reasons why you should nurture the diversity of your gut microbiome:

1. Your gut microbiome is your body’s immunity watchdog.

The gut microbiome helps regulate the immune system and maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria, which are critical to your body’s natural health, while helping to resist invading pathogens. When your system defenses need to ramp up, a short-chain fatty acid in your gut called butyrate signals your immune system. When there is not enough butyrate production in your gut microbiome, your immune system is compromised. There is some research indicating that you can increase butyrate production through a diet high in fiber or an infusion of healthy microbes.

2. A strong gut helps reduce inflammation.

Inflammation is your body’s natural way of healing from injury and protecting itself from infection or illness. The inflammatory response triggers an increase in production of white blood cells, immune cells and substances that help fight infection. However, chronic inflammation has been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, psoriasis and more. A strong gut lining ensures that small molecules don't “leak” across the gut lining into the bloodstream, which can cause heightened inflammation. Many folks don’t realize you can improve your gut microbiome and reduce inflammation through what you eat. Incorporating probiotics with “live active cultures,” such as yogurt, sourdough bread, pickles, kefir, kimchi and miso, is a great way to start. You’ll also want to get plenty of prebiotics, or foods that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, like fiber. Flaxseed, garlic, asparagus and chicory root all contain lots of prebiotics. Dietary fiber that has been fermented by the gut microbiome into butyrate has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects.

3. A healthy gut microbiome can lower blood sugar levels in people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

Studies suggest that people with a greater diversity and abundance of bacteria in their gut microbiome showed a more marked improvement in their blood sugar levels versus individuals that don’t. The findings led researchers to suggest that therapies directed at the gut microbiome, and focused on personalized nutrition, offered a new way to manage type 2 diabetes and other conditions. Recently, scientists have discovered safe and natural medical probiotics like Pendulum Glucose Control are clinically shown to lower A1C levels (by 0.6%) and blood sugar spikes (by 33%). This medical breakthrough contains targeted strains of probiotics and prebiotics to enable butyrate production and better fiber processing among people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

4. Your gut also influences mood, sleep and well-being.

Many scientists believe we have a “second brain” in our gut. This is known as the gut-brain axis, which refers to the chemical connections between your gut and your brain. The human gut actually has more than 100 million nerve cells, which is more than the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system. This explains why a disturbance in the gut microbial ecosystem could influence our mood. In fact, 90% of serotonin, or “the happy chemical,” is manufactured in the digestive tract, not the brain. There is also evidence to suggest the gut microbiome regulates sleep and circadian rhythm. We do know that sleep can affect your blood sugar levels and the reverse is also true — blood glucose control can affect overall sleep quality.

Fostering a wide variety of beneficial bacteria in your gut will not only enhance your immune system function but also lead to a variety of other health benefits. Find more information by clicking here.

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