Welcome to the health’s newest frontier: the gut microbiome!
Why should you care about it? Studies keep on showing how the microbiome influences mental health, inflammation, diabetes, etc.
Here’s are few things you should know before you get started.
Gut: The lower portion of the digestive system. Small Intestines + Large Intestines (this is where all the fun happens!)
Microbe: Single celled organism. They include bacteria, archaea, fungi, and viruses.
Flora / Gut Microbiome / Microbial Community: These are all interchangeable. Whenever you hear about these, we are talking about the bacteria, fungus, yeasts that call your body home. They live on our skin, mouth, gut, hair, etc. Most of the posts and topics of the podcast deal with gut microbes, but we care about all microbial communities! The gut flora is becoming a health hot topic thanks to its ever growing connection with disease, cancer, weight, and optimal health.
Probiotic: A microbial supplement or food that has microbes that have been show to help with digestion and promoting diversity of microbes. Basically they are good in the right dose!
Prebiotic: Food that cannot be digested by our gut alone, but by our flora. This helps grow microbes! And in turn, the flora will produce vitamins and unlockable nutrients.
Microbial Diversity: These are the thousands of different microbial species living amongst one another. According to recent studies, the higher microbial diversity, the better your health.
Fermentation: The process of bacteria breaking down foods into different acids and nutrients
Overgrowth and SIBO: SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) – This is when our flora gets an opportunistic microbe that “blooms” and creates an imbalance in the flora. It can cause a host of unpleasant symptoms. Common overgrowths that hit the news are Salmonella or E.Coli.
Small Intestines: Largest organ in the body; if spread out would cover two tennis courts. This is where we absorb our foods nutrients. Small microbial community lives here. Having too many microbes inside of the small intestines will create SIBO. This will prevent the absorption of our food.
Large Intestines: Large intestines really isn’t that large, but its diameter is bigger than the small intestines. The large intestines or colon, is a fermentation hut. This is where you will find the largest amount of microbial diversity.
Villa: These are finger like extensions that hang off our small intestines. They absorb our foods and provide safe harboring for beneficial bacterial communities in our gut. Losing the villa can happen when the gut becomes inflamed.
Leaky Gut: If the villa becomes inflamed it can create breaks in the gut lining. Since the gut is extremely sensitive (having only one cell of thickness), prolonged inflammation will create multitude of breaks in the gut. This will allow proteins, microbes, and other nonnative byproducts to flow into the blood stream. This is not good.
What does the flora do?
The flora has been shown to play an important role in maintaining ideal weight, digesting foods, and now even preventing or creating disease. By harboring a diverse group of microbes and feeding them the proper foods, you can create a happy microbial community.
Why should I care?
The best way to stop disease from effecting us is by preventing it. Adopting a healthy diet + active lifestyle will give microbes the base needed to survive and flourish in your gut.
Is everyone’s different?
Each and every flora is different. You can call it your own microbial fingerprint. But we do know there are certain microbes that provide health benefits in the right amount of numbers. More information is coming each day about the function of each and every microbe.
Can I change it?
Of course! Each meal you eat, the flora changes, constantly shifting, according to the foods we consume. This allows us to form different communities according to our lifestyle and foods. It has been shown that consuming whole foods that have fiber can help create good microbial diversity of beneficial microbes.
What is a good flora?
Good flora is a debatable topic, considering each and every one of us is unique, blood types, genes, and lifestyle all play a role in the type of flora that can be inhabited by our gut. Good flora would be flora that doesn’t produce toxic byproducts,
What is a bad flora?
A mismatch and out of balance flora is considered bad flora. There are known species that can cause gastro-distress. Everybody has their own unique match, but when you have bad flora you will know it via bad gas, poor stools, upset stomach, etc.
Can I see what type of flora I have?
uBiome testing is my go to method to check out my flora, and is a great tool to see what is going on in your gut, nose, mouth, and skin. Just swab the area you would like to examine and within a month you can see what is living in that area!
Now that you have the basics down check out these popular posts!
Oh yeah, don’t forget to check out the Gut Guardians Podcast too! Packed with interesting, knowledgeable guests who explore the outer reaches of the microbiome universe to bring us the latest information about our microbial friends.