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MICROBIOME

Have you ever taken anti-biotics for anything other than a life threatening infection? If so you could be doing more harm than good due to the impact on your own personal microbiome. Growing research has shown that the trillions of tiny bugs that live in our gut could hold the key in tackling conditions ranging from obesity to asthma, allergies and often crippling autoimmune disorders such as Crohn’s disease.

Latest estimates on the number of human cells in the body fall in the vicinity of 37 trillion cells. The cells of our microbiome on the other hand are estimated to be around 100 trillion. Microscopic bugs that live on our skin, gut, nose and mouths number 3 times that of our “own” human cells. In fact the total weight of cells that make up our microbiome can reach a whopping 2.5kg.

The misconception that microbes are germs, pathogens and disease-bearingorganisms has led us to become obsessed with disinfectants and antibiotics. Bacteria play a crucial role in the development of our immune systems. New born babies are colonized at birth with microbes from the mother and the environment. The rise in popularity ofdelivery via caesarean, poor rates of breastfeeding, and an obsession with cleanliness has negatively impacted our children’s microbiome.

Many of the chronic diseases of the 20th and 21st century can be linked to nutrition and autoimmune processes. Our microbiome is directly responsible in the development of these disorders. Functional Medicine places digestive and microbiome health at the centre of many treatment protocols. Restoring digestive and microbiome health can help with the following disorders;

  • Arthritis
  • Gum and mouth disease
  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) such as Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Bloating
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression
  • Skin conditions
  • Autism
 

HOW DO WE TEST YOUR MICROBIOME?

Complete Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA) testing can give you an insight into your digestive and microbiome health along with parasite identification. Bacteria Diversity Profiling via DNA technology can give you more specific information about all bacterial species found in the gut. This type of technology can reveal;

  • Percentage of different types of bacterial species present in your gut
  • How the bacteria in your gut is affecting your overall health
  • The presence of any known pathogenic bacteria
  • How the food you eat is affecting your microbiome

The abnormal overgrowth of microflora in the small and large intestine is known as “gut dysbiosis”. The metabolic products of gut microbes can also be measured in urine, making the organic acids test another valuable tool to measure the microbiome and gut dysbiosis.

HOW TO CHANGE YOUR MICROBIOME

You are what you eat, and so are the bacteria that live in your gut. The trillions of bacteria within us are extremely responsive to changes in the food we eat. Changes in the microbiome can be seen after just three to four days of changing the foods we eat.

A recent study that compared two groups of people on either plant based or animal based diets showed that the subjects who were eating animal products such as milk, cheese and meat displayed a significant increase in a type of bacteria in their gut which is a known contributor to colitis. Colitis is a variety of inflammatory bowel disease and a common precursor to bowel cancer. One reason that a plant based diet is healthier than one laden with animal protein.

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