Microbiota Diversity And Health
Lower bacterial diversity has been reproducibly observed in people with inflammatory bowel disease,31 psoriatic arthritis,32 type 1 diabetes,33 atopic eczema,34 coeliac disease,35 obesity,36 type 2 diabetes,37 and arterial stiffness,38 than in healthy controls. In Crohns disease smokers have even lower gut microbiome diversity.39 The association between reduced diversity and disease indicates that a species-rich gut ecosystem is more robust against environmental influences, as functionally related microbes in an intact ecosystem can compensate for the function of other missing species. Consequently, diversity seems to be a generally good indicator of a healthy gut.4041 But recent interventional studies indicate that major increases in dietary fibre can temporarily reduce diversity, as the microbes that digest fibre become specifically enriched, leading to a change in composition and, through competitive interactions, reduced diversity.22
Consider Fermented Dairy Products
As far back as the early 1900s, a scientist called Elie Metchnikoff observed that Bulgarians who ate large amounts of fermented-milk products had a relatively long life expectancy.; This, and other studies have formed the basis of probiotics foodstuffs that contain live bacteria such as lactobacilli.; There is mixed evidence supporting the use of probiotics certainly it is thought that to confer any type of benefit, probiotics must be taken on a regular basis.; This is due to the fact that it the gut microbiome can be relatively resistant to change and it can be difficult for these bacteria to permanently colonize the microbiome.
Additional Changes You Can Make
In addition to the points above here are more tips:
- Use a good quality olive oil: Fats from plant based sources such as extra virgin olive oil are associated with increased microbial diversity. This could be because of the types of fats in olive oil , but also because it contains high amounts of polyphenols and phytochemicals such as antioxidants.
- Drink beverages high in polyphenols: Polyphenols are plant chemicals with several health benefits which can positively influence the gut microbiome. This may be because of prebiotic properties or antimicrobial activities against the bad bacteria. High amounts of polyphenols are found in many of the plant foods mentioned above , but you can also get a boost from drinking tea and coffee, and even a glass of red wine.
- Get some exercise and manage stress: Chronic stress, which can be the cause of IBS symptoms for some, has a negative impact on the makeup of your gut bacteria. Managing stress through meditation, exercise or counselling could help. Exercise is especially helpful, as this is shown to improve microbial diversity.
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In Short Heres How To Have A Healthy Gut
Never to underestimate the importance of gut health when it comes to your body and wellbeing. Its home to trillions of bacteria, not to mention actual human cells, that work hard to keep you fit and well. Your lifestyle can have a serious impact on this balance.
Making simple positive changes like more fiber in your diet, more exercise, and less unnecessary medication is how to get a healthy gut and wholesome gut microbiome. Just remember, you really do have the power to change, one step at a time.
Practical Recommendations To Increase Gut Microbial Diversity
The Gut Microbiota for Health meeting particularly emphasized the applications of gut microbiota science.
The Gut Microbiota for Health meeting particularly emphasized the applications of gut microbiota science. Scientists havent yet identified the healthiest microbial composition, but whats clear so far is that a diverse colonizing microbiota is important: more diversity means greater resilience, with the potential to make you generally healthier and able to resist specific diseases.
With input from other GMFH board members, I have created a list of practical recommendations which, to the best of our current knowledge, increase the diversity of microbes colonizing your gut:
And if you want to know more about the world inside you, check out these non-profit projects, which allow you to get your microbiota assayed and compare your microbial diversity to others in the project:
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Human Diseases Are Often Associated With The Modern Western Lifestyle
In the past decades, the prevalence of numerous diseases has sharply increased, a phenomenon initially observed in Western countries and more recently in developing countries . These complex genetic disorders include immune related diseases like allergy, inflammatory bowel diseases , type 1 diabetes mellitus , multiple sclerosis but also colorectal cancer or metabolic disorders like obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus . Unrecognized environmental changes necessarily explain these outbreaks. The higher occurrence of some of these diseases among migrants , especially when emigrating before the age of 5 years confirms a role of early environmental risk factors.
Figure 1. Associative links between Western lifestyle, Human conditions, and loss of microbial diversity . On one hand, most of the Human diseases affecting westernized countries are associated with LOMD and on the other hand, some western lifestyle patterns cause LOMD. Then, LOMD appears to play a central role linking western lifestyle and western chronic human conditions . *LOMD not assessed.
Table 1. Human diseases and western lifestyle: prevalence and LOMD.
Easy On The Painkillers For Your Gut Flora
Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory are painkillers that can alter the gut microbiome and lead to an upset stomach.
Better known as NSAIDs, these medications are among the most commonly prescribed. They are used to treat pain by targeting inflammation, and are especially popular because they help relieve menstrual pain.
However, even though they can produce short-term relief, chronic use can damage your gut lining and make your gut microbes sad. They irritate your intestinal lining, causing inflammation and even bleeding too both of which are detrimental to this organ and your microbiome.
