Digestive Enzymes. What is the Research Saying?
Does gut bacteria really affect your health?
The short answer is yes, gut bacteria does affect your health.
The science and research correlating gut bacteria with a myriad of illnesses is substantive. There is significant research showing that the gut may be more important to health than was originally explored and its balance and diversity affects many other body systems. It begs the question why gut bacteria has not been a mainstream concern to health and wellness well before now. Understanding the biology of your gut helps you to make informed decisions regarding your microbiome management.
Anatomy and biology basics of the gut, the nervous system, and the microbiome.
To understand the research, we need to know how the systems all work together.
What is the gut?
The gut is your gastrointestinal tract and includes everything from your mouth to your anus.
What is the gut microbiome?
The microbiome is the whole system of human-associated microbes (bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses) that develop in the human host.
What is microbiota?
Your microbiota (also known as “gut flora”) consists of trillions of thousands of different species of bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses and are not only limited to the large and small intestines, but throughout the body. Typically, you are first introduced to microbiota from the birth canal and through breast milk and then it changes due to environmental exposure, medication, and diet. There are good microbiota (one’s that help) and bad microbiota (ones that can cause illness or disease). Research is identifying how these microbiota all work together. Everyone’s microbiota is different.
How does the gut work?
How does the gut work? Known in scientific circles as the “second brain”. The gut and brain have a very cyclical and complicated relationship, where the gut affects and communicates with the brain and the brain affects and communicates with the gut using the nervous system. The gut to brain axis involves neural, hormonal, and immunological signals between the gut and the brain. For example, mental stress can make the gut’s bacteria change and the gut bacteria can make the brain change. It is related to your nervous system, your limbic system, neural pathways, and so much more.
What is good bacteria and bad bacteria in the gut?
There is discussion about “beneficial bacteria” and “disease causing bacteria” and its ecosystem sounds like a good versus evil war going on in your digestive tract. There is an interesting TedTalk primer, Microbiome: Gut Bugs and You, presented by Warren Peters MD MPH, the Director of Center, Center for Health Promotion, School of Public Health, Linda Loma University. He discusses dysbiosis, which means an imbalance between the “good bugs and bad bugs”, and its direct effect on your immune system, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), obesity, diabetes, Alzheimers, sleep issues, etc.
What is the Nervous System?
The nervous system is a complex network of nerves and cells that carry messages to and from the brain and spinal cord to various parts of the body. Watch the video: The Nervous System in 9 Minutes, created by CTESkills.com, for more detail.
What is the Gut Brain Axis?
Simplified, the gut brain axis is the communication system between your gut and brain.
What are prebiotics and probiotics?
The Mayo Clinic definition of prebiotics and probiotics: “Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain live microorganisms intended to maintain or improve the "good" bacteria (normal microflora) in the body. Prebiotics are foods (typically high-fiber foods) that act as food for human microflora.
Prebiotics are used with the intention of improving the balance of these microorganisms. Probiotics are in foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut. Prebiotics are in foods such as whole grains, bananas, greens, onions, garlic, soybeans, and artichokes. In addition, probiotics and prebiotics are added to some foods and available as dietary supplements.”
What are digestive enzymes?
- Zenwise Health Digestive Enzymes are powerful supplements with a natural Enzyme, Prebiotic, and Probiotic blend to promote healthy digestion for men and women.
- Immune-Boosting Probiotic – The gut is home to 50% of the body’s immune response, so this supplement features proprietary DE111, a probiotic strain clinically shown to enhance immune system response.
- Supports Gut Flora & Enzyme Levels as You Age – The Prebiotic, Probiotics (L-Acidophilus, L-Plantarum, L-Salivarius), and Enzymes support gut bacteria and enzymes your body isn't producing as you age.
Summary of the anatomy/biology of the gut
The gut is the area comprised of your digestive tract from your mouth to your anus. It sends signals to the brain and the brain sends signals to the gut using the nervous system to communicate and directly affects your health. It has over one trillion bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses, and some of these are good and some of them are bad.
Scientific research purports that the following areas are affected by your gut balance. Research is ongoing in this area, but the research we have to date shows direct correlations to health as described below.
Does gut bacteria affect sleep?
It is common knowledge that sleep is one of the things that affects your health directly. Insomnia is hard on your body and your mind. Researchers have found some microbiota also need “sleep” and when you are not getting enough restful sleep neither is your gut. Humans have circadian rhythms (Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle, like sleep/wake cycles) and research shows intestinal microbiota also exhibit circadian rhythms.
The gut microbiome and inflammation may be linked to sleep loss, circadian misalignment, affective disorders, and metabolic disease.
Gut Bacteria and Sleep Research Examples:
- The intestinal microbiota regulates body composition through NFIL 3 and the circadian clock (Wang Y, Kuang Z, Yu X, Ruhn KA, Kubo M, Hooper LV. The intestinal microbiota regulates body composition through NFIL3 and the circadian clock. Science. 2017 Sep 1;357(6354):912-916.)
