What Is Gut Bacteria
The gut microbiome is often referred to as our second brain. Each persons gut microbiome is unique, like a microbial fingerprint, and is shaped by both your genetics and your environment.
Your microbiome begins to develop in infancy. It is affected by your mothers health, your type of birth , your breastfeeding history, and many additional factors including your geography, diet, and medication use.
Having an entire ecosystem of microscopic organisms in our bodies may sound concerning. But in fact, many of these organisms are essential to our health. They help with the immune system, digesting food, producing hormones that help control appetite, and synthesizing vitamins and essential nutrients including short chain fatty acids .
Other Great Resources For Learning About The Microbiome And Fmt Treatments
For now, understanding the microbiome better in all aspects and treating it with procedures such as FMT is the best science has to offer. There is still a lot of work to be done to build the perfect microbiome. Dr Jens Walter says I think in 30 or 40 years well be able to colonize infants with specific bacteria we know are health-promoting and shape the microbiome in a beneficial way setting up peoples microbiomes to be resilient and balanced for life.
If youre interested in learning more about this process, these great articles can help you along the way:
Exercise For Both You And Your Microbes
Regular physical activity is not only good for your heart, but it is also good for your gut, too. Studies recently showed that some of the lactate produced during exercise can impact certain gut microbes â although we donât yet know how and why. Start slow if you havenât had regular physical activity as part of your daily life. If you start on New Yearâs, by Valentineâs Day you could be walking daily, or doing some time of activity that you like, to help your heart, mind and gut.
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If You Can Breastfeed For At Least 6 Months
A babys microbiome begins to properly develop at birth. However, studies suggest that babies may be exposed to some bacteria even before birth .
During the first 2 years of life, an infants microbiome is continuously developing and is rich in beneficial Bifidobacteria, which can digest the sugars found in breast milk .
Many studies have shown that infants who are fed formula have an altered microbiome with fewer Bifidobacteria than infants who are breastfed (
A number of studies have shown that vegetarian diets may benefit the gut microbiome, which may be due to their high fiber content.
For example, one small 2013 study found that a vegetarian diet led to reduced levels of disease-causing bacteria in people with obesity, as well as reductions in body weight, inflammation, and cholesterol levels .
A 2019 review noted that plant foods are rich in specific nutrients that can increase levels of beneficial bacteria and decrease harmful strains of bacteria to support gut health .
However, it is unclear if the benefits of a vegetarian diet on the gut microbiome are due to a lack of meat intake or if other factors may also play a role.
Vegetarian and vegan diets may improve the microbiome. However, it is unclear if the positive effects associated with these diets can be attributed to a lack of meat intake or if other factors may be involved.
Why Is Gut Health Significant
Everybodys microbiome is exceptional, yet there are a couple of sweeping statements regarding whats sound and so forth. In solid individuals, there is an assorted exhibit of creatures, says Dr Gail Hecht, the seat of the American Gastroenterological Association Center for Gut Microbiome Research and Education. In an undesirable individual, theres substantially less variety, and there is by all accounts an increment of microbes we partner with sickness.
Hecht focuses on the word partner since researchers dont know without a doubt which starts things outregardless of whether microorganisms impact infection hazard or whether existing illness impacts gut microbes. In all likelihood, she says, both are valid. Were deficient with regards to explicit verification of the way this functions. However, we know its there.
A few microbes battle irritation, while others advance it. When the gut fills in as it ought to, these two kinds hold each other in line. However, when that fragile equilibrium gets slanted, incendiary microorganisms can dominateand they can deliver metabolites that pass through the covering of the gut and into the circulatory system, spreading the irritation to different pieces of the body.
Dont Give Up Cheese In The Name Of Gut Health
Could cheese be good for gut health? It seems increasingly likely. A study conducted by the American Chemical Society found that people who ate cheese had higher levels of a certain byproduct of gut bacteria thats been associated with a reduction in cholesterol. Theres a caveat, however: Maurice says its mostly unpasteurized cheeses that have those good-for-you microbes.
Find out 14 more foods you should stop demonizing.
Have Probiotics For Gut Health
Probiotic supplements help support gut health by adding beneficial bacteria to your gut microbiome. You can get probiotics in fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and kefir, as well as probiotic supplements.
One caveat herenot all probiotics are the same. Some strains can increase your levels of histamine, the same chemical your body produces during an allergic reaction. Too much histamine causes inflammation in the body. This largely depends on your own biology some people tolerate fermented foods like tempeh and miso, while others feel bloated, sluggish or foggy after eating histamine-rich foods.
Learn everything you need to know about probiotics, how they work and which strains to avoid.
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Identify And Eliminate Your Specific Food Triggers
While there are some foods, like refined sugars, that are known to contribute to gut imbalance in most people, its possible that you have specific food sensitivities and personalized nutrition needs when it comes to optimizing your gut health.
