The Importance of the Gut Microbiome
This is just a brief overview and a quick read of understanding the beginnings of the gut microbiome and its importance to our body. I’ve gone down a rabbit hole with this topic, but I think it is awesome for everyone to understand it at a surface level, so here is my attempt to explain what happens to your food after you eat it and what else we are doing that is harming this part of our body.
The digestive system is one of the most amazing parts of the human body that runs from our mouth to yes our anus and has the potential to be our greatest gift or worst enemy. When we take in nutrients through food, it’s through our mouth, down our esophagus, and into our stomach where it is then broken down by the acid our stomachs produce to then filter into our small intestines. The intestinal tract is where we want to extract those nutrients and send them out for our body to use for energy, but if there is a problem with our gut, all bets are off.
The majority of Americans have an imbalanced microbiome. A balanced microbiome has a healthy ratio of good to bad bacteria, and a certain level of candida (a yeast species). As odd as it sounds, we need these little creatures to stay healthy. 90 % of our immune system is located in the gut, serotonin (our happy chemical that contributes to wellbeing) is produced in the gut, and the nutrients that we take from our fruits and veggies to help give life and repair the body is located in the gut. A healthy intestinal tract is also sealed-- the intestines are semi permeable tubes that allow the “good stuff” to be let out to help the body, and the “bad stuff” to be extracted through your stool. So that being said, what does an imbalanced microbiome look like? The majority of Americans have an imbalanced microbiome that consists of an overgrowth of bad bacteria, an overgrowth of yeast, and intestinal permeability. It can create a host of issues on the outside as well like: Bloating after meals or even waking up bloated in the morning. Brain fog. Muscle fatigue. Nausea. Abdominal cramping. Constipation, diarrhea, or a combination of the two. Gas, and burping. Inflammation and joint pain. Skin rashes. Auto-immune issues. Memory issues. Mood imbalances. Learning or focus based issues. Poor growth. And all other unexplained health issues. Even though these symptoms are annoying and painful at times, it is a good thing that we have them because this is our body’s way of communicating there is something wrong.
I know that we have all felt this way at one point or another in our life, but it becomes a problem when we feel it all the time, every day, chronically.
How did we get here? I know that my problems started when I was born and put on antibiotics as an infant because of ear infections. This prevented my immune system from developing, so as a six year old I started having issues with my first autoimmune disease, psoriasis.
Putting unnatural, outside substances into our body that runs on all natural processes will deteriorate and deplete it. How many rounds of antibiotics have we had even when it wasn’t completely necessary? How long have we been on birth control? How many packets of artificial sugar do we put in our coffee every morning? How much do we drink alcohol and eat those highly processed sugary treats? How often do we reach for the advil bottle? And last but not least, how stressed are we on a day to day basis?
The natural body is resilient, but just like anything, over time if it is beat down it will wear down and that creates an imbalanced microbiome becoming the root cause to a host of other issues. I’m totally for conventional medicine in acute based conditions and think it is important if our life's on the line, but when one round of antibiotics can disturb the gut microbiome for 16 months, maybe we should rethink if we really needed to take it. I’ll create another article on how we can heal the gut microbiome. There is hope!