Posted on 04/05/2017 at 12:00 AM by Embria Health Sciences
By Dr. Lisa Metzgar:
- You are more bacteria than human.
Our bodies contain over 100 trillion bacteria. We have 10 times more bacteria than human cells and they play a significant role in our health and longevity.
- You get your first dose of bacteria when you travel down the birth canal and through breast milk(1).
Most of our bacteria is acquired by age 3 and can dictate the state of our health for the rest of our lives. There is some evidence that babies born through C-section may have some differences in their microbiome and may be more susceptible to allergies(2).
- Bacteria are not all bad.
We often associate bacteria with harmful infections in the body that we need to take antibiotics to combat. Most of the bacteria in our guts are beneficial bacteria that perform many functions like boosting our immune system, communicating with our brain, and aiding in the digestion of our food.
- Antibiotics can increase your risk for obesity if overused in early childhood.
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity suggests that use of antibiotics in the first 6 months of life when our gut microbiomes are being developed can lead to increased body mass(3).
- Obese individuals have different bacteria than lean individuals.
Twins, both lean and obese, were tested to see if there was a difference in gut bacteria. Researchers found a difference in over 300 bacterial genes in the obese vs. lean twins(4). Many of the genes were responsible for carbohydrate and lipid metabolism.
- Everyone has a unique gut microbiome.
Studies have been done to determine if certain diets, like the Mediterranean Diet, has an influence on the gut microbiome and researchers discovered that each individual that they tested had a unique microbiome “fingerprint”(5). No two people have the same bacterial profile.
- There is a connection between your gut and your immune system.
Bacteria in our gut have many roles in supporting our immune system. Studies at John Hopkins have shown that certain cells in the lining our gut secrete antibodies and that colon problems seem to stem from the interaction of the microbiome, the immune system and the lining of the colon(6).
- Eating good food and taking nutritional supplements that feed your gut bacteria may be more effective than just taking a probiotic supplement.
Most people want to just take a pill to fix their underlying health issues when there really is no substitute for healthy eating and balancing our health naturally. Probiotic supplements aren’t bad, but they aren’t a cure for an unhealthy gut. The problem with just taking a probiotic supplement is they have a very limited variety of microorganisms and as we saw from number 6, we all have unique bacterial “fingerprints”. A good way to support your unique microbiome is to eat healthy foods and take a supplement like EpiCor that studies show acts as a prebiotic to feed your unique bacterial composition.
- Balancing your gut with probiotics and prebiotics can help with depression and anxiety.
This goes back to the fact that our guts and our are brains are in constant communication. Our gut microbiome affects how we process emotional information and it has been shown that a good diet including probiotics and prebiotics that help balance our healthy bacteria has significant positive effects on our mental wellbeing(7).
- Your gut is always communicating with the body and is known as the second brain.
The lining of our gut contains its own nervous system called the Enteric Nervous System (ENS). The ENS signals communication with the brain via neurotransmitters, hormones, and electrical impulses via millions of nerves that line the gut(8). Our gut microbiome plays an integral role in this system and can affect our physical and mental well being.
The good news is that our gut microbiome responds quickly to positive healthy habits like diet, exercise, supplementation, and body-mind practices. Any small changes you make will have a positive effect.