The Year Of The Doctor :
During 2019, I worked with 5 different medical professionals to help heal my gut.; The short story is, Dena Norton, who I continue to work with, played a pivotal role in bringing health back to my life. But there is more to the story, so Ill start from the beginning.;
The Holistic Nutritionist: Understanding western medicine often overlooks root causes, I began by seeing a Holistic Health Specialist who did muscle testing in order to determine my ailments as well as the supplements that could be beneficial to me. While the supplements did help, the muscle testing did not uncover the root cause of my gut issues. Even though my symptoms improved slightly, they only did so for a short time, as the root cause was still present.
The Gastroenterologist: Being the science-minded person I am, I acknowledged that alternative medicine has its place but so wanted more testing and scientific backing. I went to a gastroenterologist who gave me a colonoscopy, endoscopy, and had me take a blood test for Celiac. He also had me take two standard stool tests. Everything came back normal. Still, I was experiencing nasty gut symptoms. This entire experience did nothing to advance me, but rather helped me rule out things I didnt have.
The Functional Medicine Doctor: Reverting back to what I believe to be true, I went to a functional health doctor who happens to be one of the leading gut doctors in the country. Ill skip a long story and say I didnt get what I needed out of the experience.
The Contest Within The Microbiome
Commensal bacteria are able to be maintained in the body without being attacked by the immune system due to the protective layer of mucus that lines various organs in which they reside. When pathogens enter into the same environment as your good bacteria, they have to compete for who will get to remain in the safety of the mucus lining and who will get thrown out to be destroyed by the immune system. ;If there is already a great amount of commensal bacteria covering the lining of your intestines, it will be hard for the pathogenic bacteria to find a place to attach in order to keep from being swept away into the deadly abyss of the immune system. ;Commensal bacteria can also take matters into their own hands by releasing bacteriocins to destroy pathogenic bacteria that are in the same species preventing the pathogens from having the chance to colonize. ;Conversely, if there is not a well-established population of commensal bacteria within your body, the pathogenic bacteria are able to find places to attach, grow, and multiply, leading to infection. ;Inflammation is a common immune response used by your body to fight the infection that is caused by the overgrowth of these pathogens. ;If there is a chronic overgrowth of pathogens, the immune system is going to be continuously working to destroy the pathogens.
Ways To Improve The Gut Microbiome
Not too long ago it was common practice to write off mood or neurological disorders as a poor mentality. Chronic headaches and inflammation were thought of as normal parts of life. There are more conditions like this that we just didnt fully understand for a long time.. until we took a deeper dive into the complexity of the gut microbiome.
As more evidence comes out and our understanding of what goes on in the gut gets deeper, it has become very apparent that the health of our gut, to a pretty huge extent, determines many other aspects of overall health. What Im saying is, looking for ways to improve the gut microbiome may just change your life.
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Dysbiosis And Your Gut Microbiome
Your gut contains around two-thirds of your immune system cells, in whats called the gut-associated lymphoid tissue. It also helps run your metabolism, produce vitamins, and store neurotransmitters. Its role in the functioning of your body is so central that it has its own nervous system – the enteric nervous system which contains more neurons than your spinal cord.
Your gut microbiome is another miracle. It contains over 100 trillion microorganisms, which means that your body has 10 times more microbial cells than human cells and 100 times more microbial DNA than human DNA. In total, thats around four pounds of organisms living inside your body. So its important that you are a good host and take care of their well-being and balance so they treat you well too.
Many people, however, neglect the health of their gut. They eat unhealthy diets, rely too much on certain medications , drink too much alcohol, eat too much sugar, lead a sedentary lifestyle, get exposed to toxins, eat foods theyre sensitive to, let stress run their lives, and dont get enough sleep.
All of these factors, among others, can affect the balance of your gut microbiome. And when your gut microbiome is out of balance a state called dysbiosis your guts lining can begin to create leaks.
Its important to note that genetics also play a role, although your diet and lifestyle choices can overrule genetic vulnerability to gut microbiome imbalance. Your choices do make a difference.
The Role Of Probiotics
If microbiota are so vital to our health, how can we ensure that we have enough or the right types? You may be familiar with probiotics or perhaps already using them. These are either foods that naturally contain microbiota, or supplement pills that contain live active bacteriaadvertised to promote digestive health. Probiotic supplement sales exceeded $35 billion in 2015, with a projected increase to $65 billion by 2024. Whether you believe the health claims or think they are yet another snake oil scam, they make up a multi-billion dollar industry that is evolving in tandem with quickly emerging research.
Because probiotics fall under the category of supplements and not food, they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. This means that unless the supplement company voluntarily discloses information on quality, such as carrying the USP seal that provides standards for quality and purity, a probiotic pill may not contain the amounts listed on the label or even guarantee that the bacteria are alive and active at the time of use.
