Perhaps the most exciting research in the field of health today concerns the bacteria that line our digestive tract. In fact, we have about ten times as many bacterial cells in the body as human cells! So, are we mostly human or mostly bacteria?
No doubt we carry way more bacterial DNA around with us than human DNA. While less than one percent of these bugs are bad for us, the rest are essential to human life and optimal health.
The intestinal tract has recently been dubbed the second brain, but that may have been an understatement. Today, experts believe we are at about kindergarten level when it comes to understanding the microbiology of the gut.
Here are a few research snippets to whet your appetite for much more gut-bug info to come:
1) According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, a higher amount of certain beneficial gut bacteria were found in the digestive tracts of thin mice than in that of mice that were overweight.
2) Research in the January 2013 issue of Science indicated that certain good gut bacteria can balance the absorption of unhealthy sugars into the blood stream.
3) A Norwegian study in PLOS Computational Biology shows that certain good gut bacteria are responsible for healthy growth rates in babies.
4) Research published in Science Translational Medicine took gut bacteria from mice that had gastric bypass surgery and implanted it into other obese mice. The obese mice started to lose weight due to the growth of new healthy bacteria that the gastric bypass had apparently somehow facilitated.
5) Research is pointing to the fact that the villi of the gut are actually environmental and emotional feelers that help us cope, adapt and genetically evolve to our ever-changing world.
Interestingly, Ayurveda maintains that 85% of the body’s overall health depends on the digestive tract. It is the seat of the mind, emotions, physical health, and the body’s ability to detoxify. For optimal health and longevity, I am putting most of my eggs in the digestive health basket.