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The influence of intestinal microbiomes on your health

Published on July 23, 2015 by Dr. Myra Reed

It’s amazing to think that you could be carrying up to four pounds of microbiomes in your gut. What are microbiomes? Basically, microbiomes are the population of microbes (bacteria) that live inside your body starting in your mouth and going all the way to the colon. These bacteria are responsible for many functions including the breakdown of food—ensuring that the vitamins and nutrients in them are released for absorption into our bodies.

But microbiomes do much more.

Approximately 2/3 of these biologic helpers are unique to your body—and their role can greatly influence your weight, immunity, and overall health.  Researchers are continuing to study the role bacteria play in the body, but here’s what we know:

    • The more diverse your bacteria, the better. Researchers have found that babies who had less diverse bacteria in their guts by 3 months of age were more likely to develop sensitivities to eggs, milk or peanuts by their first birthday. This means a lack of unique gut bacteria may be a precursor to food allergies. In short, the more types of good bacteria in your digestive tract, the better your chance of good health.
    • Certain strains may raise your risk for obesity.  One New York-based study identified a specific strain of healthy intestinal bacteria in the guts of people with lower body weights.  The bacteria’s presence is mostly influenced by genetics.
    • Gut microbiomes influence your mental health. It’s amazing to think about—but gut bacteria produce a wide range of good neurochemicals the brain uses for the regulation of psychological and mental processes. This includes chemicals essential for learning and mood—the gut produces 95% of the body’s mood-boosting serotonin.
    • 70% of your immunity is in your gut. Most people never realize that so much of their body’s health lies in the digestive tract, but it does. This system is your body’s main route of contact with the outside environment and is home to the majority of your immune cells.
    • Leaky gut influences the entire body. Normally our cells in our gut only allow small nutrients to pass through them.  Inflammation, yeast, or an imbalance in the healthy bacteria of the gut can enlarge the pores between the cells of the intestine. This process is known as leaky gut. Leaky gut allows larger particles and toxins to make their way into the bloodstream where the body recognizes them as foreign objects and works to remove them. This triggers inflammation, auto-immune issues, food allergies, bloating, and a host of health problems.

Can I improve my microbiome health?

The health (or lack of) of your gut can be largely influenced by what you eat and the environment around you. While some microbiomes are passed to us by our parents, many others can be supported through a healthy lifestyle such as:

  •  Decreasing stress by meditation/prayer, proper sleep, moderate exercise daily,    yoga, relaxation enjoyments.
  • Taking high quality probiotics with many strains of healthy bacteria
  • Using mineral or vitamin supplements you could be deficient in

Researchers suggest that you can raise the diversity of your gut bacteria by consuming healthy foods including:

  • Miso, kefir, sauerkraut to raise fermenting bacteria in the gut
  • Non GMO Fruits and vegetables

Boosting the health of your good intestinal bacteria takes time and guidance from someone who understands this delicate balance.  The proper advanced stool testing can help guide the proper diagnosis and treatments.  I feel strongly that our bodies can tell us a great deal about its health and warn us about potential problems long before they develop. Using the information we can gather from your microbiomes and also supporting them with the right foods and nutrients may help you stay healthy longer. If you are ready to learn more, give me a call today. Together we can unravel the digestion mystery and take prevention to a new level.

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