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Microbes And Vaccine Efficacy
When a once-promising HIV vaccine failed completely in a global trial, that result may have been due to interference from common bacteria in the human gut. Instead of producing new antibodies against HIV, the experimental vaccine awakened old antibodies formed against gut bacteria acquired during early childhood. Dr. James Kublin helped oversee the HIV vaccine trial and is now studying how gut microbes can alter immune responses. This work could lead to a better HIV vaccine as well as show how the immune response to gut bacteria might be tapped to develop more effective vaccines of all kinds.
Move Your Body Regularly
Getting regular exercise is also an important step in getting your gut into a balanced state. According to one research review on the effects of exercise on the gut microbiome, aerobic exercise can increase the amount of bacteria in your digestive tract and contribute to overall bacterial diversity.
While any movement can help, it appears that the more physically fit you are, the more diverse your microbiome is. If youre sedentary, start small by exercising a couple days a week, then work your way up to including exercise as part of your regular, everyday routine.
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How The Gut Microbiome Affects The Body
Although it might seem that gut health would mainly impact digestion, scientists are discovering that the gut microbiome can actually affect your overall health. Your body needs a diversity of gut bacteria and evolves as you age, Dr. Patterson explains. The greater the diversity that exists in the gut microbiome, the better it is for your health.
When you have an imbalance of gut microbes, this can lead to whats known as dysbiosis. Dysbiosis has been connected with conditions like obesity, due to not having a healthy microbiome and poor gut health, Patterson says.
In addition, dysbiosis may contribute to conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, and colon cancer, according to a scientific review published in August 2018 in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.
Changes in the gut microbiome have also been noted in diabetes, liver disease, and even neurodegenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis, according to a review published in June 2018 in the journal Gut.
In addition, studies have shown a link between heart health and the gut. Some gut microbiome produce a chemical called trimethylamine N-oxide , which blocks arteries, Patterson says. High levels of TMAO are associated with a higher risk of heart disease and early death, according to a June 2018 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Functional Problems Associated With Loss Of A Healthy Microbiome:
- Increased levels of systemic inflammation, from gut to brain.
- Abnormalities in gut functionpain, bloating and gas, constipation, diarrhea, and reflux.
- Increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease.
- Impact of inflammation and microbial metabolic products on brain functionleading to problems with mood , behavior, executive function, and thinking.
- Detoxification impairment.
- Problems with nutrient availability and assimilation.
- Immune system problems, leading to greater illness.
- Increased risk of autoimmune disorders.
- Higher risk of environmental allergies and asthma.
- Loss of critical energy reserve.
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What Other Fermented Foods Do I Love To Eat Or Drink
So, what other fermented foods do I eat or drink on a regular basis to heal the gut? I go for kombucha, water or fruit kefir, tempeh and unpasteurized fermented vegetables found in Europe, such as fermented beets, sauerkraut, etc.
Kombucha is my favorite probiotic-rich drinks. When I have stomach issues, I love to drink kombucha with ginger in it.
If I am making my own fermented drink, kefir is pretty cool because you can make it super fast! Unlike some foods that take weeks or months to ferment, this drink can be made within 2-3 days, depending on how warm it is in your home.
;One of my husbands favorites is kimchi, ita Korean dish that is made with fermented cabbage and spices. My husband loves spicy foods, so its great for him. Me, spices are an issue for my stomach, so I cant really enjoy it
Tempeh is from Indonesia and its so easy to cook it with your veggies and a little tamari sauce. Its simple but delicious! Its also made of fermented soybean but its more compact and solid than the other soy fermented foods we discussed in this article.
Dysbiosis: What Is It And How To Heal Your Microbiome
Are you experiencing stomach pains, gas, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, brain fog, concentration difficulties, anxiety, pain, or other unexplained symptoms? The answer may be in your gut. Gut dysbiosis refers to microbiome imbalance that may develop as a result of various dietary, lifestyle, environmental, and health factors. Gut dysbiosis can lead to a variety of chronic symptoms and chronic health problems. Fortunately, once you identify the gut flora imbalance, you can address the root cause of your problems, improve your microbiome, and eliminate gut dysbiosis.
In this article, you will learn what dysbiosis is. You will understand the main symptoms and major causes of gut dysbiosis. I will explain the connection between leaky gut syndrome and gut dysbiosis. I will share the top home and lab testing strategies for gut dysbiosis and gut health, and offer my top natural support strategies for gut dysbiosis.
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Ways That A Healthy Microbiome Influences Our Energy And Health:
- Provides barrier protection at the outermost lining of the gut .
- Supports healthy gut function.
- Assists with detoxification and the breakdown of toxic wastes.
- Protects us from pathogens and foreign invaders.
- Protects us from toxins, irritants, and disease.