TIPSome of these painkillers, like ibuprofen, can be bought at your shop, others prescribed by your doctor.
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Fermented Food Increased Diversity
After analyzing the data, the researchers found that the diversity of the gut microbiomes of the participants who were on the fermented food diet markedly increased.
According to Dr. Justin Sonnenburg, Ph.D., an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University, CA, and a corresponding author of the study: This is a stunning finding. It provides one of the first examples of how a simple change in diet can reproducibly remodel the microbiota across a cohort of healthy adults.
The researchers also found that for the people who were on the fermented food diet, 19 inflammatory proteins decreased, and four types of immune cell had less activation.
Another corresponding author, Prof. Christopher Gardner, Ph.D., who is Rehnborg Farquhar Professor and director of nutrition studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, says, Microbiota-targeted diets can change immune status, providing a promising avenue for decreasing inflammation in healthy adults.
This finding was consistent across all participants in the study who were assigned to the higher fermented food group.
Prof. Christopher Gardner, Ph.D.
In contrast, the participants on the fiber diet saw no changes to the diversity of their gut microbiome and no decrease in the 19 inflammatory proteins.
Additionally, future studies would benefit from a larger, more diverse sample size.
Your Genes Dont Matter But Your Gut Microbiomes Genes Do
As a society, we have been quick to place the blame for everything from our weight to our moods on our genes. We say things like She can drink wine and eat chocolate every day and not gain weight because she is French. The truth is human beings all have similar DNA. So why is it that some people are healthy when they consume chocolate every day while others maintain a strict Paleo diet and struggle with digestive symptoms or worse? Its because, unlike our genes, our microbiomes genes are vastly different.
The good news is that you can change your gut microbiome. You see, the average lifespan of a bacterium in your microbiome is 20 minutes! So, you have the opportunity every time you eat to begin to change the population of your gut microbiome. This is good news because it means that rather than having to subscribe to theories such as the Paleo diet, which assumes our genes evolve so slowly that we all need to eat like cavemen, we can begin to change our gut microbiome one meal at a time and even achieve a healthy gut very quickly.
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Artificial Sweeteners Are Not On The Healthy Gut Diet Plan
Sugar-free alternatives have been branded as a better option than sugar, but when it comes to your intestinal health, this isnt strictly true.
Artificial sweeteners may be a convenient replacement for those with a sweet tooth, but they may not be as beneficial as originally thought. Some studies have shown that they can actually increase blood sugar and increase the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Its easy to reach for a non-sugar sweetener, but if youre trying to lower your sugar intake, its worth considering reaching for a piece of fruit, some dark chocolate, or simply forgoing the syrup in your latte.
Microbiota Diversity And The Host Immune System: A Key Point
Predatory-preys interactions were operating among bacteria long before the appearance of animals on earth. Then, animals provided new surroundings for bacteria, resulting in a more complex interaction between host cells and microorganisms. For instance, gut microbiota in vertebrates’ gut adapts to the host diet over daily time scales, as we already mentioned , but even over evolutionary scales. This allowed animals to face environmental changes as they were able to digest a broad variety of biomolecules . Moreover, it has been proposed that this microbial functional diversity would have been beneficial for the host in an evolutionary perspective since it might have shaped the adaptive immune system .
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How To Restore Your Gut Microbiome
Deborah Freudenmann BHSc
The human microbiome is a collection of trillions of microorganisms which populate your intestines. Your microbiome is essentially its very own complex ecosystem. Although the microbiome consists of a diverse range of microorganisms , it is primarily populated with bacteria which are located in your gut.
Your microbiome is a complex ecological community, which communicates, cross feeds, combines, evolves with you and your environment. The symbiotic relationship between your body and your gut is important to understand. You depend on your gut microbiome and your gut microbiome depends on you. One cannot thrive without the other. The micro-organisms living in our gut perform a wide range of useful and health promoting activities, however they can also be responsible for the development of different diseases.
In the modern world, your human microbiome is often exposed to harmful factors. Poor dietary and lifestyle habits as well as increased stress levels decrease the diversity and effectiveness of your microbiomes functions. All of these factors lead to an increased chance of developing various chronic conditions.
For maintaining your long-term health, prioritisation of your microbiomes health is necessary.
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A healthy gut means you have a stronger immune system, a better mood, effective digestion thats free of discomfort and a healthy brain and heart, says Sabine Hazan, M.D., a gastroenterologist, founder of Ventura Clinical Trials in Ventura, California, and author of Lets Talk S.
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Collecting Multiple Days Of Dietary History Prior To Each Microbiome Sample
For observational studies where dietary intake is considered as a confounder for the microbiome outcome of interest, the decision to collect dietary data is driven by different factors than when dietary intake is the exposure of interest. We do not think that all microbiome studies need to collect dietary data. In many well-designed microbiome studies it may not be necessary to collect dietary data and the decision to collect dietary data should be weighed carefully with the researchers hypotheses and planned analyses. In observational studies where diet will be a clear confounder that cannot be controlled for through other study design parameters, investigators should collect detailed information about diet.
