Gut Bacteria Is Important to Our Health

Every person’s stomach is home to hundreds of millions of microbes, which play a prominent role in mood, motivation and health. Recent research paints a clear picture of how important our gut microbiota is to our overall health and happiness. (i).

Here are a few interesting facts about gut bacteria and its link to our health and wellbeing.

What are gut bacteria?

Each person’s gut contains between 300 and 500 different types of bacteria. Microscopic organisms, including bacteria, fungi and viruses, form the gut microbiome.

Everybody has their own unique microbiota. Similar to your fingerprint, the makeup of bacteria is completely different from person to person. Your microbiome was formed by several factors. These include your mother’s microbiota, your environment, diet and lifestyle. (ii)

Bacteria can be found all over the body. Still, the bacteria found in your digestive system have the most significant impact on your health and wellbeing.

The gut-brain axis

Our brains are in close communication with the bacteria in our digestive tracts (gut microbiota.) The two-way communication between our brains and the gut is called ‘the gut-brain-axis.’

Recent evidence has found a link between gut microbiota and diseases. Inflammation and low levels of good bacteria in the gut may lead to several mental illnesses, including anxiety and depression. (iii)

Scientists in several studies noticed that probiotics can restore the balance of good bacteria in the stomach, reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Probiotics encourage the growth of good microorganisms. In some cases, probiotics such as yoghurt were as effective as conventional medications for combating depression and feelings of low mood. (iv) (v)

There is more biodiversity in the gut than in a rainforest
Gut microbiota is made up of trillions of different microbes, making up a complex ecological community that rivals the biodiversity of a rainforest. (vi)

Researchers believe that learning more about microorganisms’ different types and abilities will benefit everybody. As knowledge of microbiota grows, new treatments can be made to improve our overall health.                                                                   

Your gut microbiome works as a second brain

In recent years, scientists have learned that the gut microbiome affects mood, motivation and happiness. The bacteria in the stomach make up to 90% of our body’s serotonin, which regulates our mood. (vii)

The bacteria in our gut help to digest food, breaking it down into metabolites. Some of the metabolites include short-chain fatty acids. The short-chain fatty acids are detected by the vagus nerve, which sends the information to the brain. Once the brain receives this information, it can regulate the process of digestion. The vagus nerve acts as the phone line that keeps the brain and gut bacteria in constant contact.

Antibiotics can throw everything into chaos

Antibiotics are supposed to get rid of harmful bacteria from your body. Unfortunately, they can also have a huge, negative impact on the composition of your microbiota. Dysbiosis happens when the microbiota of your gut is thrown out of balance. (viii)

Dysbiosis can have unpleasant short and long-term effects on your overall health. This is because your gut microbiota regulates your mood, metabolism and immune system.

Prebiotics can help to offset the damage caused by antibiotics to beneficial gut bacteria. Prebiotics are found in plant-based foods and are known to nourish gut bacteria. Garlic, barley, berries, mushrooms and green bananas are all excellent sources of prebiotics.                                                                                                                  

Written by Joseph Forsyth


  1. Valles-Colomer, M., Falony, G., Darzi, Y., Tigchelaar, E.F., Wang, J., Tito, R.Y., Schiweck, C., Kurilshikov, A., Joossens, M., Wijmenga, C., Claes, S., Van Oudenhove, L., Zhernakova, A., Vieira-Silva, S. and Raes, J. (2019). The neuroactive potential of the human gut microbiota in quality of life and depression. Nature Microbiology, [online] 4(4), pp.623–632. Available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41564-018-0337-x [Accessed 18 Jun. 2021].
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  6. Lozupone, C.A., Stombaugh, J.I., Gordon, J.I., Jansson, J.K. and Knight, R. (2012). Diversity, stability and resilience of the human gut microbiota. Nature, [online] 489(7415), pp.220–230. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3577372/ [Accessed 18 Jun. 2021].
  7. ‌‌ O’Mahony, S.M., Clarke, G., Borre, Y.E., Dinan, T.G. and Cryan, J.F. (2015). Serotonin, tryptophan metabolism and the brain-gut-microbiome axis. Behavioural Brain Research, [online] 277, pp.32–48. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0166432814004768 [Accessed 18 Jun. 2021].
  8. Becattini, S., Taur, Y. and Pamer, E.G. (2016). Antibiotic-Induced Changes in the Intestinal Microbiota and Disease. Trends in Molecular Medicine, [online] 22(6), pp.458–478. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4885777/ [Accessed 18 Jun. 2021].

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