- Breaks down our food to provide us with enhanced nutritionthey digest complex carbohydrates in our diets and manufacture key nutrients like vitamins K, B12, niacin, and pyridoxine.
- Calibrates and controls our immune system, and reduces inflammation.
- Influences our thoughts, mood, and behavior through interactions with our nervous systems.
- Controls our metabolism and body fat.
- Supports healthy sleep.
Stress Can Itself Increase Inflammation For Instance Which Can Then Affect The Microbes In Our Gut
Gut microbes also influence how we digest and metabolise the precursors of important neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Our gut flora even has a direct line of communication to the brain, through the vagus nerve, which has receptors near the gut lining that allow it to keep a check on our digestion. Microbes in the intestine can therefore release chemical messengers that alter the signalling of the vagus nerve and, as a consequence, the brains activity. Locally in the gut, theres a lot of opportunity for the bacteria to communicate with the host systems including the nervous system, says Foster. Its a very dynamic, interactive, rich space.
These pathways are not one-way streets however, so brain activity can also influence the gut flora composition. Stress can itself increase inflammation, for instance, which can then affect the microbes in our gut. The result could be a kind of feedback loop.
Foster says research in this field is now rapidly accelerating, conducted both by university scientists and commercial companies; academic meetings, discussing the findings, are now dime-a-dozen every week.
Ultimately, these researchers hope that their findings will offer a new treatment target for illnesses such as depression.
Researchers who dosed germfree mice with a strain of “friendly” bacteria found they had much less serious reactions to stress
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What Is A Healthy Microbiome
Healthy, or my favorite wordoptimalall relates back to function: how do the changes in our microbiome alter function and impact our health? After reviewing the list of attributes that a healthy microbiome has on our energy and health , science has made it clear that losing any of these key attributes of our microbiome will adversely effect our health. We need their diversity , optimal quantity, and the strength of particular species to support our health and prevent disease.
Processed Foods Usually Mean Less Fiber
Refined foods that dont contain whole grains or whole wheat are also lower in fiber. This includes white bread and regular pasta. Juicing is also processed in a sense, since it removes the insoluble fiber from your food. The result is that you lose fibers benefits especially its important job of regulating digestion and keeping blood sugar from spiking.
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What Causes Gut Balance Issues
Poor diet is one of biggest causes of gut imbalance. While good bacteria thrive on things like fiber and plant foods, bad bacteria and yeast love processed foods and sugar. And when your diet is full of processed foods and sugar, as many Western diets are, the well-fed bad bacteria start to overtake the good. Your diet is so important that it can cause undesirable changes in gut health even in a short period of time.
However, while diet is certainly important, it isnt the only thing that matters. Other factors that can contribute to gut issues include:
- Alcohol intake
Nutrition And The Gut Microbiome
On March 23, 2021, the Harvard Gazette published an article called In the gut microbiome, at least, its nurture, not nature. It begins with a statement that is gradually being proved to be incontrovertibly true:
We are what we eat, and so are our microbiomes
As I did above with the New York Times article, Ill cut to the chase in summarizing this one. In her review of human evolutionary biologist Rachel Carmodys recent study about the role of genetics vs environment on the gut microbiota, Harvard Correspondent Clea Simon makes two points.
Genetics plays a small role on the microbiome as compared to environmental influences, such as diet
Dr. Carmodys research on several different mammals, including humans, reveals that diet not only changes the gut biome, but does so fast. She said:
Within 24 hours of seeing a new diet, the gut microbiome looks and behaves very different.
The gut microbiome substantially impacts human health
The internal environment of the gut microbiome has been linked to a range of human diseases, including metabolic diseases like atherosclerosis and Type 2 diabetes, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and autoimmune disorders.
Dr. Carmodys research findings are underscored by an earlier study published in 2017 called Nutrition and the gut microbiome in the elderly. What follows are two key findigns of the study.
Nutrition is a key component of aging healthily, but unfortunately, many older people eat too little and eat non-nutritious foods
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How To Heal Your Gut With Fermented Japanese Foods
Do you have regularly digestive issues like being bloated or having gas or being constipated? Well, maybe your microbiome is unbalanced? Its probably time to try some amazing japanese fermented foods to heal your gut!
When I went to Japan last year, I thought I already knew Japanese food . But trust me you have to go there and taste it for yourself. Its so amazing!!! Not only was it super delicious but it was also so healthy .
Though, one thing that surprised me was how much they ate fermented foods. That made my stomach so happy! My stomach has had a lot of health issues over time, so its super sensitive to lots of foods and gets out of balance pretty easily. Combining eating fermented foods with the 9 cups of vegetables that I described in this other article has made me so much healthier!
If you also have a fragile stomach, food intolerances, a leaky gut or you simply feel that you need to feed your gut some foods to make it healthier, keep on reading!