I recently attended a seminar all about the the gut microbiome, which is basically all the bacteria in your gut, also known as the microflora or gastrointestinal ecosystem. WOW!!! I thought I knew a fair bit about this topic but, as always, my eyes were opened and I learnt a LOT!
The microbiota is now considered an organ and plays a pivotal role in such things as modulating the immune system, improving nutritional status, weight management and mood, just to mention a few (I'm not going to keep you here all day!).
Most people are aware of the gastrointestinal (GI) conditions that dysbiosis (or microbial imbalance) can affect, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, diarhoea, Crohn's disease and liver cirrhosis. But were you aware of the the non-GI conditions that dysbiosis can play a significant role in? Let me give you a small list:
* Alzheimer's disease
* Anxiety and depression
* Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
* Kidney stones
* Obesity and Metabolic syndrome
* Type I and II Diabetes
With the development of new technology, we are able to map the microbiome so much more thoroughly and gain a lot of insight into what is going on and how it will be impacting our health.
We can now see how much gram-negative bacteria you have. These bacteria have a toxin present inside the bacterial cell that is released as the bacteria die. This toxin (lipopolysaccarhide) influences our mood, inflammation, weight and can play a role is disease states such as alcoholic liver disease, atherosclerosis and congestive heart failure. The good news is that some simple dietary changes can reduce the amount of gram-negative bacteria you have and therefore reduce lipopolysaccarhide.
You can encourage the growth of bacteria that produce butyrate. Butyrate maintains and promotes intestinal barrier integrity, decreases absorption of lipopolysaccarhide, and enhances colonic motility, so is great for constipation!
Butyrate also plays a role in insulin sensitivity, nerve cell health, energy, and decreasing inflammation.
We can get a good idea of the amount of methane producing bacteria you have, which may be contributing to constipation. We can see if hydrogen sulphide producing bacteria are causing visceral pain.
I could go on and on about what we can find out about the little guys in your gut but I'll leave it here. What I will say is that it is completely possible to change your microbiota with diet and lifestyle strategies, and perhaps a few targeted supplements, depending on what is going on.
Us naturopaths have had it right all along - you've got to treat the gut!
If you have any concerns about your gut or another health issue, please get in touch and book an appointment.