magazine! I didn't read the article, but the title does have some truth to it. Healing your gut can help with weight loss, but can help eliminate plethora of other chronic health conditions as well. In fact, improving our gut health is the first place any person should start when trying to improve their overall health, or conquer a chronic health issue.
So, What is a Microbiome?
A microbiome is a colony or community of microbes, such as bacteria, fungi and viruses, living together in a certain environment.
And, the human body is full of microbes!
We actually have different "communities of microbes", or microbiomes all over our bodies. The most well known is the gut microbiome, but we also have a skin microbiome (1), an oral microbiome (2), a nasal microbiome (3), and ladies have a vaginal microbiome (4). Don't think of our different microbiomes as different entities. They all affect each other, and luckily improving the health of one can have a big impact on the others.
Fascinatingly, each individual's personal microbiome is as unique as their fingerprint (5).
A microbiome is not unique to humans. Every living thing has a microbiome, including your cat (6), dog (7), bird (8), that moose you saw on the side of the road yesterday (9), even insects have a microbiome (10)! Bugs have bugs!!
Your garden even (hopefully) has a microbiome as well! Unless you use products that should be illegal to grow food with, such as glyphosate (Monsanto's Roundup), your garden will have its own healthy thriving microbiome!
Tell me More About the Human Gut Microbiome
The gut microbiome resides primarily in the large intestine, also called the colon. The large intestine houses a whopping 1,000,000,000 bacteria per ml of fluid, while the small intestine is comparatively sterile with only 10,000 bacteria per ml of fluid (11).
The human gut microbiome consists of three types of microbes:
1. Beneficial or Symbiotic Microbes - These "bugs" are what constitute a healthy microbiome. The bugs that belong in this group promote health (see below).
2. Commensal Microbes - These microbes are neutral. They are neither good nor bad on their own. Although, they do take up precious real estate in your colon. An overgrowth of commensal microbes can become problematic if they are not balanced by symbiotic microbes.
3. Dysbiotic or Pathogenic Microbes - These are the good-for-nothing microbes. An overgrowth of dysbiotic microbes will most likely cause problems, and may need treatment.
We can think of the gut microbiome as a living entity which resides within our digestive tract. Depending on which types of bacteria compose our microbiome, this entity can either work for us, supporting every aspect of our wellbeing; or against us, causing a downward spiral in our mental, physical and emotional health. When our microbiome becomes disrupted, more bad bacteria live in our intestine than good bacteria. When bad bacteria are allowed to run the show, our health suffers. These bad bacteria derail our health in two ways; they release a toxin called lipopolysaccharide, and cause our intestinal walls to become excessively permeable, aka "leaky gut". When lipopolysaccharides enter our bloodstream through the "holes" in our gut, chronic inflammation is what results (1). It is well known that chronic inflammation is the root of most chronic health issues we face today (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).
What do the Beneficial Bugs do for Me?
I am glad you asked! A thriving community of symbiotic microbes provides many health benefits, such as;
I would like to hear from you!
Have you heard about the importance of a healthy gut microbiome?
Lindsay Rusk, R.Ac., fmp
Lindsay Is a Registered Acupuncturist, Functional Medicine Practitioner, Health Investigator, Paleo Enthusiast, and Blogger.
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