Trust your gut: How much do you know about the bacteria that live inside you?

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Bacteria live everywhere in your body, including your gut. These microbes have quite an impact on your health. Do you know what they do?

Question 1 of 10

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Just one round of antibiotics can destroy your gut bacteria for as long as a year.

In two studies, researchers looked at the effect of oral antibiotics on the gut microbes of healthy people and found that the medicine altered their digestive bacteria for several months, sometimes as long as an entire year.

They tested clindamycin, ciprofloxacin, minocycline and amoxicillin and looked at the quantity and quality of microbes immediatly after taking the drugs and again at one, two, four and 12 months. All four disturbed the participants' gut microbes for several months with ciproflaxacin leaving changes lasting as long as a year.

Question 2 of 10

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Gut bacteria can be different in lean people versus obese people.

Researchers compared the intestinal microbes in lean and obese people and found a big difference. The gut bacteria in lean individuals was very diverse with many different types, while the gut community in obese people was very limited, reports Scientific American.

The researchers performed a series of experiments on mice using gut bacteria and found that the gut bacteria seemed to impact the weight of the rodents.

"These experiments provide pretty compelling proof that there is a cause-and-effect relationship and that it was possible to prevent the development of obesity," the researchers said.

Question 3 of 10

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What percentage of your body is made up of microorganisms?

Microbes live in and on our bodies, from our stomachs to our skin and even inside our noses. In fact, our bodies contain trillions of microorganisms, which outnumber human cells by 10 to 1, according to the National Institutes of Health. But because they are so tiny, microorganisms only make up about 1 to 3 percent of the body's mass. That works out to be about 2 to 6 pounds of bacteria in a 200-pound adult.

Question 4 of 10

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Imbalances in certain gut bacteria can cause insulin resistance, which can lead to:

Researchers know that being overweight and inactive are the two main contributors to insulin resistance. But recent research has linked specific imbalances in gut bacteria to problems with insulin and that can lead to health disorders such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Researchers found that people who were insulin resistant had elevated blood levels of a subgroup of amino acids called branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), reports Medical Xpress. The rise of BCAAs levels was linked to changes in gut microbe composition and function.

Question 5 of 10

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What will jumping rope do, thanks to what it does to your gut bacteria?

Exercises that involve going up and down trigger a lot of gut disturbance, which subdues the hunger drive, researchers found. Vertical movements in particular may particularly suppress feelings of hunger more than other types of exercise.

Question 6 of 10

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Gut bacteria play different roles in men and women.

A team of researchers at Victoria University studied people who suffer from chronic fatigue. They found that even though the microbes in the gut may look the same, they play different roles in men and women. They found that certain bacteria such as Streptococcus, Lactobacillus and Clostridium, can behave differently in the genders. Some may cause more issues for one, but not the other, leading researchers to suggest that a "one-size-fits-all" treatment may not always be the best approach when dealing with digestive issues.

Question 7 of 10

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Heavy drinking decreases microbes in the gut.

We know that drinking a lot of alcohol can harm the liver directly. But researchers have found that alcohol consumption can also disrupt the microbes in the gut, causing them to increase and eventually scar the liver.

“We’ve known for a very long time that patients with heavy drinking and alcohol use suffered an intestinal dysbiosis, where bacteria in the gut increase and they suffer from liver disease,” University of California, San Diego, research gastroenterologist Bernd Schnabl, told Scientific American. He saw similar results in mice. “If we give rodents nonabsorbable antibiotics, get rid of the flora, they essentially are protected from liver disease."

Question 8 of 10

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What is gut bacteria's role with the autoimmune system?

Some bacteria can make the immune system stronger. But other bacteria can actually make inflammation worse. And inflammation, can be a key part of many autoimmune diseases of the joints, lungs and skin. That's why researchers believe that gut bacteria may have involvement in rheumatoid arthritis, for example, reports WebMD.


Question 9 of 10

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About the only place researchers haven't found a link to gut bacteria is with conditions that involve the brain.

There have been studies linking microbes in the gut to depression, anxiety, ADD, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Alzheimer's disease and more, reports WebMD. Some researchers credit the connection to the fact that intestinal bacteria cannot make small molecules (or metabolites) that are able to reach the brain and are able to affect its ability to work.

Question 10 of 10

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You can change your gut bacteria makeup.

Some researchers believe that eventually we will have our gut bacteria analyzed along with routine blood tests. That could lead to customized probiotics to challenge any specific microbiome you have that might be causing you harm.

In the meantime, you may just want to start with diet and exercise.

“If you make a long-term dietary change — for example from a high-fat, high-sugar diet to a leaner, more high-fiber diet — it’s possible that you could reshape your microbiome, giving it a healthier profile,” Joseph Petrosino, Ph.D. of Baylor College of Medicine told WebMD. A healthier, varied diet could improve your immune function and lower inflammation. Adding exercise might diversify bacteria too, contributing to less illness and overall better health.

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