Gut Bacteria and Human Health

We talk a lot about a horse’s gut bacteria and how they impact health… have you ever stopped to think about your gut bacteria and how they might be influencing your health?? This relatively new area of science quite literally blows my mind. These tiny critters control us in so many ways and have such a massive impact on our life that it is truly worth thinking about how what you eat affects them (and then how they affect you).

Here are a few very quick bits of info that are quite amazing… you ready?!

1. Bacteria in your body outnumber your human cells by 10 to 1, so in actual fact, we are 10 parts bacteria, 1 part human.

2. Bacterial DNA in our body outnumbers our human DNA by 100 to 1, so in that respect we are only 1% human (Don’t think about that too much!!)

3. Bacteria like to tell us what to eat. Certain foods are their favorites so in order for them to survive, they will make us go and eat their favorite foods! This is OK if you have a nice healthy population of fibre/vegetable loving bacteria in your gut. But it becomes an issue when you have accidentally bred up a sugar or fat loving bunch of microbes. Next time you are craving sugar or fatty food you can probably blame your bacteria! In saying that, if you starve the ones you don’t want in there (e.g. stop eating sugar) the cravings should lessen!

4. Bacteria produce mood altering hormones like dopamine and serotonin. Studies suggest half of these hormones in our body come from our intestine! Get the wrong bacteria and you could very likely be in the ‘wrong’ mood!

5. Bacteria can reduce or increase anxiety. In mice, taking the gut bacteria from nervous mice and introducing them to calm mice made the calm mice anxious! Scary huh!!

This list could go on (and on… and on!). There are known relationships between diseases like asthma and Type 2 Diabetes and gut bacteria for example. Suffice to say they are important little critters and probably have far more of an influence on you (and your horse) than you realise.

Eat well! Keep those bacteria healthy … I can’t help you much here (other than eat more real food and less junk) but certainly when it comes to feeding your horses, always think about how what you are feeding is affecting their gut bacteria. If you have time, have a read of our article on feeding for hindgut health!

And if you’d like to read some more about all the amazing interactions you have with your own bacteria, this article is good!

Enjoy!! Nerida

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