The Importance of the Gut
Research increasingly supports the important role microorganisms naturally living in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract play in maintaining our overall health. A "living fabric," comprised of the gut's microbial populations has been found to contribute to everything from body weight, mental health, immunity, energy and nutritional status, behavior, and more. In fact, the network of neurons found in the gut is so profoundly important, that the gut is often referred to as our "second brain," or enteric nervous system.
The extensive sheaths of neurons embedded within our alimentary canal are filled with important neurotransmitters. In fact, 95% of the body's serotonin--one of our most important neurotransmitters--is found in the bowels.
The influence of the gut is far-reaching. Our immune system is intricately linked with our gut; after all, 70 percent or more of our immune system is directed to our GI tract to expel foreign invaders.
Addressing gut health may be profoundly important in treating the wide range of psychological, neurological, and autoimmune diseases all heavily influenced by our GI health. Oftentimes, bacterial flora is found to be abnormal or have altered patterns of growth in individuals with diseases such as autism, autoimmune diseases, and more.
Bacteria in our gut directly communicate with our enteric nervous system. Research shows that the microflora in your gut can have a beneficial impact on gene expression, particularly in genes responsible for metabolism and vitamin biosynthesis.
Enjoying a healthy diet is the best way to augment and support the growth of beneficial gut flora. Probiotics also help to augment our microbicrobial fabric. Our office generally recommends a probiotic supplement for health maintenance. Be sure to talk to ask your clinician if a probiotic is right for your child.
Information about how gut-health relates to autism can be found here.