Table 1 Roles And Impacts Of Gut Microbiota
|Gut bacteria synthesize vitamin B, B12, and K.|
|Immune system||Colonies of commensal bacteria can prevent harmful bacteria from colonizing the gut and secrete antimicrobial substances. The gut microbiome acts as a barrier and first line of defense for the rest of the body.|
|Fewer symptoms of gut distress;||The presences of certain gut bacteria may relieve diarrhea and constipation, as well as symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome|
|Neurotransmitter and other signaling molecule production;||The gut microbiome produces many neurotransmitters and hormone signaling molecules which allows the gut to interact with other parts of the body, such as the brain. This may have an impact on gastrointestinal, neurological, and psychological disorders.|
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Improve Your Gut Microbiome Today For The 4rs
There are a number of factors that contribute to the health of your gut microbiome, including your environment, the amount of exercise and sleep you get, and of course, stress. But the number one factor that determines what microbes live in your gut is your diet.
In Functional Medicine, there is a very successful protocol called the 4Rs, which stands for Remove, Replace, Reinoculate, and Repair. There are many resources for learning more about the 4 Rs. I like Raphael Kellman, M.D.s book, The Microbiome Diet: The Scientifically Proven Way to Restore Your Gut Health and Achieve Permanent Weight Loss.
The beautiful thing about the 4Rs protocol is that it doesnt have to be followed in order. Once you remove the processed foods and toxins from your diet, you can start doing all of the remaining 3 steps together. Unless you suffer from a serious digestive disorder or other condition, you can follow the 4Rs on your own. Or, find a practitioner who can tailor the protocol to your specific needs.
Here are my suggestions for following the 4Rs and improving your gut microbiome starting today:
Gut Microbiota Variations Between Individuals
We highlighted that the gut microbiota composition varies in the same individual and we will see that it also changes between individuals. These inter-individual variations are principally due to enterotypes, body mass index level, and external factors such as lifestyle, exercise frequency, ethnicity, and dietary and cultural habits. The microbiota abundance variations between individuals are illustrated in .
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Gut Bacteria And Diet
There are many different types of bacteria living in the gut, and each has a unique function. Common types include Bacteroides, Firmicutes, and Prevotella; however, research concerning which types are more beneficial for humans is nonconclusive. The bacterial colonies in the gut are highly susceptible to change, and can change in a matter of hours or days . Many studies advocate that the best way to improve gut microbiome diversity and health is to eat a diet rich in prebiotics, probiotics, and fibermeaning plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains . Table 2 lists examples of probiotics and prebiotic foods that can be included in the diet.
Dietary Effects On The Gut Microbiome
The quantitative contributions of host genetics, environmental factors and diet to shaping the gut microbiota remain largely unknown. Significant associations between host genotypes and their gut microbiota composition have been reported in both human and mouse studies for a comprehensive recent review). The environment also plays an important role in establishing and modifying the gut microbiota. For example, the close physical contact between humans and companion animals facilitates the acquisition and exchange of microbes. A study of skin, oral and gut microbiomes showed that the microbial communities of cohabiting family members resemble each other and that adults share more microbial taxa with their own dogs than they do with others’ dogs. Having a dog, and the resulting exposure to a diverse microbial community, can be beneficial. Pet ownership in the early, but not later, years of life is associated with a significant decrease in the risk of allergic disease.
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How To Improve Gut Health Naturally With Less Sugar
Sugar is everywhere, even when you cant taste it. Sadly, refined sugar can upset the balance in your gut and your metabolism.
If youre wondering how to get rid of bad bacteria in the gut, less sugar can help. Soft drinks, processed foods, takeaways, and restaurant food can contain high levels of sugar because it helps balance flavour and cover up poor quality ingredients. But dont get these sugars confused with complex carbs that your gut bacteria need to thrive and survive.
Eat A Diverse Range Of Foods
There are hundreds of species of bacteria in your intestines, each of which plays a specific role in health and requires different nutrients for growth.
Generally speaking, a diverse microbiome is considered a healthy one. This is because the more species of bacteria you have, the more health benefits they may be able to contribute to (
Unfortunately, the traditional Western diet is not very diverse and is rich in fat and sugar. In fact, an estimated 75% of the worlds food is produced from only 12 plant and 5 animal species .
However, diets in certain rural regions are often more diverse and richer in different plant sources.
For this reason, a few studies have shown that gut microbiome diversity is much greater in people from rural regions of Africa and South America than in people from urban areas in Europe or the United States .
Eating a diverse diet rich in whole foods can lead to a diverse microbiome, which is beneficial for your health.
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