Eew, You Have Bugs in Your Gut
Microbiome: a community of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses that inhabit a particular environment especially the collection living in and on humans body. – Merriam- Webster
The hottest topic of research and medicine this decade is gut health, the microbiome and how the trillions of “bugs” that live in our intestines affect our health.
If you have, and these are just a few,
- Brain fog
- Joint pain
- Weight gain
You may have an unbalanced gut microbiome.
All Disease Begins in the Gut
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, 2000 years ago
What Do You Mean, Good Bacteria?
Your body is home to over 10 trillion microbes working in an on you. Thousands of studies are finding that the trillions of bacteria living in your intestines, or gut, protect and shield you from disease.
When we think of bacteria, we typically think of the type that causes illness or infection. Bad bacteria. But we also have lots of good bacteria.
The good bacteria in your gut release chemicals that break down the food you ingest to allow nutrients to disperse into our bloodstream. The blood then carries these nutrients to every cell in your body. There is no part of your body that the food you eat doesn’t affect.
What, I Have a Second Brain?
We know our brain communicates with the organs in our body. But the gut communicates with the brain and vice versa via the Enteric System.
The Enteric System is part of the Autonomic Nervous System and governs the Gastro-Intestinal Tract. Researchers are now calling the gut our “second brain” because it can and does work independently of the brain and spinal cord. (Wikipedia) The enteric system controls peristalsis and contraction, that gurgling noise that moves food through the intestine and the pancreas which releases digestive enzymes that breakdown food.
Birth of a Microbiome
Each individual has a unique microbiome that begins to collect bacteria even before you take your first meal. Microbes are passed from mother to child via the umbilical cord. Then through the birth canal. Then through breast milk. These bacteria continue to support our health for life. So couldn’t we say, we are what our mother eats?
Research is finding that cesarean children miss out on the microbes from the birth canal, newborns not breastfed miss inoculation from colostrum. This can lead to an increased chance of disease in adulthood.
Dr. Zach Bush triple certified physician, see his bio here, says it much better than I can.
“…you now take that infant and subtract out the microbiome from the antibiotic
environment. Born through C- section. Never saw Mom’s vaginal canal, so born sterile.
Put on a hospital gurney. Immediately inherits the hospital flora, not Mom’s flora. That
kid is now gonna get invasive strep infections in the ears and in the throat over the
first year and a half of his life cause that’s its flora. And so it’s gonna get antibiotics
from its pediatrician by the time, it’s nine months old for its first ear infection, and it’s
gonna get antibiotics every two to three months from there until they’re 12 years old.
And then they finally take out the tonsils that are now so riddled with chronic strep that
dysfunction. So they just removed the main immune system of the upper respiratory
tree, so now they’re gonna be more prone to the viruses. The retroviruses, and all of
the infections there. That’s the slippery slope we have our kids on right now.” (excerpt from an interview in Interconnected docuseries)
No Micky D’s Please.
The microbiomes foundation is established in the first 6 months to two years. This is very important since the child will begin eating solid food that very well may be contaminated with antibiotics, pesticides, and herbicides. Unless Mom is still breastfeeding and making her own baby food from organic foods.
The microbiome is constantly collecting microbes that will build their immune system. By two years old the child’s gut microbiome has created its base. It’s relatively stable. It will still be influenced by the environment, but the core colonies are believed to be established.
Let the kids play in the dirt, let them crawl on the floor, let them play with other kids, don’t be so worried that you are using antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizer. The more diverse the bacteria in the microbiome, the less the body is susceptible to disease.
Everything is Connected – Everything
We used to think of the body as basic systems, respiratory, gastrointestinal, skeletal, etc. but what we’re finding is that the body is much more complex. We are a collection of around one hundred billion cells, but we’ve got more bacterial, viral, and fungal cells in our body than we do human cells. The more advanced the tools to understand, the more we’re realizing the body is a very complex ecosystem.
You may not realize that 90% of your health is determined by social, behavioral,
and environmental factors. Only 10% of your health is determined by medical interventions. So if 90% of you, is what you’re eating, your relationships, your supplements, your exercise, your genomics, your microbiome, your health history, your family history, and your environmental exposures, then YOU have a lot of control of YOUR health.
Why Does All This Matter?
Research has discovered a very important connection to how the gut microbiome regulates the immune system.
Dr. Martin Blaser thinks research will find the microbiome is important in all chronic disease. Journals in many areas of medicine like cardiology, neurology, gastroenterology, and others are publishing research on the microbiome and how it impacts those organ systems.
Since World War II and the widespread use of antibiotics, a whole group of diseases has become much more common. Antibiotics are not particular they kill ALL bacteria, bad and good. In addition, chemicals used in modern farming practices and certain medications place our gut bacteria under constant attack.
Other Functions of the Gut Microbiome
Produces bacteria, and these bacteria all have enzymes with different functions.
• Is involved with making micronutrients.
• Is involved with synthesizing hormones.
• Is involved with making hormones active.
• Is involved with detoxifying us and they give chemicals through our body.
• Produces mucopolysaccharides and things that impact our immune system and
modulate our immune function.
• Creates neuropeptides that modulate our mood.
If you have a balanced microbiome you may feel great, have energy and seldom get sick because a healthy microbiome leads to a healthy immune system capable of fighting off disease. If your microbiome is unbalanced, your immune system is less able to help fight off the bad bacteria and viruses and you get sick more often.
You may begin having bouts of brain fog, moodiness, achy joints, be gassy and feel bloated and not relate that your gut health. If you don’t make the appropriate changes this chronic unbalance can lead to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can lead to autoimmune disease.
Science has connected a whole range of autoimmune diseases to gut health, here are just a few:
• Rheumatoid Arthritis
• Celiac Disease
• Type 1 Diabetes
• Multiple Sclerosis
• Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
• Crohn’s Disease
In fact, research is finding that inflammation is related to MANY diseases.
What You Learned
You learned that how you were delivered at birth, what you were fed, the things you touched, the air you breathed and how you interacted with others from birth to age two set your core microbiome
What you eat, your physical environment and the antibiotics you are prescribed affects your gut health which in turn affects your immune system.
We touched on inflammation and autoimmune disease. We’ll dig deeper into autoimmunity in the next few posts.
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Until next time
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