The buzz these days is the microbiome. With the advent of new technology, the bugs in our gut are being studied like they never were before! It has become the hottest area of medicine. Microbiome research is investigating how the bacteria that live in and on our bodies affect our health. It is fascinating research that can truly transform health.
What is the microbiome?
Webster’s dictionary defines it as: “A community of microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses) that inhabit a particular environment and especially the collection of microorganisms living in or on the human body.” Different parts of your body have different microbiomes. Your skin, your nasal passages, your mouth and your gut are examples. In this blog I will write about the microbiome in your gut.
Hippocrates, known as the Father of Medicine, stated that: “All disease begins in the gut.” Many of you may be familiar with probiotics. Probiotics are microorganisms found in fermented foods and supplements. Some people call them good bacteria because they are beneficial to your health. “Pro” meaning “for” and” biotic” meaning “for life.”
Your Microbiome is a Community
If your microbiome is a community, one must look at what kind of community you are harboring. Do you have good microorganisms that enhance your health or bad microorganisms that damage your health? If you have beneficial bacteria, they all get along and support each other, there is no trouble, they communicate with your immune, nervous and hormonal systems and act in your favor. It’s a nice community, communication flows freely and if anything is off, they send signals to your brain, immune and nervous system to fix it. You feel good as a result.
Imagine this community being invaded by gangs. The gangs take over, stop cordial communication and send signals to your brain, immune and nervous system that THEY are taking over and they disrupt all of your systems. Signals of distress are sent out and the good bacteria are crowded out, signals are crossed, don’t get through or are counterproductive and chaos ensues. Many of the mechanisms to protect you become disabled.
A Dysbiosis Can Wreak Havoc on Your Health
“Dys” means “bad or difficult” and “biosis” means “life in general. “When the term dysbiosis is used, it means bad organisms and usually refers to the gut microbiome. These microorganisms have been implicated with many disorders, such as autoimmune, arthritis, dementia, heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, depression, and cardiovascular disease as well as food sensitivities. Damage to your gut lining is commonly known as “leaky gut” but doctors will call it increased intestinal permeability. When the lining of the gut leaks, things that normally would be kept out, leak through the lining and can cause inflammation. Inflammation is the root cause of most illness and back to Hippocrates, all disease begins in the gut.
What makes the gut unhealthy?
Aside from infection, stress and medications, the biggest culprit that can impair the microbiome is your diet. Some foods cause inflammation and allow bad bacteria to thrive. These are
- Sugar found in snacks, baked products, condiments, dressings, candy, etc.
- Refined carbohydrates in processed foods and grain products
- Oils that are refined and high in Omega 6 fats such as corn, canola and soybean
- Trans fats and hydrogenated oils in many packaged foods
- Animal products meat, poultry and fish that were fed grains high in omega 6 fats
- Food sensitivities that your immune system reacts to such as gluten, dairy, soy, corn
How to Restore a Healthy Microbiome
To take your neighborhood back, feed the good bacteria and crowd out the bad with food and probiotics.
- Nutrient dense fruits and vegetables in every color of the rainbow- choose low glycemic
- Fermented foods such as kombucha, sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, yogurt, kefir
- Wild, Free Range, Organic -Wild caught fish, grass fed meat, free range organic poultry
- Omega 3 fats such as fish, olive, avocado, nuts, seeds and any of their oils
- Probiotic supplements and spore-based probiotics
- Stress less and relax more with exercise, yoga, meditation, HeartMath, prayer
- Avoid antibiotics a healthy microbiome makes you less prone to infection
There are now more sensitive tests that can determine what kind of microorganisms you have in your gut. If you have inflammation and any of the chronic conditions listed above, go to a functional medicine physician who can test your stool and bring your microbiome community into better balance. Your health depends on it.