What Is The Gut Microbiome And How Does It Relate To Diabetes
The microbiome is an exciting area of research for diabetes management. What do we know and what questions do we still have about the microbiome?
Interest in the microbiome, and how much it may affect our bodies, has been on the rise. People often talk about the microbiome as it relates to the immune system, the digestive system, chronic diseases, and more. But what exactly is the microbiome and how does it relate to diabetes?
Why The Gut Microbiome Is Crucial For Your Health
Your body is full of trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi. They are collectively known as the microbiome.
While some bacteria are associated with disease, others are actually extremely important for your immune system, heart, weight and many other aspects of health.
This article serves as a guide to the gut microbiome and explains why its so important for your health.
H Pylori Infection From A Germ Theory Perspective
Pasteurs theories became embedded in the modern scientific thought of the day, and become the norm, even today. H. Pylori is one example of a bug well known to be the cause of peptic ulcers9, which according to the germ theory makes sense. In our common language we all talk about catching a cold, a virus, or a bacterial infection. Microbes and bacteria are easy to see under a microscope and because of that its very easy to believe it is true.
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You Know Whats Right Just Listen To Your Body
I do not want you to recant on your death bed, or have regrets that you should have headed the warning signs. That internally you knew that it couldnt be only about the bug. I remember the gut punch I got when I first heard about addressing the balance of the systems and the terrain, searching for homeostasis, instead of the bug. A light bulb so big shone in front of my eyes, I knew inherently it was the way to go with health.
Im not saying here if you need an antibiotic for an infection not to take it. By no means! What Im saying is to look at your body as a whole, there will be times you need that antibiotic and you better take it! There is no bad medicine, just a bad time and a place for it.
Stay tuned for Part 2 next week where we talk probiotics, fecal transplants and how to reset your terrain for healthy bugs!Dont forget to share this with your friends on social media, through email and to like us on ,;;and ;!
Conbiotics The Disease Promoting Bugs The Bad Guys
The not-so-nice ones, I call conbiotics. I coined this term because my understanding is that they act much like con artists in our bodies. They take up residence in places that are troubled, because they like to cause trouble too. Like attracts like. Usually its in a disturbed digestive tract, preferring environments that are filled with inflammation, histamine, oxalates, heavy metals and other toxins like poop sitting in our intestine too long.
They are typically present with food sensitivities, and the ultimate villain of them all a dis-stressed gut. A great example of this is after you take antibiotics. They kill both good and bad bacteria, but make the intestine hospitable to conbiotics5.
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It May Help Control Blood Sugar And Lower The Risk Of Diabetes
The gut microbiome also may help control blood sugar, which could affect the risk of type 1 and 2 diabetes.
One recent study examined 33 infants who had a genetically high risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
It found that the diversity of the microbiome dropped suddenly before the onset of type 1 diabetes. It also found that levels of a number of unhealthy bacterial species increased just before the onset of type 1 diabetes .
Another study found that even when people ate the exact same foods, their blood sugar could vary greatly. This may be due to the types of bacteria in their guts .
The gut microbiome plays a role in controlling blood sugar and may also affect the onset of type 1 diabetes in children.
What Is The Microbiome
Picture a bustling city on a weekday morning, the sidewalks flooded with people rushing to get to work or to appointments. Now imagine this at a microscopic level and you have an idea of what the microbiome looks like inside our bodies, consisting of trillions of microorganisms of thousands of different species. These include not only bacteria but fungi, parasites, and viruses. In a healthy person, these bugs coexist peacefully, with the largest numbers found in the small and large intestines but also throughout the body. The microbiome is even labeled a supporting organ because it plays so many key roles in promoting the smooth daily operations of the human body.
Each person has an entirely unique network of microbiota that is originally determined by ones DNA. A person is first exposed to microorganisms as an infant, during delivery in the birth canal and through the mothers breast milk. Exactly which microorganisms the infant is exposed to depends solely on the species found in the mother. Later on, environmental exposures and diet can change ones microbiome to be either beneficial to health or place one at greater risk for disease.
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The Gut Microbiome May Benefit Heart Health
Interestingly, the gut microbiome may even affect heart health .
A recent study in 1,500 people found that the gut microbiome played an important role in promoting good HDL cholesterol and triglycerides .
Certain unhealthy species in the gut microbiome may also contribute to heart disease by producing trimethylamine N-oxide .
TMAO is a chemical that contributes to blocked arteries, which may lead to heart attacks or stroke.
Certain bacteria within the microbiome convert choline and L-carnitine, both of which are nutrients found in red meat and other animal-based food sources, to TMAO, potentially increasing risk factors for heart disease .
However, other bacteria within the gut microbiome, particularly Lactobacilli, may help reduce cholesterol when taken as a probiotic .
Certain bacteria within the gut microbiome can produce chemicals that may block arteries and lead to heart disease. However, probiotics may help lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.
