Gut Feeling

Gut health: 7 hidden benefits of restoring your microbiota

It’ll do a lot more than just improve digestion.

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Your stomach is home to billions of live bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and microscopic fungi.

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But don’t sweat it — these tiny organisms help break down food and keep your digestive system healthy.

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This is called your gut microbiome. Research suggests a healthy microbiome may lead to benefits that go beyond your digestive system.

Here are 7 health benefits linked to a flourishing microbiome:

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7. Improved cognitive function

A study from August 2021 found that when older mice received microbiome transplants from healthy, younger mice, they showed improved brain function and behavior.

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In humans, studies show healthier microbiomes correlate with better cognitive function. This might even help with brain and body health as you age.

6. Increased Longevity

In a 2021 study published in Nature Metabolism, scientists found people with more diverse microbiomes tend to live longer than those without.

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Eating a wide variety of foods can diversify the microbiome, and raise defenses against illness and mental decline as you age.

5. A stronger immune system

A diverse, healthy microbiome is linked to a stronger immune system. One study even found it might help mediate the body’s response to Covid-19.

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We’ve also seen immune system improvements in patients who have fecal transplants when their microbiome is weakened due to antibiotics.

4. Better metabolism

A healthy microbiome can help regulate metabolism and decrease the risk of metabolic diseases.

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This means a healthy microbiome may also play a role in managing obesity.

3. Healthier skin

There’s also a link between gut health and skin conditions like eczema, acne, and psoriasis.

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Though there’s limited research on how skin conditions are related to the microbiome, preliminary studies suggest probiotic supplements show promise for restoring skin health.

2. Fight depression and anxiety

Several studies report a correlation between gut health and mental health. More specifically, unhealthy microbiomes have been found in people who struggle with certain conditions.

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Observations show that low microbial health is associated with major depressive disorder and anxiety, though more research is needed to show if this is a causal effect.

1. Boost mood

In a similar vein as mental health, microbiome health has been shown to correlate with the ability to regulate emotions.

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One study from April 2021 found a connection between loneliness and gut health — but it’s unclear yet how, or if, one factor directly affects the other.

Read more stories about health here.

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