Last week we spoke a lot about leaky gut or gut permeability as the root cause of many symptoms and diseases today.
This week I want to explore the topic of microbiome.
We talk a lot about probiotics, prebiotics, and the gut flora as it relates to our microbiome, but I’m not sure we are clear on exactly how this all works together.
What is a Microbiome and Why Should You Care?
A microbe, or a microscopic organism, is a living thing that is too small to be seen with the naked eye.
It’s a general term to describe bacteria, fungi, yeast, and viruses.
A microbiome refers to the collection of the microbes living in a given community such as our intestines in our gut. The terms “flora” or “microbiota” are used interchangeably to refer to such communities of micro-organisms.
The building of such microbiome begins as soon as we are born. Our mother’s gut health, how and where we were born, and whether we were breast fed or bottle fed all play a role in the types of microbes that we acquire.
Babies pick up microbes from every person or thing that they touch and eat, and this continues throughout their lives.
The microbiome isn’t fixed; it develops over time and changes in response to our environment.
And the truth is that we are outnumbered by them by 10 to 1.
What does this mean? It means that for every 1 of our cells, there’s 10 microbes in our bodies.
So if you think about it, we are an expression of our bacteria in human form, so it’s in our best interest to be selective about which bacteria we want to coexist in our bodies.
We are the host and they are the guests in our body. And who we invite into our body largely depends on the quality of our diet.
What Does the Microbiome Do?
Until recently, bacteria in our gut was thought to play a role only in regulating bowel movements.
However, emerging research proves that our gut bacteria affects our entire body, including our brain.
The beneficial bacteria has so many functions in our body, such as synthesizing certain vitamins, helping with digestion, balancing our moods, reducing anxiety, and protecting against infections and even some forms of cancer.
Strains of good bacteria in the gut also help to lower our tendencies toward obesity, diabetes, and various gut dysfunctions.
We can run into bad situations when there are not enough good bacteria and too many bad bacteria in the microbiome. This can cause us to develop serious illnesses which then can lead to disease.
The good bacteria can be negatively affected by stress, surgery, illness, trauma, and unhealthy eating habits.
Antibiotic use can kill bad bacteria but also kills the good, so it’s important to supplement with good probiotics when given antibiotics.
We can also do our part to help support the good bacteria by eating foods that feed the good bacteria and avoiding foods that feed the bad bacteria.
Feeding the Good Microbiome
Our food choices have the biggest impact on our gut flora. Our microbes help us to absorb the nutrients from food we otherwise would not be able to digest.
Different microbes thrive on different types of food. You can stimulate growth of good bacteria again by taking the right strains of good probiotics and eating specific foods that provide prebiotics, which the probiotics need to thrive.
Due to poor diet, chronic stress, and our reliance on medications, we’ve killed off our good bacteria and are a host for bad parasitic bacteria.
Bad bacteria loves sugar and toxins, and they cause us to feel awful. They’ve been linked to weight gain, hormone dysregulation, autoimmune conditions, and digestive problems.
Remember, last week I talked about the importance of beginning with gut restoration and repair as the first line of defense when building our health.
When we have too much of the bad and not enough of the good, we get frequent yeast infections, brain fog, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, diverticulitis, sinus infections, flu, colds, etc. which then can act as the “trigger” to create an innate immune response, then eventually leading to an acquired immune response, and potentially setting off our body into full disease mode, which may include emerging autoimmune conditions.
So let’s talk about what you can do.
Tips For Maintaining a Healthy Microbiome
- Stay hydrated, everyday drink 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of water or non-caffeinated beverages that are free of added sugars.
- Eat both pre and probiotic foods. Click here for a list of these foods.
- Eat plenty of high fiber vegetables.
- Limit or avoid processed foods to which you are sensitive, intolerant, or allergic. Some common foods are corn, dairy, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, soy, tree nuts, and wheat (gluten).
- Take antibiotics only when absolutely necessary. During and after completing a course of antibiotics, eat probiotic foods and take a probiotic supplement. This can help rebuild the population of healthy bacteria in your gut.
Some supplements for gut support include:
I hope you enjoyed this blog, I’ll see you next time!