Do you know that feeling you get in your gut? It turns out your gut may really be trying to tell you something. Our microbiome – the 100 trillion bacteria and organisms living in our gut – appears to have a profound influence on our health and risk of disease. And early scientific studies show there may be a link between the microbiome and the brain that could impact the risk of Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases.
The microbiome is a collection of bacteria, viruses and fungi that live mostly in our intestinal system. They play an important role in digestion and the production of certain vitamins, and they support our immune system. Researchers around the world study the gut microbiome, especially those bacteria unique to individuals, to learn more about their influence on our overall health.
Breathing dirty air takes a heavy toll on gut bacteria, boosting risk of obesity, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders and other chronic illnesses, new University of Colorado Boulder (CU) research suggests.
The study, published online in the journal Environment International, is the first to link air pollution to changes in the structure and function of the human gut microbiome—the collection of trillions of microorganisms residing within us.
The gaseous pollutant ozone, which helps make up Denver’s infamous “brown cloud”—is particularly hazardous, the study found, with young adults exposed to higher levels of ozone showing less microbial diversity and more of certain species associated with obesity and disease.
“We know from previous research that air pollutants can have a whole host of adverse health effects,” said senior author Tanya Alderete, an assistant professor of integrative physiology, pointing to studies linking smog with Type 2 diabetes, weight gain and inflammatory bowel diseases. “The takeaway from this paper is that some of those effects might be due to changes in the gut.”
Eat less; move more; live longer. I have been preaching that for the nearly nine-year life of this blog. There are lots of ways that exercise benefits our brains as well as our bodies which I hope will protect me from cognitive damage as I age. When it comes to the trillions of microbes in my gut, however, I confess to pretty much total ignorance. They are there. They do their jobs. We get along fine.
A recent issue of the New York Times, however, had Gretchen Reynolds writing about exercise benefiting our gut microbes in some very interesting ways. Here is a link to the article if you would like to read the full details.
Below is a quote of several paragraphs which I found meaningful.
“Most of these changes were not shared from one person to the next. Everyone’s gut responded uniquely to exercise.
“But there were some similarities, the researchers found. In particular, they noted widespread increases in certain microbes that can help to produce substances called short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are believed to aid in reducing inflammation in the gut and the rest of the body. They also work to fight insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes, and otherwise bolster our metabolisms. Continue reading →