How To Support It
1. Avoid Antibiotics as Much as Possible
Antibiotics have been commonly prescribed for over 80 years now, but the problem is that they eliminate good bacteria in addition to cleaning the body of dangerous germs, which means they can lower immune function and raise the risk for infections, allergies and diseases. While antibiotics can save lives when theyre truly needed, theyre often overprescribed and misunderstood.
Over time, dangerous bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics, making serious infections harder to fight. Before taking antibiotics or giving them to your children, talk to your doctor about alternative options and the unintended consequences to our microbiomes that can result from taking antibiotics too often and when they arent needed.
2. Lower Stress and Exercise More
Stress hinders immune function because your body diverts energy away from fighting off;infections and places it on primary concerns that keep your alive which is one reason why chronic stress can kill your quality of life. When your body thinks its facing an immediate danger, you become more susceptible to infections and experience more severe symptoms while also developing higher levels of;inflammation.
Stress causes immune compounds known as cytokines to contribute to the inflammatory response that;damages healthy cells. Exercise is a natural stress;reliever;that can help lower inflammation, balance hormones and strengthen the immune system.
3. Add Supplements
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Eat Your Fruits And Veggies
While all the different foods that make up your diet can influence the gut microbiome, it is the fiber the carbohydrates in our diet that we cannot break down ourselves but the bacteria in our gut can use readily that drives the formation of a healthy microbiome. Eating a diverse and abundant selection of fruits and veggies is a great way to feed some of the most health-promoting bacteria in our gut.
What Does The Microbiome Do The Bad
Due to our lifestyle choices and exposures, sometimes this hub of so called health as claimed by the researchers, works against us instead of for us. As in the case of irritable bowel syndrome, where the balance of beneficial bugs is outweighed by their disease-promoting counterparts. Researchers elucidate to the microbiome being the UNIFYING aspect of the promotion of irritable bowel syndrome3. I beg to differ, it is JUST ONE of the factors of irritable bowel syndrome .
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Supports Gut Barrier Integrity
Gut microbes help maintain the integrity of the gut barrier by stimulating intestinal epithelial cell proliferation and regulating tight junction proteins, which bind intestinal cells together. They also boost the development of gut-associated lymphoid tissue , a type of tissue found exclusively in the gut that mediates immunity.
Taking Action Instead Of Taking A Test
If gut tests arent accurate, whats the answer?
The answer is to focus on what helps;your microbiome be healthy and vibrant, not whether it might be sick.
1. Get Your Gut Moving!
Your GI tract is the primary way your body gets rid of metabolic wastes and dangerous chemicals. If you are constipated, you are essentially poisoning yourself, and your microbiome. Studies show that being constipated changes what microbes are dominant in your gut. The ones associated with pathogenic diseases take over your GI tract. Get this drainage pathway moving regularly — at least two times a day. This will tip the microbes in your favor!
2. Make Sure Your Liver Bile Duct Is Open
One of the jobs a healthy microbiome loves is to take your bile salts and turn them into TUDCA. TUDCA has impressive health benefits for you and your microbiome. If you starve them of bile acids because your liver bile duct is blocked, they cant produce it. A lack of TUDCA changes the microbiome and can activate other diseases.
The liver bile duct is another drainage pathway you need to keep flowing for a healthy microbiome. Taking TUDCA itself can actually get this duct unclogged helping you and your microbiome. There are herb combinations that also support better liver function. Coffee enemas open up the liver bile duct and purge toxins that are hampering your and your microbes. It will also give them the bile salts they are craving.
A healthy, open liver bile duct will dramatically change your microbiome!
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Can Diet Affect Ones Microbiota
In addition to family genes, environment, and medication use, diet plays a large role in determining what kinds of microbiota live in the colon. All of these factors create a unique microbiome from person to person. A high-fiber diet in particular affects the type and amount of microbiota in the intestines. Dietary fiber can only be broken down and fermented by enzymes from microbiota living in the colon. Short chain fatty acids are released as a result of fermentation. This lowers the pH of the colon, which in turn determines the type of microbiota present that would survive in this acidic environment. The lower pH limits the growth of some harmful bacteria like Clostridium difficile. Growing research on SCFA explores their wide-ranging effects on health, including stimulating immune cell activity and maintaining normal blood levels of glucose and cholesterol.
Be aware that a high intake of prebiotic foods, especially if introduced suddenly, can increase gas production and bloating. Individuals with gastrointestinal sensitivities such as irritable bowel syndrome should introduce these foods in small amounts to first assess tolerance. With continued use, tolerance may improve with fewer side effects.
If one does not have food sensitivities, it is important to gradually implement a high-fiber diet because a low-fiber diet may not only reduce the amount of beneficial microbiota, but increase the growth of pathogenic bacteria that thrive in a lower acidic environment.