If you keep eating the a food that you’re sensitive to, it can lead to immune reactivity and contributes to gut imbalance. The key to good gut health is identifying and eliminating your food triggers to allow your gut to thrive.
The simplest way to identify individual food response differences is an elimination diet, in which you eliminate common food triggers for 30 days and then slowly reintroduce them, looking out for how you feel along the journey. Several companies offer at-home testing kits that you can use to confirm which food may be your personal triggers.
While the science behind these food sensitivity testing may not be perfect, if you are able to identify some of your food triggers, eliminating them for at least 30 days could help get your gut on the path to success.
Gut Health Starts Young
You get your first dose of microbes as youre being born, when you pass through your mothers birth canal. From there, your microbiome changes during the first couple of years of life, influenced by microbes in breast milk, antibiotics and your first solid foods. Your gut microbiota stabilizes around the age of 3. This early development of intestinal flora is critical because it sets the tone for your gut healthfor life.
Scientists have started taking a much closer look at the gut microbiome and its connection to almost everything in the body. A gut thats out of balance can lead to all kinds of challenges. Its actually tough to find a condition thats not connected to gut health in some way because it can impact everything from your weight to your well-being.
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How Microbiome Health Can Cause Chronic Illness
When it comes to chronic illnesses its hard to know how or when you contracted it. In fact, its one of the most frustrating things for those with chronic disease, and those who treat it.
It is widely appreciated that there is a connection between the microbiome and chronic inflammatory diseases, but the specifics of how or why the microbiome is affecting the body in such a way is still to be determined. The discovery that these microbes might set in very early in life, is a step in the direction of cracking the code. This is the main research that has already been completed:
Tips To Keep Your Gut Balanced
Maintaining a well-functioning gut is clearly important. The good news? There are many simple ways to accomplish this:
Eat foods and drink beverages that support your gut. Fermented foods help to form a good microbiome for example, yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir, suggests Patterson. Kombucha is another beverage choice thats rich in good-for-your-gut bacteria. In addition, teas like ginger, chamomile, and peppermint can also help to aid the gastrointestinal system.
Minimize foods and drinks that can throw off your gut. Alcohol, caffeine, fried foods, and carbonated beverages can aggravate your gut microbiome, according to Patterson.
Consider a probiotic supplement. If youre looking to support a specific aspect of your health, probiotic supplements can be used to help rebalance the gastrointestinal system. The most common strains include lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and saccharomyces, which have been shown to help regulate the immune response, says Patterson. Consult a source such as the Alliance for Education on Probiotics to find out which strain may help your particular health concerns, or talk to your doctor or a dietitian. Some other supplements known to support gut health include l-glutamine and zinc carnosine, Patterson adds.
While theres still much for researchers to learn, its clear that a healthy gut microbiome can benefit not just your digestion but your overall physical and emotional health, as well.
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How Inflammation Affects Gut Health
Scientists have estimated that about 70% of the immune system lives in the gut microbiome. The function of the immune system is to protect us from invadersto tell apart the cells of our own body from other cells that dont belong to us.
If the immune system thinks the body is being invaded, it will mount an immune response, Bard says. In some cases, that immune response happens too often in reaction to foods we eat as well as environmental chemicals known as endotoxins. Inflammation is the manifestation of an immune system thats out of balance.
This ongoing overreaction can affect the balance of bacteria in the gut and even the integrity of the gut liningthat is, how well the gut lining does its job. Endotoxins and undesirable bacteria products eventually may leak through the gut lining and into the bloodstream. The immune system identifies these substances as foreign and mounts an attack, causing chronic inflammation.
Eat Prebiotic And Probiotic Foods
There are two types of foods that can help you manage your gut ecosystem. The first, prebiotic foods, contain fiber that the body doesnt digest. While that might sound alarming initially, the undigested fibers serve as fuel for the healthy microorganisms in your microbiome.
The second, probiotic foods, are the ones with which youre probably most familiar. Unlike prebiotics, foods rich in probiotics contain living, active microorganisms that join the community of friendly microbes in your gut.
When working to strengthen your microbiome, prebiotic foods to consider include:
- Other fermented vegetables
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Impact Of The Gut Microbiome
The genetic makeup of two human beings is more or less similar. But the human microbiome is the other way round, and it is unique among individuals.
When you take the two identical twins, their genetic makeup is similar. Still, the gut microbiome is entirely different almost all the time. This explains why one is thinner while the other is obese in identical twins. Or one has some disease, and the other does not have it.
How To Improve Gut Health Naturally
At any given moment, there are trillions of bacteria living in your gut. Known as a microbiome, this culture of microscopic organisms is essential to gut health, playing a role in everything from the digestion of food to the regulation of metabolism. Whats more, research suggests the condition of your microbiome can also impact your mood and your ability to fend of illness.
