• Lucy Brown

Tackling chronic disease

We all know someone who suffers from diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disease, depression, anxiety, autism, heart disease or cancer. 

These chronic diseases are caused by low grade chronic inflammation which starts inside your gut and is often caused by the foods we all eat every single day that we think are healthy.  

Your gut is home to trillions of microorganisms that perform various functions ranging from strengthening the immune system, generating chemicals that make you feel happy, and extracting energy from food that you eat. 

So, let’s explore 10 reasons why your gut is so important... 

1. Your gut microbiome behaves more like an organ: 

While scientists are hesitant to call the gut microbiome an organ due to the fact that it consists mainly of species that are not of human origin, it does in fact behave like an organ when it comes to performing specific functions throughout the body. 

In fact, the gut microbiome is a key player in the nervous system, the immune system, and the endocrine system. 

2. Your gut microbiome acts like a second brain: 

Nearly four and a half pounds of bacteria and other microbes exist in the gut at any given time. 

Together, these microbiota, the enteric nervous system, and the vagus nerve are responsible for 80% of the signals sent from the body to the brain. 

The gut microbiome is referred to as the second brain because there is strong evidence it affects your mood, happiness, motivation, behavior, hunger level, and even can contribute to suboptimal neurological performance later in life. 

3. Your gut microbiome has more diversity than a rainforest:  

When we think of the Amazon rainforest, images of a rich, diverse ecosystem with many different species may come to mind. But, the Amazon pales in comparison to the gut microbiota, which is far more diverse with over 40 trillion different species. 

As a whole, the Western world is actually losing diversity in their gut microbiome. 

Excessive antibiotic use, spending the majority of our time indoors, and moving into the cities have contributed to this loss in biodiversity. 

This loss of diversity is a concern to many researchers and health professionals because our understanding of how important these microorganisms has only just begun. 

4. Your gut microorganisms aren’t all “bad guys”: 

We have been quick to name some bacteria like E.coli as “bad guys”, when in fact they actually provide a benefit to some locations within the gut. 

In reality, E. coli helps stimulate regeneration of the gut lining. 

When it comes to gut microbiome health it’s all about optimizing your microbes and understanding how they function uniquely inside you. 

5. Your genes are outnumbered: 

The genes found in your gut microbiome outnumber your human genes 150 to 1. 

When DNA was discovered, scientists thought they’d found the blueprint to our individuality. 

However, they were surprised to discover we are actually 99.9% the same when it comes to our DNA.On the other hand, when it comes to the genetic makeup of our microbes, we are less than 5% similar to another person. 

6. Your gut microbiome will determine if you are overweight or lean: 

Looking at the composition of your gut microbiome, researchers can tell with 90% accuracy whether you’re overweight or lean. 

This has interesting implications because we know that the microbiome is essential to metabolism through harvesting and storing energy. 

7. There are more than just bacteria in your gut: 

Although your gut microbiome is made up mostly of bacteria, there are also all sorts of other organisms in there including archaea, fungi, yeast, and bacteriophages. 

Archaea are an ancient organism that have no cell nucleus, often produce methane and have the distinct ability to live in extreme environments, including your acidic gut. 

Your gut is also full of yeast and other fungi and possibly even a few parasites too.  

But, perhaps the most fascinating of all of the gut’s inhabitants are bacteriophages, which are tiny viruses that infect specific bacteria. Since these organisms target particular bacteria, the hope is that in the future they can be used as a targeted antibiotic.

8. Antibiotics wreak havoc on your gut microbiome:

Antibiotics are like a nuclear bomb for your gut microbiota and can quickly change its composition, potentially leading to dysbiosis. 

Although antibiotics can be necessary to treat certain ailments, they can have both short and long-term effects on your health due to the fact that the microbiome is critical in many physiological processes including immune system regulation.  

9. Your microbiome is astoundingly resilient: 

Although antibiotics aren’t great for your gut microbiome, you’ll be happy to know that your microbes have an amazing ability to recover just like the human body in general. 

If you take good care of your gut by eating the right foods that support your unique microbiome, you can boost the beneficial bacteria and work to restore balance.

10. The microbiome is at the epicenter of revolutionary science and research: 

Functional metagenomics goes beyond identifying who’s in our gut to find out what’s actually going on inside our gut. 

Metatranscriptomic sequencing technology, is at the forefront of this gut revolution. 

Measuring the functions of the microbes—what their genes tell them to do—is extremely important, as scientists have begun to suggest that the function of the microbiome (what your microbes are doing) is more important than the composition (who's there) to overall health and disease outcomes. 

How to take the next step?

If you’re curious about your personal gut inhabitants and how they’re working together, you will be interested to hear about Viome - the only company that can not only identify ALL bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungus, and mold in your gut, but also analyzes what these organisms are actually producing, and which could be causing your body harm.

Metatranscriptomic sequencing technology, which is what Viome uses, is at the forefront of this gut revolution. 

Measuring the functions of the microbes—what their genes tell them to do—is extremely important, as scientists have begun to suggest that the function of the microbiome (what your microbes are doing) is more important than the composition (who's there) to overall health and disease outcomes. 

What Viome sees goes a step beyond information about what the microbes can do in a hypothetical sense. They can tell you what genes are actually expressing!

The report is great and gives you a full breakdown of your gut microbiome microbes, tells you what needs improving and then proposes which foods are your superfoods, enjoy, minimise and avoid, in order to correct your overall health.

Viome is one of the tools I recommend to my clients to help us establish a baseline and to try to be a bit more scientific that just say 'ditch the carbs and a miracle will happen'. We are all different at our start point and may need a slightly different approach - there is no one size fits all when it comes to nutrition.

Give me a call if you would like to find out more.

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