Alkek Center For Metagenomics And Microbiome Research
The Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research at Baylor, based in the Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, serves as an international hub for microbiome research including clinical and basic science applications and advanced bioinformatics analyses. The CMMR was established in 2011 and is directed by MVM faculty member Dr. Joseph F. Petrosino, a nationally recognized leader in metagenomic research. It was founded as an extension to Baylor’s involvement in the Human Microbiome Project and is supported in part by a generous donation from the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation.
The CMMR builds on the microbiology and virology expertise in the department and collaborates with the Human Genome Sequencing Center, headed by Dr. Richard Gibbs, and the Texas Children’s Microbiome Center for pediatric studies under the direction of Dr. James Versalovic.
CMMR researchers are developing molecular and informatics tools and resources to advance diverse clinical and basic research projects pertaining to the organisms that comprise the microbiome, the genetic makeup of these microbes, how these microorganisms interact with human cells and tissues during the course of life and their impact on health and disease. The CMMR provides metagenomic, informatics, model system and molecular biology support and guidance to other researchers and clinical collaborators engaging in these areas of study.
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Microbiota Members Of The Microbiome
The microbiota comprises all living members forming the microbiome. Most microbiome researchers agree bacteria, archaea, fungi, algae, and small protists should be considered as members of the microbiome. The integration of phages, viruses, plasmids, and mobile genetic elements is a more controversial issue in the definition of the microbiome. There is also no clear consensus as to whether extracellular DNA derived from dead cells, so-called “relic DNA”, belongs to the microbiome. Relic DNA can be up to 40% of the sequenced DNA in soil, and was up to 33% of the total bacterial DNA on average in a broader analysis of habitats with the highest proportion of 80% in some samples. Despite its omnipresence and abundance, relic DNA had a minimal effect on estimates of taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity.
When it comes to the use of specific terms, a clear differentiation between microbiome and microbiota helps to avoid the controversy concerning the members of a microbiome. Microbiota is usually defined as the assemblage of living microorganisms present in a defined environment. As phages, viruses, plasmids, prions, viroids, and free DNA are usually not considered as living microorganisms, they do not belong to the microbiota.
Are Gut Microbiome Tests Accurate Or Worth It What To Do Instead
- 04 Mar 19
A Healthy Microbiome Is A Healthy You!
When your health takes a turn for the worse, you naturally want to know why. Especially if it relates to digestion and gut health. Why has my digestion changed?
The opposite can also be true. Maybe you had a time in your life when you were feeling incredibly healthy. Youd want to know why so you can repeat that and get back to feeling that way. Can you test your microbiome to see whats going on? How can I test my gut health?
One of the most popular answers to these whys right now is gut microbiome testing. The more researchers study the microbiome, the more we realize how important it is. Your microbiota regulates and establishes your health.
A healthy microbiome:
- Is critical to proper digestion and absorption of nutrients
An unhealthy microbiome is associated with:
- Inflammatory bowel diseases
- Autoimmune disorders
Understandably, you want to know whats going on in your microbiome — especially if you’re facing health issues. You might decide to go for microbiome testing. Its expensive, but you want to know whats happening. You want answers. Is it worth it? What exactly will it tell you? Is microbiome testing information accurate?
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Probiotics The Beneficial Bugs The Good Guys
For simplicity sake, lets call the good guys probiotics, since many of you are familiar with the product you buy to give your body good bugs. In reality, the researchers call the good guys commensal bacteria. These guys help us immensely, they are bacteria of different strains that help our bodies by making B vitamins and other amazing substances to keep our guts good4.
Do Microbes Interfere With Each Other
The networks and interplays between different species of microbes are incredibly complicated.
Then theres how external factors come into play. We know, for example, that the balance of two groups of bacteria the Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes affect obesity, but the link still isnt clear or consistent enough to know how we might influence it.
And even if we were to find a potential treatment, theres no telling if the body would accept it.
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Future Areas Of Research
The microbiome is a living dynamic environment where the relative abundance of species may fluctuate daily, weekly, and monthly depending on diet, medication, exercise, and a host of other environmental exposures. However, scientists are still in the early stages of understanding the microbiomes broad role in health and the extent of problems that can occur from an interruption in the normal interactions between the microbiome and its host.
Some current research topics:
- How the microbiome and their metabolites influence human health and disease.
- What factors influence the framework and balance of ones microbiome.
- The development of probiotics as a functional food and addressing regulatory issues.
Specific areas of interest:
- Factors that affect the microbiome of pregnant women, infants, and the pediatric population.
- Manipulating microbes to resist disease and respond better to treatments.
- Differences in the microbiome between healthy individuals and those with chronic disease such as diabetes, gastrointestinal diseases, obesity, cancers, and cardiovascular disease.
- Developing diagnostic biomarkers from the microbiome to identify diseases before they develop.
- Alteration of the microbiome through transplantation of microbes between individuals .