An Introductory History to Gut Microbiome Research
What is your gut flora?
The gut flora or gut microbiome is a collection of microorganisms that live inside the digestive tract of every person. These microorganisms are helpful in proper digestion. An imbalance can have the opposite effect bringing about a variety of issues relating to the irritability of the stomach.
What is gut microbiome research and how is it used?
What is it?
It is estimated that every person has just as many microorganisms living in their stomach as they do cells in the entire body!
A collection of different fungi, bacteria, and viruses make up the trillions of microorganisms in the gut. Thankfully, it is estimated that only 10-20% of these microorganisms are ever shared to another person, meaning that your microflora focuses more on helping or maintaining your own body, as opposed to fighting outside threats and illness.
The microorganisms living in the body are different for every person. The amount of each depends on the individuals’ diet and lifestyle, as well as the presence or absence of the microorganisms, which can affect someones’ appetite, weight, and even mood.
You are what you eat?
You’ve surely heard the expression before, but scientists are finding that this could be closer to the truth than we previously thought.
The gut microbiome changes “rapidly” with diet. A group of six scientists noted a clear difference with diet in their study. The test changed subjects that consumed a low fat plant-based diet, to a “western” high fat/high sugar diet. The results showed a shift in the structure of the microbiome, as well as, the metabolic pathways and expression.
In simple terms, a high fat/high sugar diet changed the gut microbiome entirely in one day!
Scientists from ‘Scientific American‘ confirmed these findings, showing a clear difference in the microbiome, the type of microorganisms present in the gut, and the genes that they were expressing. The scientists noted changes occurring as quickly as 3-4 days from a change in what someone ate.
What is a Healthy Gut?
A healthy gut is different for every person, and unfortunately what works for one person, may not be the best for another person.
Scientists are unable to say with certainty which is good and which is not, but they hypothesize that those that eat a healthier plant-based diet will have healthier gut biomes. Gut microbiome research has come a long way and scientists are able to say with certainty that the gut biome directly affects the GI tract of the person.
Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Symptom (IBS), which can affect as many as 10-20% of U.S. adults, have been seen as a byproduct of a changed microbiome. The scientists that are doing gut microbiome research want the public to understand that there are no connections to made yet. The science community is not saying that one diet is necessarily bad or good, just that they affect the gut in different ways.
As said before, every persons’ gut is different and the things they need change, which makes it difficult to say what works best for the gut universally. Your gut biome began to develop when you were born and changes every day with your food choices, lifestyle decisions, and stress levels too.
Gut Microbiome Research: Signs and Symptoms
What is gut health?
It’s hard to say what exactly gut health is, due to the changes every person has in their own gut microflora and the diet they adhere to. There are a few symptoms and byproducts that can be used as signs though.
An upset stomach with repeated feelings of bloating, heartburn or gas could be directly related to the gut biome and the difficulties that the gut is having processing the food.
Other signs are seen in unintentional weight fluctuations and sleep problems. A change in weight going up or down without a change in exercise could be the result of an imbalanced gut. The gut may be unable to process the nutrients, store fat and regulate blood sugars as needed.
Insomnia, poor sleep and constant fatigue can be related to gut issues. The body’s supply of serotonin is produced in the gut, and serotonin not only affects mood but also sleep. This means that gut damage or issues could be affecting your mood and sleep as well!
Finally, gut microbiome research has shown that an increase in skin conditions like eczema could be due to gut health! Gut health plays a role in constant inflammation in the body. This inflammation can even lead to additional autoimmune issues if left unresolved.
Not all is lost though! If you can lower stress levels and get enough sleep you are already on your way to repairing any gut issues you may have!
Can it be fixed?
Is there any way to fix this?
The evidence is available to show that the gut is highly responsive to change both good and bad. More fruit gives rise to different microorganisms than high sugar foods do.
The gut will only work as well as the foods it is given, but there are other things that help to make this process easier. There are even supplements that help with digestion. These supplements can help the gut in different ways.
Probiotics can be introduced to help with the digestive process. Digestive enzymes can be taken if the body is lagging behind in its’ natural production of enzymes too.
Along with probiotics and digestive enzymes, peppermint oil, Pepin and other supplements can also be used to get your gut operating at it’s most effective.
An estimated 25-45 million people in the United States deal with IBS symptoms!
The gut plays a bigger part in our lives than we thought possible before, but the evidence is clear, what we eat will affect us! It’s important to take care of yourself as it will make your mood better, help you get more restful sleep and make you more energized! Supplements can also be used to help boost the gut, but every person is different.
Gut microbiome research has come a long way, and proven that our gut microbiomes are changing every day… like the saying goes put good in, get good out, your gut included!