There are 10 times more bacteria in the normal human body than there are human cells. Let’s try to wrap our head around this for a second. Each bacteria is one cell, one living entity. Our body is made up of cells as well, though we only have one tenth of the number of cells in comparison to the number of bacteria lingering in our body. Isn’t that dangerous?! Well, no. In fact, those bacteria are actually vital and play a huge role in regulating our health, and body. This is where it gets interesting.
The bacteria aren’t just lying around wherever they want. They are mostly lining the barrier between the outside world, and the inside of our body. Where is the majority of this barrier? From our mouth, right down to the other side where the waste goes out. All along this long tube, from the oesophagus, stomach, intestines and rectum, that’s the money spot for the bacteria.
Why does this matter?
There are endless types of bacteria, and there is more and more evidence that the different type of bacteria that we have in us have massive effects on our health. This mass and combination of bacteria is called our microbiome. Antibiotics for example, kills bacteria in a non-specific way, and this can mess with our microbiome. It can cause certain bad types of bacteria to thrive, like Clostridium Difficile, which causes infection and diarrhea. This is one of the reasons why we have to be very careful not to take antibiotics excessively. There are other reasons of course but this is one of them.
It effects our food cravings!
The crazy thing about our microbiome however, is it reacts heavily to the food that we eat. If you eat for example sugar and carbohydrates all day, which bacteria do you think will thrive? The bacteria that like sugar and carbohydrates of course! What happens next? You get cravings for more sugar and carbohydrates! Do you see where I’m going with this one? You can easily put yourself into an addictive cycle in which you eat all of the wrong foods, and then your body will be dependant and crave those foods even more. But it isn’t even your body that’s craving the foods, it’s these bacteria that are making your body think that you need them, even though you may not.
It effects the way we feel!
Up until now this is almost common sense. However one of the most interesting things is that these bacteria, your microbiome, plays a huge role in creating and storing the molecules that your brain uses to communicate. One of the best examples of this is serotonin, one of the molecules that regulates our happiness, depression, sleep and many other parts of our mood regulation. If you put junk in your body, you are hindering your own ability to create these neurotransmitters in a healthy quantity and quality. Eating healthy can therefore have a direct effect on your mood, so maybe it’s not best to eat chocolate and ice cream to make yourself feel better!
There is no doubt that this is an extremely oversimplified look into the roles and relationships that your microbiome has to your body. However, it’s really important to consider that the food that you eat directly effects the type of bacteria that live symbiotically with you. It’s important that you take care of them, so that they can take care of you. So next time that you are feeling a bit lazy and don’t want to prepare yourself a proper meal, remember that you’re not doing yourself any favours. By giving the bad bacteria something to thrive on, you’re letting them take over you gut, and your mood. Be happy, and eat healthy!