Gut Microbiome and your Health

What is gut microbiome?

 

When we talk about gut microbiome, we are talking about the microorganisms that live in your gut (there are trillions of them, with over 1000 different species of bacteria). Everyone holds a slightly different composition – your unique composition starts in utero (your mother womb), you pick up more from your mother during birth, and from then on your unique composition is affected by (mum’s breast milk initially, or forumla), then food you eat (or don’t eat – in particular whether you eat enough plant based foods), alcohol, drugs (overuse of OCP, antibiotics, NSAID’s, PPI’s), environment, stress, and toxins (pesticides, household cleaning products, skin care). In humans alone, there are an estimated 10 times more microbiome in our bodies than there are human cells! Microbiota are the building blocks of life on earth; imagine the powerful influences that an estimated 100 trillion microorganisms living in your body have on your health.

 

The microbes in our gut influence the way our bodies function – in both health and disease. They contribute to metabolic functions, protect us from disease, help our immune system, and all of this directly & indirectly affect how we feel, and how we function.

 

What does the gut microbiome do, and how does it effect our health?

 

The key is having more of the beneficial (in quantity and diversity) and less of the non-beneficial, resulting in better health outcomes.

The influence microbiota has on our health is still hard to comprehend, and research is only just scratching the surface. We know that microbiota influences health by:

  • Keeping our bowel motions regular
  • Producing vitamins such as B12, folate, niacin and vitamin K
  • Combating and reducing inflammation (via regulation of cytokines)
  • Influencing our mood – 95% of serotonin (the happy hormone) is made in the gut. Other important mood neurotransmitters such as dopamine, GABA, acetylcholine are also influenced by gut microbiota
  • Communication with the brain via the vagus nerve (again influencing your mood!)
  • Influencing the way we digest carbohydrates & fats
  • Supporting our immune system – 75% of our immune system is in our gut
  • Preventing disease by positively influencing DNA expression
  • Regulating metabolism
  • Promoting a healthy environment in the colon
  • Preventing obesity
  • Maintaining the health and integrity of the gut lining, or gut wall
Signs and symptoms you are out of balance:

 

  • Gut: Bloating, cramping, excessive or foul smelling gas, loose stools, constipation, bad breath, white tongue
  • Skin: Eczema, psoriasis, acne, rosacea
  • Nervous system:  poor concentration, foggy brain, lack of energy, stress, anxiety, behavioural disorders in children
  • Immune system: Repeated infections, auto-immune disease, allergies, nutrient deficiencies, peeling or weak nails or hair
How to correct an imbalance, and optimise gut health

 

Start eating for your gut and your health. A wholefoods diet, rich in nutrients is a good place to start. Increase plant based foods, lower your stress levels, reduce your toxin load. Consume prebiotics & probiotics.

What are pre and probiotics?

 

Prebiotics feed healthy microbiota in the gut. Prebiotics are selective, stimulating the growth and activity of healthy bacteria (prebiotics are actually a fancy word for fibre)

Probiotics are the beneficial microbiota – each probiotic has a preference for which type of fibre to feed off. So eating a variety of prebiotics is best.

Prebiotics
Probiotics
Jerusalam artichokes, globe artichokes, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, dandelion roots

Brassica family vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts), beetroot, rye sourdough, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, linseed meal (LSA)

Legumes (kidney beans, black beans, lentils), unripe bananas, potatoes (cooked and cooled), cashews, brown rice

 

Yoghurt

Kefir

Fermented vegetables

Sauerkraut

Miso

Kombucha

Tempeh

Kimchi

 

Prebiotics and the process of fermentation in the gut produces Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs). These are extremely beneficial to the gut (and the entire body). SCFAs have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect on the gut, preventing Leaky Gut Syndrome, and toxins from entering the bloodstream.