Updated: Oct 3, 2020
We all have the opportunity to engage helpers that aid in healing our bodies. That's because "we are the host with the most".
The most microorganisms that is! Our skin mouths and intestines contain trillions of microorganisms commonly referred to as microbiota or human biome. I can recall learning in grammar school that good hygiene practices could/can reduce both external and oral bacteria levels. The rest we have to live with. Since we have no choice it's good to know the extent of our partnership and how to maximize any potential mutual benefits.
Can we control them? Or, do they control us? What I've learned since my youth is that our silent internal network continuously shares vast resources and influences our health, mood and digestion.
The Gut Is Our Brains Messenger
Scientist now consider our gut as a second brain. According to research our digestive system is a remarkable ecosystem that communicates through neural and bacterial channels. I read an article by M.D. Richard Cytowic that stated, "90% of our gut cells carry information to the brain rather than receive messages from it".
There is evidence that a healthy gastrointestinal system can suppress inflammation and lower stress reaction and cortisol levels. It can even improve memory, and reduce overanxious tendencies. In short, to have good health is to have a healthy gut.
Poor gut health can result in auto-intoxication. This occurs when irregular/ slow bowels persist and cause stagnant fecal material to decompose. Undigested proteins, fats, oils and carbohydrates ferment, rot and turn rancid inside the intestines. During this process bacteria, yeast and fungi gorge on the material and produce waste products. The waste releases harmful toxins that become absorbed into the bloodstream. This further causes the digestive organs and immune system to become over-worked and inflamed in attempt to stay healthy.
Slow or constipated bowels are not the only risk factor for microbial overgrowth. Our beneficial bacteria becomes unhealthy in toxic environments and die off which leave the bad bacteria left to thrive. Consuming high amounts of carbohydrates can result in the formation of bad bacteria overgrowth. A lack of any of the brush border enzymes can cause a slow down of digestion that can lead to overgrowth. Certain populations are at risk for overgrowth such as Mediterranean and Oriental/ Asian races that often lack lactase enzymes due to their diets which rarely includes milk past childhood. Antibiotics, congenital defects, inherited and acquired disorders, diabetes and hypothyroidism can all slow down digestion or cause bad bacterium overgrowth (9).
A toxic gut can trigger immune responses such as leaky gut syndrome and fibromyalgia (7). Additional bad bacteria overgrowth manifestations:
Belching Irritable bowel disease
Cancer Poor memory
Fatigue Skin problems
Gas Slow metabolism
(This list is not all-inclusive and additional factors could also contribute towards the development of any of these disorders and conditions.)
Studies have investigated certain beneficial bacteria to prevent and treat chronic illnesses like those listed above with some positive outcomes. In colorectal cancer a combination of prebiotics and bifidobacteria reduced the occurrence of carcinogen-induced cancerous cells in mice (8). A human trial for ulcerative colitis resulted in 15 out of 20 patients remaining symptom free while taking three Bifidobacterium strains, four Lactobacillus strains and one S. thermophilus strain (8).
A healthy gut promotes a healthy mood The link between the brain and gut is a two-way street. Immune functions and gastrointestinal activity influence the brain and in turn shape the gut's microbial makeup" (3), " Disruptions of the microbiome in lab mice induced behavior that mimicked human anxiety, depression and even autism. Improvements were repeatedly observed after the introduction of certain strains of bacteria" (3).
Psychobiotics Psychobiotics are beneficial bacteria in the form of probiotics, i.e. Bifidobacteria & Lactobacilli or prebiotics that supports probiotics. Beneficial Bacteria StrainsGalacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) and fructo-oligosaccharides influence bacteria–brain relationships. (5) Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum- reduces stress hormone cortisol, anxiety and depression.Lactobacillus rhamnosus- increasess dopamine, lowers anxiety
Human Biome and Digestion/Appetite It appears that we cannot claim our appetites as our own. Intestinal microbes influence our palate and they have different nutritional preferences such as sugar, proteins, oils or fats. Here is a simple explanation. They release chemicals or toxins that communicate to our brains to crave foods they need or to reject foods for their survival. This results in food cravings and feeling good after giving them what they want or feeling bad after making an undesired selection. They even determine how slow or fast we metabolize our food. "Microbes influence what the human host is able to extract from its diet, both nutritionally and energetically"
A lab test revealed that mice receiving the same diet resulted in both obese and lean physiques depending on their microbes. Altering microbiota changed their overall results (4). Humans have also resorted to: alterations, Fecal Microbiota Transplants (FMT) stool transplants for weight loss with successful results. That personally sounds a bit extreme.
How To Take Care Of Your Gut
Our good bacteria are forced to compete with our bad bacteria. We do not have to passively settle for microbe discord. There are ways to defeat bad bacteria overgrowth with food and probiotic/prebiotic supplements. Food: Consume a diet that is naturally rich in beneficial prebiotic and probiotics. P
Prebiotic foods: fibers artichokes, bananas, honey and whole grains
Probiotic rich: organic yogurts, cultured organic dairy and non-dairy products
Stay well hydrated
Consume fermented food and drinks
When purchasing supplements for a healthy gut look for these bacterium strains:
Lactobacillus acidophilus Lactobacillus plantarum
Lactobacillus bulgaricus Lactobacillus casei
Enterococcus faecium Bifidobacterium bifidum
Saccharomyces boulardii Bifidobacterium lactis
Lactobacillus gasseri Bifidobacterium longum
Make a conscious effort to manage healthy microbes daily that could benefit your overall health, mood and digestion with healthy food and a probiotic and prebiotic supplement.
I am constantly learning on my quest to stay healthy and happy and I am always happy to share.
This article is intended for informational and educational purposes. It is not intended to be medical advice and it is not meant to diagnose or medically treat any disease or condition, including brain injury or mental illness. Always consult a qualified medical professional before acting on any of the content on this site or any website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.