Did you know that the human body has 30 trillion human cells and 39 trillion microbial cells… and that while we have approx. 20 thousand human genes, we host anywhere between 2 and 20 million bacterial genes (everyone is different), leaving us to be genetically less than 1% human!
We have known for some time that our gut makes up more than 70% of our immune system and disruptions of the microbiome can increase susceptibility to infections. Gut health also plays a large role in allergies such as eczema, hay fever and asthma and naturally the gut bacteria is highly involved in IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and other digestive conditions. Science is also starting to uncover the large role our gut microbiome has to play in a wide range of other conditions. The inflammation created from our gut bacteria can make its way to our blood stream and cause fatigue, depression, anxiety, brain fog and insomnia and has been connected to many other health conditions such as cardiometabolic health, diabetes, obesity and auto-immune conditions. In addition our gut micobiome has been shown to influence epi-genetics, our ability to turn genes off and on!
Western populations generally lack gut bacteria diversity, particularly compared to traditional communities such as the hunter gatherers of Tanzania. This lack of diversity particularly impacts cardiovascular health indicators such as cholesterol, insulin sensitivity, adiposity and inflammation.
A few key tips to a healthy gut microbiome include:
- Addressing stress and sleep health issues
- Limiting sugar and artificial sweetener consumption
- Avoiding excess alcohol and tobacco exposure
- Ensuring adequate nutrition, particularly Zinc, Magnesium, Omega 3 EFAs & Vitamins A, C & D
- Avoiding toxin exposure including pesticides, airborne pollutants, moulds, antibiotics (when practical) and plastics such as phthalates and bisphenols
- Eating a diet rich in vegetables & fruits, ensuring adequate fibre and phyto-chemical consumption
- Maintain good exercise & activity levels
- Include fermented foods in your diet
Probiotic supplementation can make a significant difference to your gut health and different gut strains have been shown to be effective for different conditions. It’s not the quantity of bacteria in a probiotic capsule that counts, but whether the strains are specific for your needs and at doses supported by research.
Want more information?
Contact me for specific probiotic advice and/or to work out the gut program best suited to you.
I can also provide references and further information for those more interested in the science.