DEFINING A BALANCED GUT

Proper balance has undeniable power. In fact it has so much power that many of us seek after proper balance in practically all things, including finances, work-life, diet, and so much more. The balance we seek is not always easy to find, as we swing the pendulum back and forth and tilt the see-saw up and down. Nevertheless, we agree that proper balance is important regardless of its elusive nature. With a plethora of junky foodstuffs flooding the markets and other factors, finding proper balance in the gut has become even more elusive.

A Balanced and Healthy Gut

In the world of gut terminology the terms balanced and healthy are inextricably connected. In other words, a balanced gut is a healthy gut and a healthy gut is a balanced gut. Beyond understanding the terminology there are a few key things to understand about a balanced and healthy gut. The three that we will be talking about include: 1. what a balanced gut is, 2. how a balanced gut will help you, and 3. how to cultivate a balanced gut.

“The last decade has witnessed a growing appreciation of the fundamental role played by an early assembly of a diverse and balanced gut microbiota and its subsequent maintenance for future health of the host.”[1] 

1. What is a Balanced Gut?

Simply a balanced gut is a balanced gut microbiome (Learn more about the gut microbiome in our previous blog). So a healthy gut is dependent upon a healthy gut microbiome. With trillions of microbes inhabiting the gut microbiome, these microbes are truly what make up your gut. Particularly, you are reliant upon the balance of health-promoting beneficial microbes within the gut microbiome. When you have the proper balance of gut microbes, you are said to have a balanced gut and thus a healthy gut. 

Then, it begs the question: what is an unbalanced gut? An unbalanced gut is a gut microbiome that has been disturbed, often referred to as dysbiosis. One scenario of dysbiosis is a shift in microbial balance where the microbiome now contains more pathogenic microbes than health-promoting beneficial microbes. This scenario of dysbiosis can arise either from more pathogenic microbes being introduced and taking over, or from the destruction of beneficial microbes allowing the already present pathogenic microbes to take over. Another scenario of dysbiosis is having no microbiome at all. This type of dysbiosis means that the gut is not populated with any microbes whether pathogenic or beneficial. 

Moreover, the different species and strains of microbes in the gut can be viewed as individual units. Meaning that too many microbes of a specific type, while usually beneficial in a proper amount, can wreak havoc on the balance of the microbiome. This theoretically overwhelming number of microbes can disrupt the balance and harmony of other beneficial microbes by out-competing them for resources. A gut microbiome in proper balance has microbes working synergistically thus fortifying balance and health. This synergy arising from the proper balance of microbes becomes very important when talking about probiotics, as we will discuss about later.

Takeaway: A balanced gut is a gut microbiome that is composed of the proper balance of beneficial microbes.

2. How a Balanced Gut Benefits You

A balanced gut benefits you through promoting overall health and wellness. Truthfully, overall health and wellness relies upon having a balanced gut. More specifically, a balanced gut promotes proper digestion, a healthy immune system, muscle recovery, and more. Having a balanced gut also protects you from the unwanted consequences of dysbiosis.

LYVECAP probiotic drink leaning up against a soccer ball

A balanced gut offers athletes many performance-related benefits, learn more here.

Dysbiosis due to any reason can be seen through a variety of symptoms. Some of these symptoms include, but are not limited to, diarrhea, bloating, gut pain, poor sleep, food intolerance, and overall feelings of unwellness. Fortunately, dysbiosis can be shifted towards a balanced and healthy gut.

Takeaway: A balanced gut is a key component for overall health and wellness.

3. Cultivating a Balanced Gut

A balanced gut is not some mysterious phenomenon only reserved for the lucky and the chosen. Through protective and proactive measures a balanced gut can be cultivated and nourished. A key protective measure you can take to protect the balance of your gut microbiome is only using antibiotics when necessary; the reason being that antibiotics can not always distinguish between the pathogenic and beneficial microbes and can end up wiping out helpful parts of your microbiome, thereby disrupting its balance. Nevertheless, there are proactive ways to cultivate and nourish a balanced gut including exercise, diet, and the use of probiotics.

Exercise

Exercise is an excellent way to promote overall health and wellness in addition to promoting a balanced gut. One 2018 study, states that “cardiorespiratory fitness correlates with health-associated gut parameters such as taxonomic diversity and richness.”[2] Microbial diversity and richness are signs of a balanced gut.

Diet

All the microbes in the gut microbiome have to intake nutrients to survive. Our diet determines what kinds of vitamins, minerals, compounds, and nutrients will be available for our own body as well our gut microbes. By not supplying certain microbes with the necessary nutrients we can essentially starve them out, on the flip side we may overfeed certain microbes with nutrients they prefer which then leads to an overgrowth of certain microbes. Either way our diets can help keep our gut balanced or feed into dysbiosis.

“It is now understood that diet plays a significant role in shaping the microbiome, with experiments showing that dietary alterations can induce large, temporary microbial shifts within 24 h.”[3]

Probiotics

Effective probiotics are designed to cultivate and nourish a balanced gut (read more about what to look for in a probiotic and why it’s important to take them daily). Although, it is not enough for the probiotic to just contain “researched” strains, as discussed earlier there must be a synergy between the strains. That is why it is far more preferential to use probiotics (as a whole; i.e., the whole formulation and mixture has proven to be effective) that have been clinically researched in human subjects, rather than probiotics claiming to simply contain “researched” strains. Combining “researched” strains does not always add up to a probiotic that works, but probiotic formulations that have been researched as a whole do. Once again it comes down to proper balance. If you want a probiotic to give you proper balance in your gut it must have the proper balance of strains to begin with. (At LYVECAP we are committed to only offering probiotic formulations that are proven to work as a whole, each strain is appropriately dosed and the strains in each formulation work together in synergy)

Takeaway: There are many protective and proactive ways to cultivate and nourish a balanced gut including exercise, diet, and taking a clinically proven probiotic.

Overview

A balanced gut is defined as being a gut with the proper balance of beneficial microbes inhabiting the system. While the definition is simple the impact of a balanced vs. unbalanced gut is huge. A balanced gut is key to overall health and wellness while an unbalanced gut notably correlated with if not causative of unwellness, disease, and discomfort. Fundamentally, the balance of our gut is something that can be shifted through lifestyle choices and other factors. Some ways to cultivate and nourish a balanced and healthy gut include exercise, proper diet,  and taking a quality clinically proven probiotic. Proper balance of the gut is something to be sought after.

Additional Sources