Mind and Body

3 critical ways the gut influences overall health

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You’ve probably heard you should “follow your gut,” but it turns out you may be doing that whether you want to or not.

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A growing body of evidence suggests the gut microbiome, the trillions of organisms living in your digestive tract, has far-reaching effects on health.

Here are three surprising ways your gut affects your health.

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1. Longevity

The relationship between the gut microbiome and overall health is complex, but a healthy gut promotes longevity by protecting against potentially fatal conditions.

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A study published in the journal Nature Medicine found specific microbes linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.

2. Personality

The diversity of your gut microbiome may determine your level of sociability and anxiety.

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Research links a more diverse gut microbiome with being more outgoing, and a less diverse microbiome with anxiety.

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Gut health also affects mental health, with one study finding that microbiome markers may be able to help diagnose depression.

3. Immunity

What’s in your gut can help your body fight infection and trigger specific immunities.

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A study published in Cell found fungus in the gut can help the immune system produce antibodies to fight fungal infections — at least in mice.

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Other molecules found in the gut can disrupt health and drive autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, suggests a study published in Science Immunology.

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By disrupting the immune system, poor health gut could also make COVID-19 sufferers more susceptible to long-term health impacts.

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Fortunately, diet has been found to have a bigger effect on gut health than genes, and exercise also has an impact.

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Researchers recommend eating plenty of fiber by way of fruits and veggies and adding natural probiotics like sauerkraut and yogurt for optimal gut health.

Read more stories on health here.

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