Our Microbiome: What Is It and How Does It Directly Affect Our Body and Mind?
Have you heard of the term Microbiome? Did you know that you have one inside you and that you cannot exist without it? This vast system inside us can determine our health and longevity like no other system in our bodies.
I would like to take you on a journey of your microbiome that resides within you. As you read this article, try to visualize this beautiful and complex system inside you and how it is functioning even though you are mostly unaware of what’s going on inside this amazingly inner ecosystem that you carry around with you every day.
The definition of the term Microbiome is:
a community of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and viruses) that inhabit a particular environment, including the body or a part of the body. “We depend on a vast army of these microbes to stay alive: a microbiome that protects us against germs, breaks down food to release energy, and produces vitamins.”
We are going to discuss the microbiome of our digestive system today and how it directly affects our body and mind.
Our Microbiome Foundation is Established Within the First 6 Months of Our Life
Our unique microbiome foundation starts when we are in our mother’s womb. The foods our mother eats, fluids she drinks, the toxins she’s exposed too, and the emotions she experiences directly affect her baby’s health and microbiome diversity. A healthy microbiome transfers downstream generationally!
Being born vaginally versus being born via C-Section gives a completely different microbial diversity to the baby’s own microbiome. When a baby is born vaginally, the first few swallows that the baby takes of the vaginal fluids inoculates the baby’s microbiome…the microbiome is colonized in the baby this way. If a mother is given antibiotics during childbirth or labor, then this will negate the positive affect on the baby.
When you combine a healthy vaginal birth experience with breastfeeding, the health of the microbiome is greatly enhanced and diversified! Breastfeeding is full of healthy bacteria and prebiotics to help a baby form a healthy start to life. Both of these, breastfeeding and being born vaginally, will help the baby to develop a full spectrum of healthy organisms that will help to prevent allergies and autoimmunity in the child’s early and later years of life.
The first 6 months to 2 years of a baby’s life lays the foundation of the gut microbiome!
If a baby needs to be borne by C-Section, then there is a new procedure that can be done by the OB-GYN after the mother gives birth. The doctor gently swabs the vaginal area and then swabs the baby’s face and mouth with the swab holding the vaginal fluids. This will also help to inoculate the baby’s microbiome and will have similar affects that a baby born vaginally would have.
How Our Microbiome Directly Affects Our Body and Mind
Our microbiome interconnects with all the other organs in our body, even our blood. As mentioned above, the microbiome refers to all the other organisms on and in our bodies. These are comprised of viruses, fungi, protozoa, bacteria. There are more than 100 trillion organisms with all of these microscopic creatures that inhabit our system! That also means that there are more than a billion of the organisms in just 1 drop of the fluid in the colon alone. Our microbiome harbors 40,000 species of bacteria, 5 million species of fungi, and 300,000 species of parasites.
We have 10 times the amount of bacterial cells as our own cells. These microscopic critters or bugs outnumber our human cells 10 to 1 and our DNA pool of human cells 100 to 1. This is why some microbiome researchers say we’re only 1% human! Wow! We are truly and wonderfully created!
These microorganisms are all over us and inside us! They are directly interacting with our biology every minute. These organisms are constantly controlling levels of inflammation, permeability of our gut, metabolism, hormonal balance and metabolization of hormones, what we absorb and what we don’t absorb, our unique brain chemistry, and nutrient levels.
The microbes that live within us from the day we are born to the day we die are critically important to our health and potential disease process.
This is why the foods we choose to eat, drugs we take, and the toxins that we are exposed to will directly affect our microbiome diversity and this rich ecosystem within us. Our microbiome communicates constantly with our immune and nervous system.
If you read the article last week on Leaky Gut Syndrome, you remember that 80% of our immune system is housed in our GI system…our microbiome. This is why taking care of our unique nutritional needs and having a healthy functioning digestive system is essential to having a well-established and healthy immune system. Promoting a healthy microbiome is a key factor in getting and staying well!
Like I just mentioned, our gut and brain are in constant communication. We have a complex nervous system not only in our brain but also in our gut that communicates directly via the Vagus nerve. Our mood and emotions are dependent not only by a healthy nervous system but also by a healthy gut.
For every 1 message going from the brain to the gut telling you what to do, there are 9 messages going from the gut to the brain telling you what to do. This means that our gut is mostly running the show when it comes to our mental health!
Did you know that 95% of our body’s serotonin levels are housed in our gut? Serotonin is known as our happy hormone or neurotransmitter. When we experience depression or mood disorders, our serotonin levels our usually found to be low. The best and most efficient way to help with depression and poor mental health is to work on our digestive system. If we are experiencing any metal health challenges, it is highly recommended to do a GI Stool Test Analysis/ GI Map to determine what imbalances are occurring in our microbiome.
When I see a client that is suffering with mood issues, a GI test is highly recommended first to determine the imbalances of the microbiome. Rebalancing our gut flora and taking care of pathogenic bacteria and harmful parasites will directly affect our mood and mental health! Check out link below to learn more about the GI Map.
Can you see now why it is imperative to your health and well-being to have an optimal functioning microbiome?
Research has shown that there is a sudden drop of the diversity of the microbiome right before an autoimmune disease, stroke, or any chronic disease process starts in the body.
If we can take care of our microbiome and teach our children from an early age to do the same, then we can greatly decrease the disease process, disability, and increase our productivity and creativity!
To be as healthy as can be, we need to build a healthy microbiome!
*Please take the time to check out several recipes that are under the "Recipes" section of this website . They are: Purple Sauerkraut, Coconut Water Kefir, Fermented Coconut Meat/ Cream Kefir, and Kimchi. These recipes are fermented food recipes that can start to reflourish your microbiome with healthy flora and provide a rich and bountiful organism diversity. Incorporating some of these probiotic foods into your daily diet can help to shift the healthy bacterial diversity into a higher population therefore assisting to lower unhealthy bacteria.
*All of these fermented foods have different probiotic strains, especially the vegetable ferments compared to the coconut water and milk kefir. The best way is to alternate the different recipes so you will get a wide range of probiotic diversity for your microbiome.
Please note *It is best to start off with a GI Map test to see how your unique microbiome is functioning or malfunctioning. The best results for a healthy microbiome are to go on a specific gut protocol based on your microbiome health needs.
There are times, depending on the results of a GI Map test, that some probiotics are not recommended until the pathogenic bacteria are eradicated from the gut. I explain this by stating that our microbiome is like a garden inside us. If our garden is full of weeds and pests, then why would we want to put fertilizer on these things that we want to eradicate? It’s like watering our weeds. Think of probiotics and fermented foods as fertilizers.
After the pathogens (weeds and pests) are taken care of, then the healthy fermented foods and probiotics are reintroduced to restore and reflourish the gut again and have a rich healthy soil for our garden. Rich colored flowers and healthy nutrient dense veggies can grow again in our healthy soil. Adding certain foods and/or supplements in the correct order can be an essential part of reestablishing a healthy microbiome and maintaining it!
*If you do not wish to do a GI Test and would like to start with these foods first, then see how you feel when you ingest them. If you feel better than they are most likely benefiting your gut and if they cause adverse reactions, such as; gas, bloating, indigestion, rashes, heart palpitations, anxiety, or abdominal discomfort, you need to stop these foods and get tested!