The gut is one of the most important organs in the body. Not only does it process your food, but it is the seat of the immune system. When thing goes wrong with the gut, things eventually go wrong with the body.
The gut is how our body absorb vital nutrients. It is a rain-forest of bacteria — 3 pounds of them with over 500 different species of bacteria. Without them, we can not live. Our bodies have more bacterial DNA than our own DNA. There are 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells in our body.[reference] So you can say we are more bacteria than human. There are 100 trillion bacteria (that’s 100,000,000,000,000), weighing in at about 3 pounds (about the weight of your brain). 60% of your stool by weight is bacteria.
Some are good bacteria and some are bad bacteria. The good bacteria helps us digest food, make vitamins, detox poisons, produce energy, balance pH, and other tasks. The bad bacteria produce toxins, ferment starches, causes bloating, and wreak havoc on your gut which can cause all sorts of symptoms in your body including affecting your brain.
If the surface of our gut is laid out, it would cover a tennis court — that’s about 100 times the surface area of your skin. But this surface is not very thick (only one cell layer). Damage to this layer is called “leaky gut” or intestinal permeability. When partially digested food “leaks” through, then it triggers your immune system to respond with inflammation.
Quoting from the book Digestive Wellness…
“You have somewhere between 500 and 1000 types of bacteria in your digestive system, each type having hundreds of different strains. … They weigh several pounds and have the same metabolic capacity as your liver.”
You have good bacteria and bad bacteria. This balance of bacteria and the interaction of our genes has a profound effect on our metabolism and immune system.
If the bad bacteria overpowers the good bacteria, it can result in health issues. Bacteria have a technique known as “quorum sensing” where they activate when they sense that they have sufficient numbers.
From the book, Digestive Health with Real Food, it says there are 800 species and 7000 strains of bacteria. 95% of the neurotransmitter serotonin is found in the gut (not the brain).