Although the market is saturated with expensive probiotics that can give your microbiome a boost, it turns out you can actually change your internal ecosystem simply by adapting your lifestyle.
The gut microbiota is very dynamic, so if you start taking up healthy food habits, it will respond and will modify very quicklyeven within 48 hours, says Corinne Maurice, an assistant professor at McGill University, who is also the Canada Research Chair in Gut Microbial Physiology and a CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar for Humans and the Microbiome. But to improve gut health in the long-term, you need to stick to those healthy habits, because the benefits can disappear just as quickly. Heres expert advice on how to improve gut health naturally.
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What Is The Best Diet For Gut Health
Eating for gut health is a real thing, according to recent research. Findings suggest that diets rich in whole-foods support a healthy gut, while diets higher in processed foods and added sugars dont.
This means that having fresh, unprocessed foods such as vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, and whole grains, for example, may be best for your health.
Whats the differentiator? A processed diet lacks enough fiber an essential nutrient that helps good microbes to thrive in the gut.
Microbiome And Disease: How Improving Microbiome Health Cures Illness
The connection between the microbiome and health is still being researched. Many of these studies are attempting the manipulate the microbiome, using FMT and other methods. So far, it is working to treat diseases such as Colitis, Autism and Parkinsons Disease. In fact, Dr. Majdi Osman, from OpenBiome, says that they are currently supporting trials looking at Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Metabolic Syndrome, peanut allergy, and even looking at things such as Multiple Sclerosis and Anorexia.
When we spoke to Dr. Thomas Borody, he told us about his successes treating both autism and Parkinsons using FMT. Weve done a couple of patients whose Parkinsons markedly disappeared with FMT, said Dr. Borody. He added, People have been asking what the connection is between Parkinsons disease and the microbiome and the flat simple answer is, we dont know. But there are lots of clues. Though, the connection is not concrete yet, there has been success in treating patients using microbiome manipulation techniques. However anecdotal, it shows that the connection is far beyond speculation at this point. While we are trying to figure out how to manipulate the microbiome for the better, through practices like FMT, there are factors that can disrupt it for the worse.
Eat Foods Rich In Polyphenols
Polyphenols are plant compounds that have many health benefits, including reductions in blood pressure, inflammation, cholesterol levels, and oxidative stress .
Human cells cant always digest polyphenols. Because they arent absorbed efficiently, most polyphenols make their way to the colon, where they are digested by gut bacteria (
Polyphenols from cocoa can increase the amount of Bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in humans and reduce the quantity of Clostridia .
Furthermore, these changes in the microbiome are associated with lower levels of triglycerides and C-reactive protein, which is a marker of inflammation .
The polyphenols in red wine have similar effects and have even been shown to increase levels of beneficial bacteria in people with metabolic syndrome .
Polyphenols cant be digested efficiently by human cells, but they are efficiently broken down by the gut microbiota. They may improve several health outcomes related to heart disease and inflammation.
The Difference Between Prebiotics And Probiotics
When youre looking to increase your gut diversity and maintain a healthy gut flora, youll often come across prebiotics and probiotics. Although the names sound similar, the two are very different.
Prebiotic is a specific type of dietary fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your gut. In order for the good bacteria to thrive, you need to eat prebiotic foods to nourish the bacteria.
On the other hand, probiotics are live bacteria that you can find in fermented foods and probiotic supplements. There are a lot of different probiotic species. As prebiotics feed the good bacteria and probiotics introduce live bacteria, its a good idea to eat a combination of both types of foods.
With probiotics, you also have SBO probiotics . SBO probiotics occur naturally in the soil. These types of organisms tend to be more acid resistant and able to survive the harsh environment in the digestive system.
If youre thinking about using a probiotic supplement, its useful to find a product that uses SBO probiotics. SBO probiotics can seed themselves in the digestive tract and promote a balanced microbiome. Probiotic supplements are a simple way to boost your microbiome diversity and promote a healthy gut.
Learn more about SBO Probiotics here.
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How To Improve Gut Health Naturally And Reduce Inflammation
Because inflammation is at the root of so many issues, resolving that inflammation through natural means will improve gut health in many ways, explains Bard.
Chronic inflammation just makes everything harder, she says. The organs have to work harder when everythings out of balance. The body wants to achieve homeostasis . With inflammation, it cant do it. Cleaning up the gut can help reduce some of the chronic inflammation in the body.
As a nutritionist, Bard emphasizes that what we eat and drink directly affects our gut microbiome. She believes that a diverse, whole-foods diet that feeds the good bacteria in the gut is the best way to minimize inflammation and maintain a healthy gut microbiome. That means foods that come from the earth or animals that have sacrificed their lives for us to eat.
Heres how to improve gut health through exercise, stress management, and a healthy diet centered on protein, healthy fat, and healthy carbohydrates in the form of fruits, vegetables, and grains.