What is the gut microbiome and how can it be supported?
Our gut microbiome is responsible for detoxing, creating vitamins, digesting foods and regulating the immune system amongst others.
What is your gut microbiome?
The gut microbiome is the bacteria, fungi and viruses that reside in the gut. We have diﬀerent microbes that reside in the lungs, skin, vagina etc and each collection of microbes are unique to each person. Just like each person has a unique and individual ﬁngerprint, each person will also have a unique microbiome in each of those areas too. In the human body, we have around 30 trillion human cells, our microbiome has an estimated 39 trillion cells that live on in us so the eﬀect that they have on us can be huge. It has also been estimated that our microbiome weighs anything between 2-6 Pounds!
Where does the gut microbiome come from?
We inherit our initial microbiome from our mother and as we are birthed and go through the birth canal. Also, the foods we ate, the amount of time we spent outdoors and our emotions in the ﬁrst 2 years of life create our core microbiome. As we grow, the foods that we eat, the time we spent outdoors in nature, our emotions and stresses all eﬀect the balance of microbes in our gut and body.
What does the gut microbiome do?
Our gut microbiome is responsible for many things like detoxing, creating vitamins, digesting foods and regulating the immune system. They even help synthesise your happy hormone – serotonin. Did you know that up to 90% of serotonin is made in the gut & not the brain? We have bacteria in the gut that can be the cause of oestrogen dominance, anxiety, depression and more.
Your microbiome & testing
We are the largest functional medicine clinic in Europe and oﬀer diﬀerent gut tests to look at your microbiome. The most popular test is a stool test and this will give up a picture of:
1 – How well you are digesting your foods
2 – Inﬂammation in the gut
3 – Your microbiome. This includes good bacteria, problematic bacteria, parasites, yeast etc
4 – Leaky gut
It can not only look at the microbes that should not be there but whether you have enough of the good guys too. By looking at the results there’s a lot that can be done to improve things. What happens in the gut doesn’t stay in the gut, it has a systematic eﬀect throughout the body and so being able to support the gut as much as possible is important for gut health, hormonal health, mental health, healthy ageing, cardiovascular health and more.
There isn’t an area that is not eﬀected by the gut and so supporting it as much as possible is so important. We also know that some microbes in the gut have been linked to speciﬁc autoimmune conditions. Autoimmunity is an imbalance in the immune system and with up to 80% of the immune system being in the gut you can see how important it is to support it, luckily once we have the results back there is a lot that can be done by our award-winning clinic.
What can you do today to look after your microbiome?
Up to 80% of our immune system resides in the gut and therefore supporting the microbiome has a huge impact on immune health. There are many ways in which we can support the microbiome:
– Try and include 30 diﬀerent types of plant foods in your diet each week. Plant foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, teas, spices, legumes, beans and grains
– Try and include diﬀerent types of the same foods. For example, brown rice and black rice are considered diﬀerent foods as they feed diﬀerent microbes in the gut. This goes for all foods, for example, including diﬀerent coloured peppers (red, yellow, green), diﬀerent coloured apples, diﬀerent types of banana etc. Good gut health is about diversity and therefore including as many diﬀerent types of plant foods will feed diﬀerent microbes in the gut and allow them to grow.
– Going outside in nature – you can breathe in your microbiome from the trees and plants
– Try and reduce stress as much as possible as it has a negative eﬀect on your microbiome
– Get a pet! Studies have shown having a pet has a positive eﬀect on your microbiome
– Sleep has been associated with a positive eﬀect on your microbiome and lack sleep can have a negative eﬀect
– Being consistent and eating at the same time daily has also shown positive eﬀects
Author Farzanah Nasser
Farzanah Nasser is a fully qualified Nutritional Therapist who trained at the College of Naturopathic Medicine and is registered with both the British Association for Nutritional Therapists (BANT) and the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Her special areas of interest are autoimmunity, thyroid health, skin conditions, gut health, women’s health and stress management.