What is the Gut Microbiome?
The Gut Microbiome refers to the microorganisms in the gut, which is the bacterial layer lining the small intestines.
Other Names for the Gut Microbiome
Intestinal flora or gut bacteria
Functions of the Microbiome
- Protective layer between the small intestines and the blood
- Promotes growth of the intestinal lining and immunity—80-85% of our immune system resides in the gut!
- Makes it difficult for pathogens to grow
- Produces anti-bacterial agents
- Helps produce vitamin K and vitamin B
- Important for muscular activity, without it we have reduced motility
Why is the Microbiome So Important?
- The microbiome is the most metabolically active organ in the body
- 99% of DNA from our body is from the microbes in our gut (1% of our DNA is human and the rest is microbial). So what does this mean? Genetic expression comes from our gut!
- Our bodies make more neurotransmitters in our gut than we do in our brain-- 90% percent of dopamine and serotonin are made in our gut
- The microbiome is the right hand of the immune system and remember from above, 80-85% of our immune system is located in the gut wall
Where Does the Microbiome Begin to Form?
Babies receive most of their gut flora from their mothers during vaginal births and through breast milk. Babies that are born through c-section or are bottle fed have a very different microbiome. Dr. Natasha Mcbride, physician and known for her groundbreaking work with GAPS (Gut And Psychology Syndrome), believes that these babies will eventually catch up through daily life—for example, sucking on their toes and from hugs and kisses from friends and relatives.
What Happens When the Microbiome Becomes Imbalanced and There is Gut Dysbiosis?
- Affects metabolism, fat storage and our ability to lose weight
- Increased risk of anemia
- Pathogenic growth occurs in the gut bacteria
- Nutritional deficiencies in essential minerals, vitamins, amino acids and fats.
- Leaky gut can occur which means that unbroken down macronutrients can leak into the bloodstream. More on Leaky Gut Here.
What Negatively Affects the Microbiome?
- Antibiotics; all of us are exposed to antibiotics both through medication and in the foods that we eat (non-organic meats, for example). They are hard to avoid so we need to consider supplemental methods to balance the microbiome.
- Poor diets that are high in processed foods and sugars
- Prolongued periods of starvation or overeating
How to Help the Microbiome?
- Eat fermented foods like kimchi and coconut kefir, pickled beets and cucumbers and onions
- Take a daily probiotic
- Eliminate processed foods
- Drink bone broth