When someone says the word bacteria, you wouldn’t be blamed for automatically picturing organisms that make you sick and ruin your day – but this isn’t always the case.
There are so many different types of bacteria and some can actually be of benefit to you.
Consider your gut for example, there are trillions of different types of bacteria living within you and they have an extremely critical role.
This bacteria helps our bodies to operate as usual and continue going healthily.
In fact, some studies have suggested that a poor balance of gut bacteria may lead to a greater risk of conditions such as diabetes, colon cancer, depression and anxiety and of course, obesity.
Due to its complexity, bacteria in your colon can be very confusing – so we’ve decided to write this helpful guide explaining everything you need to know about bacteria and your colon.
Read on for more.
What Do We Mean By Colon Bacteria?
We’ve used some terms interchangeably above, but we’re going to clarify what we mean and where this guide is heading.
You may have heard the phrase “gut bacteria” before, perhaps on commercials or on health products.
”Gut” is a broad umbrella term for many different facets within the digestive system, including the colon.
So, for the purposes of this guide – we may refer to our subject as “gut bacteria”.
Okay – But What Are Gut Bacteria?
Within your gut, you have about 500 different kinds of bacteria with millions of different genes. When these are joined with organisms like fungi or a virus, you end up with your microbiome.
Every person’s microbiome is unique. Think of it like our gut’s version of a fingerprint.
The microbiome is slightly determined by our parents, but the majority of the makeup comes from our health – such as diet and exercise, and exposure to other viruses.
Whilst bacteria live throughout our bodies, the bacteria in our gut plays perhaps the biggest role in our lives – and the vast majority of bacteria in the gut lives in the colon and intestines.
This bacteria can be a huge factor in our everyday lives including affecting our mood and metabolism – whilst also contributing to our immune system.
Your Gut’s Bacteria And Disease
Having a healthy balance of gut bacteria is very important. In fact, research suggests that people who have very serious conditions have different gut bacteria than those who are completely healthy.
Whilst gut bacteria can be beneficial in the fight against certain illnesses, there are some that might play an opposing role – making you feel worse or not fighting against the illness whatsoever.
Along with this, and as we previously mentioned – as good bacteria can affect your metabolism in a good way – poor gut bacteria can contribute to conditions like:
- Poor blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
Having a good balance is critical with gut bacteria. Having too much gut bacteria can cause fiber to transpose into fatty acids which are then stored in your liver, which can lead to numerous complications.
Poor gut bacteria can also lead to digestive conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Whilst it is not specifically confirmed why this happens, scientists theorize that the gut bacteria contains less anti-inflammatory bacteria – causing an attack on the intestines.
This may also be why it is possible for those with a poor bacterial imbalance to develop arthritis due to a lack of anti-inflammatory bacteria.
Because of the connection between our gut and our brain, medical professionals may often refer to it as the gut/brain axis.
This is because the health of your gut may play a role in how mentally well you are.
What we mean by this is the suggestion that those with poor gut bacteria that develop conditions may also develop things like depression and anxiety, or at least contribute towards it.
There is also some evidence that your gut bacteria may play a role in whether or not you are on the autistic spectrum – although more studies are needed to corroborate this.
Gut Bacteria And You – What To Do
Perhaps the most important thing anybody can do to promote a healthy gut is to live a healthy life. This means having a good, balanced diet and plenty of exercise.
It’s important to get a balance of bacteria in your gut and the way to do this is to promote diversity and variation within the gut.
You can do this by eating a wide variety of good foods and avoid sticking with high fat and high sugar which is often referred to as a “Western diet”. It kills off some bacteria and does not promote diversity.
Speaking of eradicating good bacteria, never take antibiotics if you do not need to and you have not been advised to. Antibiotics are there for the treatment of bad bacteria but can also kill good bacteria.
So, unless your doctor has told you to – do not take antibiotics.
If you can, try to get as much exercise as possible. This can encourage the growth and variety of bacteria in the gut.
You may have seen probiotics in the form of pills, gels or in things like yogurts. Whilst they may be able to play a helping hand with your microbiome, they cannot do everything.
Therefore, you need to make sure that you are doing the basics first. Get a good, balanced diet and plenty of exercise and remain hydrated.
If you do all this and then consume things like probiotic yogurt, you may be able to promote the boost of a healthy gut with balanced, varied bacteria.
The Bottom Line
Bacteria in your colon is nothing to worry about, but the management of it should be respected by looking after yourself with a good diet and exercise.
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