The Power of a Healthy Gut: An Introduction


  • Our gut is made up of trillions of bacteria – some friendly and others not so friendly
  • Research shows that having a healthy gut
    • Improves immune function
    • Improves digestion
    • Reduces inflammation and risk of diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer
    • Decreases anxiety, and even improves brain function and mood
  • Over 50% of Australian adults experience digestive issues including gas, bloating and constipation.
  • Understanding how our gut works – to regulate our digestion, hormones, mood and immune system – can help us develop daily strategies to take better care of ourselves

Gut health

We’re sure you’ve heard of products containing prebiotics  (plant-based foods), probiotics (yoghurt or supplements), fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut), and words such as gut microbiota (microorganisms including bacteria, virus and fungi that reside in the gut) and microbiome (genetic makeup of these microorganisms) and gut bacteria.

This is because most people know that having a healthy gut is essential to their health and well-being.

More than 100 trillion microorganisms (mostly bacteria) live in our gut — some are more friendly than others.

A healthy gut means a good balance between good and bad bacteria.

Research has shown that a healthy gut has amazing health benefits, beyond just helping with digestion.

Good gut bacteria help improve heart health, reduce the risk of colon cancer, and can even improve your sleep pattern and mood by producing feel-good hormones serotonin.

In fact, 95% of serotonin, is not produced in the brain but in the gut.

This powerful example of the gut-brain connection demonstrates how gut health is linked to our emotions.

But the process works both ways with signals from the brain also effecting our gut.

While the gut-brain axis and its connections develop during the first three years of life.

Environmental factors like diet, medication, and lifestyle choices have a great influence as a child grows up.

Especially in the context of mood, anxiety, and depression.

What is the microbiome and gut diversity?

The gut is resident to trillions of bacteria.

Together with other microorganisms (virus and fungi) – they make up the “gut microbiome”.

Maintaining the right balance of friendly and unfriendly bacteria in your gut can reduce inflammation and lower disease risk including diabetes.

It can also decrease anxiety, and even improve brain function.

A healthy balance of gut bacteria is also said to boost metabolism, eliminate cravings, and help you shed unwanted weight.

Importantly, a large proportion of the cells that make up your immune system reside in your gut. An imbalance of friendly and unfriendly bacteria in the gut or reduced “gut diversity” is associated with a reduced immune response as well as obesity, heart-, kidney- and liver-related diseases, cancer and autism.

One in five Australian adults suffer from digestive issues including gas, constipation and bloating with more women than men. The symptoms of an unhealthy gut can range from heartburn, excessive fullness, excessive burping, nausea, rumbling stomach noises to bloating, abdominal pain, abnormal bowel habits and excessive wind. Learn more about how prebiotics can improve your gut health.

Take-home message

  • The gut plays a critical role in your overall health.
  • A healthy gut is important for digestion, mood and immunity.
  • A balance between good and bad bacteria can help prevent against disease.



Gut health and weight loss - CSIRO