What is your gut, and what does it do?
Your gut (gastrointestinal tract) is the long trail of organs running through your body, starting at your mouth and ending at your anus, that process food.
Specific organs along this trail are:
- Your mouth/oral cavity
- Salivary Glands
- Small intestine
- Large intestine
- Gall bladder
Processing food is more than just giving you energy. The gut is also responsible for a lot of different things and many of them don’t come down to the organs themselves, but the microbiome within them.
What is gut bacteria/the microbiome?
Inside these organs, particularly the large intestine, you will find not millions, but trillions of microorganisms. This collection of tiny, tiny creatures, mostly comprising of bacteria, is called your gut microbiome. 
Some of these bacteria have been with you since birth, and they all perform different jobs. Some breakdown food for energy, some help build your immune system, and some even make vitamins! All of them worth together to help your gut function at its best.
Are there really good and bad bacteria?
The idea that some of the bacteria in your gut are “good” or “bad” is a tricky one. We need all our bacteria; a diverse variety of gut bacteria keeps us healthy and strong, but everything needs to be in moderation. Like a rainforest, your gut ecosystem is a delicate one. Sometimes things like lack of sleep, a limited diet, illness and antibiotic use can damage the more helpful bacteria or make it hard for them to survive, causing the number of bacteria to become imbalanced. 
What are the symptoms of an imbalanced microbiota?
The different bacteria in the gut are like people, we all like different things. Some like certain foods more than others, and some like to live in different climates. In a healthy gut, they all live in harmony together. If something does happen to upset this harmony (for example, using antibiotics), it can lead to sleep and digestive issues, skin issues, immune system problems, and can even impact your mood.
Your gut is like a second brain; it talks to other parts of your body, and can impact how they behave. When something is not quite right in the gut, you may experience the repercussions somewhere else. 
What is a probiotic?
A probiotic is one way you can help restore some balance to your gut bacteria. They contain live “good” bacteria, to help you rebuild a healthy gut microbiome. Probiotics containing two scientifically studied strains, Lactobacillus acidophilusand Bifidobacterium lactis at a researched dose, when taken daily may maintain the balance of good bacteria, support digestive function, a healthy immune system and general wellbeing.  Different kinds of probiotics exist on the market to target specific issues, containing different amounts and strains of bacteria. If you are having problems with issues stemming from your gut health, our gut health experts in the Pharmacy can help you find a probiotic that may be right for you.
Tips to keep your gut health in balance.
If you find your gut health needs a bit of a hand, we have some great tips to help you bring the balance back.
- Make sure you avoid using antibiotics unless prescribed by your Doctor and absolutely necessary. If you do need to take antibiotics, consider using a probiotic at the same time.
- Avoid drinking excess alcohol, this can damage your delicate gut bacteria.
- Provide quality fuel for your bacteria in the form of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Some bacteria like some foods more than others, so having a wide variety can please more of them.
- Get that heart pumping! Exercising every day is great for not only your gut, but your overall health too.
- Stress can take a big toll on your microbiome, so taking some time out of every day to relax, or utilising meditation can help bring your stress levels down and keep those bacteria calm too. 
Looking to make a positive change?
We know the importance of having a healthy gut so if you have any questions or queries, come in-store and speak to one of our specialists about how you can maintain your gut health.
 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5433529/ – Introduction to the human gut microbiota
 https://www.science.org.au/curious/people-medicine/gut-bacteria – “When your gut gets out of whack