The gut is not just for digestion: the gut, powered by microbes in a healthy microbiome, produces hormones, neuotransmitters (chemicals that power nerve signals), the anti-aging anti-cancer anti-inflammatory molecules, as well as the digestive enzymes.
Healthy gut is the secret to strong immune system, mental health and overall better cardiovascular health.
Youth have bifidobacterium, lactobacillus and enterobacteria colonizing the GI tract. As we age into adulthood multiple species are added to the gut including bacillus, faecalibacterium, clostridium and many others. Generally speaking, the more types of bacteria, the healthier. The more you are able to keep this diversity, you are more likely to sustain both health and longevity!
Each species of bacteria has a different role. Those who are very lean seem to have more christensenellaceae. Bifidobacteria produce biproducts called short-chain fatty acids which can scavenge free-radicals and improve the immune system. Akkermansia muciniphilia prevents leaky gut and protects the actual lining of the gut so that it is resistant to unhealthy bacteria.
Oddly it’s not just what you eat that is going to affect the health of the gut. Too sanitary an environment, stress, exposure to harmful chemicals are as deliterious to the sensitive gut lining as over exposure to antibiotics.
Probiotics, prebiotics, appropriate diet, exercise, stress reduction, and rest are all important ways to keep your gut health.