Our bodies, or more so our gastrointestinal tracts (comprised of our stomach & intestines) are colonised by bacteria, known as microbiota. If all is well, the gut microbiota will have a positive effect on our health, regulating mood, hormones, digestion, metabolic processes and so on. However if this balance of good/bad bacteria becomes out of whack, we could be in real trouble. One of the main problems we see with dysbiosis (the imbalance of good to bad bacteria in favour of the bad guys) is chronic skin conditions. It is well known that the health of our internal systems is reflected in the quality of our skin. Im sorry to say it people. but that cream you rub on your face every night is doing everything but help improve your skin. Other common effects of dysbisos are hormone imbalances, bad breath, constipation and diarrhoea, bloating, fatigue, anxiety and depression.
Our gut is absolutely central to our overall health, performance, looks and mood. Our gut has 100-150 more genes than human DNA. Now I think you can start to see how important it is? Our entire body, comprised of our DNA, the very make-up which determines our looks, personality, character, emotion etc. The gut has 100-150 time more. If the gut was a human, it would be 100 times more intelligent and complex than Stephen Hawkins. Light hearted joke there (that not scientifically backed by the way - just a cool way to look at it)
For every 1 message the brain sends to the gut, the gut sends 9 back, meaning 90% of the communication between the brain and our gut is initiated and controlled by the gut. This is known as the gut-brain axis.We know our brain has regions that control behaviour (amygdala) emotion (limbic system), decision making (frontal lobe), mood (limbic system), memory (hippocampus), hormonal signalling (hypothalamus), sleep, (thalamus).
We know serotonin is a chemical that is very abundant in the brain, and it contributes to feeling of happiness, that also controls the body clock, our circadian rhythm. Almost all of the neurotransmitters (NT) thats are in the brain are also found in the gut, and actually more of these brain chemicals are made in the gut than in the brain. Our gut microbes also produce a NT called Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (you may know this as GABA), which helps control feelings of fear and anxiety. It can be known as the relaxation chemical that helps us stay calm and stress-free. the link between the gut and the brain is so tremendously strong, that if we fail to take care of our gut, you can be pretty sure your whole health and nervous system will be greatly impaired.
So yes, pretty much everything that we do, see, breathe, excrete, how we behave, how we react and respond, how we make decisions is controlled by the brain. But we know that the brain is pretty much under constant communication and you could say control by the microbiome. Are you convinced yet?
The development of defined arms of the immune system and more particularly the ones associated with adaptive immunity has coincided with the acquisition of a complex microbiota supporting the concept that a large fraction of this machinery has evolved as a means to maintain a symbiotic relationships with these highly diverse microbial communities. In turn the microbiota promote and calibrate all aspects of the immune system 
The immune system is the group of cells and molecules that protect us from disease by monitoring our body and responding to any foreign (non-self) substances they perceive as threats, particularly infectious microbes. Our immune system has co-evolved along with a diverse gut flora, not only to create defences against pathogens, but also to develop tolerance for beneficial microbes. As a consequence, the immune system and the gut microbiota developed a mutualistic relationship, regulating one another and cooperating to support each other. The importance of this interaction is clearly highlighted by the fact that 70–80% of the body’s immune cells are found in the gut . We can safely say, that if the microbiome is impacted negatively in anyway, by toxin exposure, stress, inflammation, alcohol etc, then our immune system will be directly affected as a result and our ability to deal with and fight infection and disease is compromised.
So how can we mess up our gut health?
negative dietary changes that see the introduction of ‘junk’ food, and more sugary treats.
exposure to chemicals and estrogen’s (we see these in cosmetics and on unwashed, farmed fruit/veg.
excessivve alcohol intake (and by excessive, that’s just more than one glass a day)
medications like antibiotics, that alter the formation of our microbiota.
poor dental hygiene
chronic stress, physical, or emotional
How can we improve the function and diversity of our gut?
We ideally want the most diverse and abundant microbiota. Meaning hundreds and thousands of different types of good and bad bacteria (yes bad bacteria have their role too). We just want it to be balanced.
Eat a diverse range of foods: this is important not only from a gut health perspective but from a malnutrition standpoint also. But we will stick with gut health. Generally speaking, eating a broad range of food will feed the gut to result in the most diverse array of bacteria possible. The more plants, and the more varied the plants we eat, the better. As we know, the western diet is very high in sugar and fats (especially those people that follow the if it fits your macros approach and get the bare minimum fruit and veg in, to only make up their remaining calories with some junk. 75% of the worlds food is estimated to be produced by 5 animals and 12 plants. Do not be one of these people. the microbiomes of those living in places like Africa and South America are far more diverse and healthy than people like us of Europe (hence the need to excessive hospitals and medical centres) and now the biggest death rates in the world from Covid-19
Fermented foods: sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, plain natural yoghurt) are a few that really help. many fermented foods are already rich in a type of bacteria (lactobacilli) that is found in our gut. Fermented foods are rich in probiotic bacteria so by consuming them you are adding beneficial bacteria and enzymes to your overall intestinal flora, increasing the health of your gut microbiome and digestive system and enhancing the immune system. The fermentation of dietary fibre byproducts, such as short-chain fatty acids (acetate, propionate and butyrate) and the decrease in luminal colonic pH promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. Butyrate is one of the short-chain fatty acids that are produced by the fermentation of dietary fibre. Dietary fibre such as complex carbohydrate sources, vegetables, fruit, grains and seeds. Butyrate has been recently reported to suppress colonic inflammation in two ways: i) by inducing T-cell apoptosis, thus eliminating the source of inflammation, and ii) by suppressing interferon-γ (IFN-γ)-mediated inflammation  Fructans and galactooligosaccharides (accepted prebiotic fibers) led to a significantly greater abundance of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. Accepted prebiotics at present are the fibre types galacto‐oligosaccharides, fructo‐oligosaccharides and inulin, some forms of which occur naturally in foods such as pulses, grains, fruit and vegetables 
Eat foods rich in polyphenols: Polyphenols can’t always be digested by human cells. Given that they aren’t absorbed efficiently, most make their way to the colon, where they can be digested by gut bacteria.
I hope this helps you, and you can take away some helpful points to introduce into your lifestyle that will keep your internal environment healthy, and consequently make you look great from the outside.
Published by Luke French, 19th Jan 2021 | Health and Physique Coach
Personal trainer, health coach, specialising in fat loss, holistic health and fitness, in Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Hildenborough and surrounding areas. As always, any questions you have, please feel free to reach out to me on any social media platform.
 Belkaid Y, Hand TW. Role of the microbiota in immunity and inflammation. Cell. 2014;157(1):121-141. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2014.03.011