You may have heard me refer to microbiome restoration and thought what on earth is she talking about?
Your microbiome is the bacteria that live on and in your body. For the purpose of this article I will be discussing the gut microbiome only, however there are therapeutic benefits to restoring the microbiome in other parts of your body too.
Picture your microbiome as a rainforest, replete with towering trees that bring protection and health to the entire ecosystem. From the tallest trees to ferns, moss and even the weeds that are kept in check by the health of the rest of the ecosystem yet still have their place.
Here are some interesting facts about your microbiome:
- It is unique to you.
- It lives in a symbiotic relationship of mutual benefit with you.
- The vast majority of your microbiome dwells within your large intestine.
- The microbiome can also be found on your skin, up your nose, in your vagina, you even have an armpit microbiome
- It weighs around 2-3kg.
There a many modern lifestyle and environmental factors that negatively affect the microbiome. Food treated with pesticides & herbicides, additives like preservatives, medications, lack of exercise and diets low in plant foods and high in animal products all make an impact on the beneficial bacteria living in your large intestine.
Antibiotics pose one of the most serious threats to microbiome health. They are designed to eliminate bacteria, wonderful if you have a life threatening infection, but not so great for your microbiome when taken more than every few years.
What is dysbiosis?
When bacterial levels suffer we start to see some of the beneficial bacteria die off and less desirable species taking their place. Sometimes, as was the case for me, we can wipe out entire beneficial bacterial species. This is called dysbiosis and basically means your gut ecosystem is starting to look less like the Daintree Rainforest and more like an Indonesian palm plantation.
So why does it need restoring?
A dysbiotic microbiome is associated with many health conditions; Irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune disease, type 2 diabetes, anxiety, depression, obesity, cancer, allergies, asthma, eczema and more. Those with moderate to severe dysbiosis will often experience symptoms of IBS, food intolerances, bloating and increased pain awareness in their abdomen as well as being higher risk for the above conditions. Research into the microbiome is still in its infancy. The technology used to correctly identify the different species found in a stool test is quite new so expect to keep hearing more and more about the wonders of the microbiome in the future as further research is conducted.
What can you do to improve your microbiome health at home?
There are a few things you can do to nurture your microbiome
- Eat a wide variety of plant based fibres. Aim for 40 different plant varieties per week. Anything that is dark in colour like blueberries & cocoa or spices like clove & cinnamon get extra points for their gut loving polyphenols.
- Avoid preservatives in food because what are they designed to do? Kill bacteria!
- Consume small amounts of fermented foods with meals. Please note this isn’t for everybody, stop consuming fermented foods if you get abdominal pain, hives, headaches, sinus issues or difficulty breathing.
Analysing your microbiome with a take home stool test is easy and affordable. Contact me today to find out more.
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