15 Nov How To Improve The Health Of Your Gut Microbiome
The human gut microbiome has been gaining more attention in recent years as studies have revealed its impact on health and disease. But what exactly is the gut microbiome, and how can you make it healthier? Read on to learn more!
What is the human gut microbiome?
The gut microbiome is an intricate combination of fungi, viruses, bacteria, and other microscopic organisms that live in the cecum, a “pocket” located in the large intestine. Your microbiome is responsible for many tasks within the body, including:
- Digestion: Specific strains of bacteria break fiber down into short-chain fatty acids, which can help prevent weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer risk
- Immune System control: The gut microbiome communicates with immune cells to control the body’s response to infection
- Brain health: The gut microbiome produces 95% of the body’s serotonin supply, and helps regulate communication between the gut and the brain
Researchers continue to study the gut microbiome and its influence on body function and overall health.
What makes a healthy gut microbiome?
In general, the more diverse gut bacteria is, the better it is for your health. Two-thirds of the human gut microbiome is unique to each person. The make-up of the gut microbiome is influenced by genes, diet, and other environmental factors.
Studies of gut microbiota indicate that specific strains of bacteria play roles in maintaining health or may be linked to certain conditions. Examples include:
- Christensenella minuta is a gut bacteria linked to having a low body weight, and is highly influenced by genes
- Studies indicate that children with autism consistently showed low levels of three specific bacterial strains – Prevotella, Coprococcus, and Veillonessaceae
- High levels of Akkermansiaceae have been linked to reduced risk of obesity
Is there a gut microbiome diet?
The Microbiome Diet was developed by Dr. Raphael Kellman to achieve overall health by focusing diet around the restoration of gut health. It is broken into three phases:
Phase 1 involves following the “Four R’s” of intestinal health
- Removing foods, toxins, and harmful chemicals that can cause inflammation or imbalance in gut microbiota
- Repair and heal your gut with plant-based foods and supplements
- Replace stomach acid and digestive enzymes with spices, herbs, or supplements to improve gut bacteria quality
- Reinoculate your gut by introducing healthy bacteria with probiotic and prebiotic foods and supplements
Phase 2 is basically a continuation of Phase 1, but allows up to 4 weekly meals including “cheat” foods
Phase 3 is considered the “maintenance” phase, which continues indefinitely. It allows one “cheat” meal a day, but still strongly discourages processed foods and added sugar.
In addition to regulating foods, The Microbiome Diet also advises against medications that can damage gut bacteria like NSAIDs, proton pump inhibitors, and antibiotics.
While following this diet can have various health benefits, it is important to note it is a very restrictive and expensive diet.
- Many of the foods excluded from the diet are nutritious and have health benefits to those without intolerances.
- The cost of the numerous recommended supplements adds up, and there is little scientific evidence linking many of the recommended supplements to improved gut health.
- Finally, this diet strongly advocates the exclusive use of organic produce; there is little scientific evidence that non-organic foods are damaging to the gut microbiome.
Can children have an unhealthy gut microbiome?
Research into the role of gut microbiota in childhood development has intensified in recent years. One study, which explored links between the gut microbiome and childhood obesity, found that there were eight groups of gut microbiota linked to levels of body fat. Four of those groups were more abundant in obese children and teens, and appeared to enable them to digest carbohydrates more efficiently than those in normal weight range.
Another study shows strong links between childhood behavior and the gut microbiome. A few specific bacteria were linked to children with behavioral dysregulation or who are at socioeconomic risk. The study also indicated that caregiver behavior strongly influences the degree to which the gut microbiome was affected.
What does microbiome testing include?
If you are interested in getting your gut microbiota evaluated, you can have it tested. Gut microbiome tests require you to provide a stool sample for analysis, and are available as home kits or from healthcare professionals. Home kits allow you to collect a stool sample to be sent to a lab.
While these tests are a good first step in understanding more about your gut microbiota, they aren’t sufficient for diagnosing health issues. It should also be noted that home gut microbiome test kits do not have Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.
In order to address chronic symptoms and have a proper diagnosis, a healthcare professional would conduct a series of tests over a period of time. This allows a much more thorough understanding of your gut microbiota and how it affects your health.
Concierge MD Can Bring Microbiome Testing To You
Address your gut health without leaving home with Concierge MD. You can schedule an appointment for one of our licensed medical professionals to come to your home and collect stool samples. Your samples will be sent to our lab for a full Microbial Profile, which assesses your microbiome.
Once results are received, our medical experts will help you interpret results and what they mean for your health. If your profile indicates any bacterial imbalances or deficiencies, our team can help suggest ways you can heal your gut microbiome and restore balance.
Convenient, discreet, professional health care that prioritizes your needs. Call or click for more information or to book an appointment today!