Have you noticed the terms microbiome and gut flora around a lot lately? This is an exciting topic because more and more scientific research is linking these little organisms to the some big health issues. We would like to answer these 4 questions for you…What is a microbiome? How does the microbiome of the gut (aka gut flora) affect major health issues? How do I tell if I have an unhealthy gut flora? How do I restore an unhealthy gut flora?
So What Is It?
Microbiome is the total collection of miniscule organisms that cover the human body inside and out. Gut flora are the microbiome in your digestive tract. All of these tiny little organisms work together to keep the body systematically functioning and healthy. If any of these organisms become out of balance there are consequences on the body. For instance: one little organism in the gut is called Methanogen. Too much of it gives you gas. Too much of that makes you not popular to be around.
That Gut Feeling
A healthy balance of microorganisms in the gut, or digestive tract, is viewed by most as the most important area of the body to maintain. That makes sense doesn’t it? The gut is where the body processes all of the things it needs to function (vitamins, minerals, nutrients, water, fiber, fat, etc … ) and it communicates with the brain about what the body is needing or feeling. For example, I’m tired and need coffee, or, I’m stressed and need chocolate!
Gut Flora and Your Health
Specific microorganisms in our gut are now being linked to causing or preventing common health and wellness issues. More and more discoveries are being made on some specific health conditions that are becoming major concerns in our country and the link to certain microbiomes in the gut.
Diabetes and Obesity-
Research has uncovered specific microbiomes in the gut that link to obesity and diabetes. Studies have found significant differences in the amount of certain microbiomes in obese vs healthy individuals. One study in which typical mice were given these certain microbiomes and the same diet and physical activity as other mice that some became obese while others did not. With findings like these, scientists are hopeful to one day be use this information to prevent and/or treat obesity and diabetes.
Stress, Anxiety & Depression-
Gut flora is also being linked to behavior and mood disorders. 90 percent of the neurotransmitter serotonin is manufactured in your gut which plays an important role in mood control and depression. Scientists are finding certain beneficial bacteria that may serve the same role as antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. Studies in which mice were given certain gut microbiomes repeatedly showed an increase in mood boosting neurotransmitters in these mice. Studies with humans that yielded the same results as mice. Individuals given specific microbiomes resulted in lowered anxiety and higher levels of neurotransmitters that antidepressants are commonly used to increase.
Our Children’s Health-
Children on the Autism spectrum, and with other behavioral or chronic health issues, have been found to have distinctly different microbiomes compared to typical children. Many neurologists, nutritionists and parents believe that treating a compromised gut helps with adverse symptoms of these issues. The GAPS diet is a popular and suggested strategy to help restore the gut flora of children experiencing behavioral issues. Read more about this and the GAPS diet at these sites.
Signs your Gut Flora may need some Restoration:
- Digestive stress – gas/bloating etc
- Mental stress – anxiety/depression etc
- Skin conditions – acnes/eczema etc
- Frequent use of antibiotics – Antibiotics kill off bad bacteria in your gut, as well as the good microbes which can not restore themselves. This can cause an imbalance.
- Unhealthy diet – Processed, refined foods in general will destroy healthy microflora and feed bad bacteria and yeast, so limiting or eliminating these from your diet should be at the top of your list.
How to Balance a Healthy Flora
- Diet, exercise, and sleep are the most important factors influencing the gut microbiome balance. Lack of sleep, too much stress, and too little exercise can have a negative effect on your gut microbiome as well. Check out our blogs with tips on reducing stress, sleeping better, and exercising more:
- Avoid foods that may cause an inflammatory response in the gut such as processed food, coffee, sugar, grains and dairy. Foods high in fiber and low in sugar help maintain a healthy flora.
- Detox Programs and detox supporting supplements can help rid your gut of toxic buildup.
- Probiotics are “good” bacteria that help keep your digestive system healthy by controlling growth of harmful bacteria. We highly recommend Prescript Assist as one of the highest quality and most effect pre/probiotics on the market. Other natural probiotic/prebiotics include fermented foods, yogurts and kefir. Check out our entire selection of high quality Probiotics.
Have you loved your microbiome today?
Total health is obtained from caring for you body from the inside out, and we are discovering that it all begins in the gut. The microbiome world is continously being studied and many amazing discoveries are being made. Scientists are hopeful these findings will produce solutions and alternative treatments to many serious health issues. For MUCH more scientific and detailed explanations check out these great articles and sites: