BY COLETTE HOUSE
The mighty health benefits of the bacteria in your gut
Your gastrointestinal tract is lined with microbes collectively called the microbiome, which includes bacteria, fungi, and even viruses. Though it sounds gross and even unhealthy, gut bacteria perform many important functions in the body, including aiding the immune system, producing the feel-good brain chemical serotonin, making energy available to the body from the food we eat, and disposing of foreign substances and toxins, according to Lisa Fischer, MS, RDN, LDN, registered dietitian at the UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, though we always have a mixture of good and bad bacteria, sometimes the bad guys get the upper hand, causing dysbiosis, or an imbalance in gut bacteria, which can play a role in a number of health conditions. These clear signs point to an imbalance that has the potential to make you sick.