Just what is the microbiome?

It’s actually the epicenter of your health. 

“All disease begins in the gut”

~ Hippocrates

Not until recent years have we realized just how powerful our microbiome. Your gut microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria, fungi and other microbes. The amount of bacterial cells within the human gastrointestinal tract outnumber the host’s cells 10x. The genes encoded by the bacteria resident within the GIT outnumber their host’s genes by more than 100 times. Wow, that’s a pretty impressive comparison when you think about it. These microbes have tremendous potential to impact our physiology both in health and disease. They protect against pathogens. They contribute to metabolic function which in turn affect our physiological functions both directly and indirectly.

These microbes affect our hormones way more than we think.

It controls how we digest our food, absorb our nutrients and directly affects our immunity.  If you are eating healthy but are not absorbing your food, you will become nutrient deficient which is the bigger part of the puzzle.  The villi in the small intestine is responsible for absorbing the nutrients and which then seeps into the bloodstream so our body can use these nutrients for energy.

When dysbiosis (an imbalance of good vs. bad bacteria) occurs it can cause all sorts of havoc. Including IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), IBM (inflammatory bowel disease), gas, bloating, pain, diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, nutrition malabsorption, skin issues, etc. Recently evidence indicates that the gut bacteria can alter the way we store fat, balance our blood sugar, respond to hormones and atopy (genetic tendency to develop allergic diseases).  Therefore, affecting wider systemic diseases such as obesity and diabetes 2. It also affects your brain and mental health as there is a direct connection between them.

If you want to avoid your yearly bout with the common cold, I might suggest starting with cleaning up your gut.  

It’s where your entire immune system lives and boosting your gut health will greatly improve your ability to fight off common viruses, improve your brain health and help you fight off other more serious health conditions such as cancer.

What I found is that the gut is the driving force of our health in every way.

It was the culprit of many of my own health conditions such as cystic acne, eczema, psoarsis, graves disease, etc. However, at the time, I literally had no idea and still if I were to mention this to my endocrinologist today he’d most likely roll his eyes.  Thankfully, I am a multi-passionate woman and nutrition and holistic methods were my love next to cooking.

Research after research pointed me to what you were eating or not eating that is greatly affecting our guts much more than we even realize.

There are a lot of factors that can disrupt your gut flora as well as cause inflammation.

Namely,

  • Sugar
  • Processed foods/fast food
  • Unhealthy fats and oils
  • Dairy
  • Gluten
  • Not eating a diverse diet
  • Stress
  • Lack of prebiotics (non-digestible parts of food)
  • Lack of probiotics
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Antibiotics
  • Medications
  • Heavy metals
  • Lack of sleep (your gut follows a circadian rhythm)
  • Smoking
  • Taking over the counter medicines such as acid blockers, nsaids (pain killers, aspirin, ibuprofen such as tylenol and aleve, advil and such)
  • Not enough exercise

All these things can have a serious impact on your gut health. It’s not only about the imbalance of bacteria but over time you can develop intestinal permeability aka leaky gut.  This occurs when damage to the small intestine causes bacteria, waste and particles to escape from your intestine and into your bloodstream. Your body goes into an autoimmune response because these particles do not belong there so it can cause so many different type of symptoms. It can range from a headache, digestive upset, skin issues, joint issues, and so much more. It honestly can be different from one person to the next so it’s very important to listen to your own body and what it is telling you.

Often we put band-aid approaches to symptoms that we need to pay attention to.  And, it’s also disheartening to go to the doctors only to be told there is nothing wrong with you or that these symptoms are normal.

Never underestimate the knowledge you have about your body and how you are feeling.

Listen to your “gut” literally!!!  

Scientific fun fact:  The gut also has its own nervous system and does not have the ability to “doubt” like your central nervous system does.  So – always go with your “gut”, it’s never wrong ~ is really true and can serve you much more than you think!

Some foods naturally improve and “seed” the microbiome such as:

  • Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, tempeh & miso
  • Starch resistent foods such as bananas
  • Prebiotic foods such as broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, onions, leafy greens and avocado 
  • Blueberries
  • High fiber fruit & veggies
  • Diverse range of foods
  • Raw apple cider vinegar

Stress also plays a critical role in how your gut functions as well as your brain health.  Having a meditation practice in place helps reduce stress and boost your beneficial bacteria while stress kills it. An imbalanced microbiome can cause brain fog as well.

And, of course taking a high quality probiotic supplement is beneficial to your digestive health and gut flora.

Do you have digestive issues or other symptoms that might indicate that your gut is out of balance?  Please tell me in the comments.