- The shift work and health research agenda: Considering changes in gut microbiota as a pathway linking shift work, sleep loss and circadian misalignment, and metabolic disease (Reynolds AC, Paterson JL, Ferguson SA, Stanley D, Wright KP Jr, Dawson D. Sleep Med Rev. 2017 Aug;34:3-9)
How does gut bacteria affect depression?
In scientific circles, the gut is known as the “second brain.” A cover story, “With a sophisticated neural network transmitting messages from trillions of bacteria, the brain in your gut exerts a powerful influence over the one in your head” the American Psychological Association reports, “Gut bacteria produce hundreds of neurochemicals that the brain uses to regulate basic physiological processes as well as mental processes such as learning, memory and mood. For example, gut bacteria manufacture about 95 percent of the body's supply of serotonin, which influences both mood and GI activity (Carpenter, September 2012, Vol 43, No. 8).”
For depression, Doctor’s often prescribe Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) to increase levels of serotonin in the brain (like Paxil, Zoloft, Lexapro, Celexa) that could include a whole host of side effects. There is new science popping-up discussing the gut brain access in it’s role in psychiatry. Umadevi Naidoo, MD in an article in The Psychiatric Times reports, “From a mental health perspective, 90% of serotonin receptors are located in the gut. It is therefore not surprising that when someone is prescribed an antidepressant such as sertraline or fluoxetine, the most common adverse effects are gut related.”
Gut Bacteria and Depression Research Examples:
- Gut Microbiome and Depression: How Microbes Affect the Way We Think (Limbana, Therese et al. “Gut Microbiome and Depression: How Microbes Affect the Way We Think.” Cureus 12,8 e9966. 23 Aug. 2020, doi:10.7759/cureus.9966)
- In an excellent article in ScieneMag.org, Elizabeth Pennisi wrote, Meet the ‘psychobiome’: the gut bacteria that may alter how you think, feel, and act
Does Gut Bacteria Affect Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and recent research are reporting growing evidence to support gastrointestinal symptoms and behaviour with correlations to probiotics helping to correct dysbiosis (microbial imbalance) and reduce severity of ASD symptoms.
Gut Bacteria and Autism Research Examples:
- The Promising Role of Probiotics in Managing the Altered Gut in Autism Spectrum Disorders (Abdellatif, Basma et al. “The Promising Role of Probiotics in Managing the Altered Gut in Autism Spectrum Disorders.” International journal of molecular sciences 21,11 4159. 10 Jun. 2020, doi:10.3390/ijms21114159)
- Serena Gordon a HealthDay Reporter, for WebMD wrote a 2019 article discussing the microbiome and autism. Could Treating Gut Bacteria Help Autism Symptoms?
Gut Bacteria and Obesity
Research shows gut bacteria can affect how fat is stored, how your food is digested and whether you feel hungry or full. Researchers have discovered a new link between gut bacteria and obesity. Lund University reports that, “They found that certain amino acids in our blood can be connected to both obesity and the composition of the gut microbiome.”The composition is not fixed and Cindy D. Davis Ph.D. reports in her article, The Gut Microbiome and Its Role in Obesity that, “This fact raises the attractive possibility that manipulating the gut microbiota could facilitate weight loss or prevent obesity in humans. Emerging as possible strategies for obesity prevention and/or treatment are targeting the microbiota, in order to restore or modulate its composition through the consumption of live bacteria (probiotics), nondigestible or limited digestible food constituents such as oligosaccharides (prebiotics), or both (synbiotics), or even fecal transplants.” (Davis, Cindy D. “The Gut Microbiome and Its Role in Obesity.” Nutrition today vol. 51,4 (2016): 167-174. doi:10.1097/NT.0000000000000167)
Gut Bacteria and Obesity Research Examples:
- Gut microbiota and obesity (Karina Al-Assal, Ana Cristina Martinez, Raquel Susana Torrinhas, Camila Cardinelli, Dan Waitzberg, Gut microbiota and obesity, Clinical Nutrition Experimental, Volume 20, 2018, Pages 60-64, ISSN 2352-9393, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yclnex.2018.03.001.)
- Dietary Alteration of the Gut Microbiome and Its Impact on Weight and Fat Mass: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (John, George Kunnackal et al. “Dietary Alteration of the Gut Microbiome and Its Impact on Weight and Fat Mass: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Genes 9,3 167. 16 Mar. 2018, doi:10.3390/genes9030167)
There is a lot of research going into gut bacteria and its effects on many parts and systems of the body demonstrating links between your immune system, mental health, skin conditions, cancer and so much more. We chose some of the top-level research for this article to help explain how the body systems are all connected and how microbiota directly impacts your body. Gut bacteria is a hot topic for researchers and scientists and the correlations between health and gut can only become more important as more research develops. Probiotics and prebiotics should play an important part in your overall gut bacteria health. Digestive enzymes play a part in wellness.
Contact us for more information about digestive enzymes, probiotics, and prebiotics.
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