Wuts In Your Guts? The Microbiome

Hello folks, Dr. Michael Breen here with the Healthy Transformations program and you’re on healthytransformations.ca. Just wanted to spend a couple minutes talking to you about truly one of the most fascinating areas of contemporary science that we’re dealing with and that is the topic of the microbiome. Microbiome refers to the constellation of microorganisms that exist in and on our body but particularly microbiome makes reference to the microorganisms that exist in our gastrointestinal tract. Volume is a very interesting thing to consider. It’s estimated that a human body has about 10 trillion cells. That’s a lot of cells that make up the human body, and yet the number of microorganisms, depending on which research and who you listen to, the microbiome may in fact have 100 trillion microorganisms. So there’s 10 times as many bugs or critters on us or in us as there is human cells. So the really forward-thing science editorial people are saying, who’s in charge here? What is actually driving health? What’s driving disease? What’s controlling our physiology? It may be in fact that the microorganisms have more to do with this than what we’ve ever thought possible.

One of the other things that’s really interesting to me is that many of these organisms, bacteria, have DNA and the DNA that they have represents 99% of the total genetic influence that exists in our bodies. So we used to think that our genes determined our outcome. We know now that that’s not true but it might actually even be that it’s the genes of the bugs that are determining our outcome. Bottom line is this. Having a healthy microbiome is fundamentally important to having optimal health. If you’re not doing the things that are required to optimize your microbiome, then you can’t be possibly as healthy as you may want to be. What are those things, what do you do? Well, the whole model of taking probiotics has been one of them. That’s the consumption of these bugs and that’s been around for a long time but it certainly is gaining steam. I can tell you this, that the bugs that are in your gut and in mine eat the food that we eat. So what goes between my lips and goes down, the bugs get first dibs at it and if the food that I’m eating is lousy food, then the bugs are gonna produce lousy outcomes and if the food that I eat is really good, then the microbiome will take that good food and turn it into all kinds of remarkable chemicals that actually lead to terrifically good health outcomes. So the Healthy Transformations program actually addresses this as part of the dietary modeling that we use. If you’d like to learn more about the Healthy Transformations program, go to the website and try to attend one of our workshops. We have a few more to go in December, in January. Our class fills up really rapidly but we’d love to have you join us and learn more about how a healthy microbiome can drive health in you and your family.

Bugs In Your Gut

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It may sound like science-fiction to many, but your gut bacteria may have more of an influence than we think. A recent study involving mice and microbiomes shows a link between our gut bacteria and appetite, showing that what we eat today has a future effect on our cravings and hunger tomorrow!

Bugs in our Gut

Our guts are immensely complex systems that contain many species of bacteria; in fact, bacteria genes outnumber human genes by 100 to 1!  Many gut bacteria manufacture special genes called peptides that can regulate and influence hunger. An interesting study shows that people who desire chocolate have a different microbial breakdown, despite eating identical diets. Another study shows that mice raised in a germ-free environment prefer more sweets and have more sweet receptors. While more research is needed, this shows how important the food we choose to consume is to not only our overall health but also our craving and food tastes.

But, Our Brains Too?

Scientists have long known that microbes live inside us. Still, it is only recently that science sees a connection between our mental health and microbiome and the role it plays in diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and autism.

Evidence shows that the bacteria in our stomachs influence our minds, also contributing to depression and isolating feelings. Scientists discovered differences in the amygdala, a region that is responsible for processing social emotions, between mice and germ-free mice. One study shows that mice that were given fecal transplants from depressed humans also became ‘depressed,’ giving up when captured much earlier than the control mice, showing how our gut microbiomes influence our mental state.

Additional studies show that children with autism have different patterns of microbial species in their stool, signifying that there is a link between our stomachs and our minds. As much of the studies have yet to prove cause and effect fully, more research is needed. Still, scientists are confident that bacteria play an essential role in our mental health.

What’s Next for Research

Doctors hope to continue to gain a better understanding of how our microbiomes influence our brains to treat psychiatric and neurological conditions better and clear up some of the misconceptions about the science. More clinical trials are needed to assess the influences guts have on various conditions.

What Can We Do About It?

Understanding how an ecosystem of microbes impact our stomachs and our overall health is an important step in educating ourselves to the importance of diet throughout life. As we are germ-free when we are born, our gut bacteria are influenced by the environment and what we consume. This means that we can change our microbiomes, reducing inflammation and positively influencing our mental health.

What You Can Do to Alter Your Microbiome

Well, studies show that one of the most important factors in reducing disease and improving the gut microbiome is diet. Good thing it is one of the most accessible factors that you can control in your life. Understanding the adverse effects a western diet has on your health and gut is vital to both your physical and mental health. A study of mice shows that after just 12 weeks of a western-style diet made them both obese and diabetic, doubling their weight – only 12 weeks! Their colons were dominated by pro-inflammatory bacteria, and their entire bodies showed signs of inflammation. Do you still want that bowl of Cheetos now?

The Bottom Line

Our guts play a more significant role in our overall health than we had known. With more attention to our diets, we are able to positively change our microbiome. By eating a diet rich in leafy greens, lots of vegetables, and removing packaged and processed foods, your gut will thank you, and it looks like your brain will too

Christopher James Lawrence is a Co-Founder of the Healthy Transformations Program with Dr. Mike Breen.  He is also the Chief Value Officer and Founder of Change My Life Coaching and Co-Founder of Change My Business Coaching — a fast growing whole-life, leadership and business coaching company, and the only one of it’s kind.  He is also the author of “Go Beyond Passion: Discover Your Dream Job”.  Christopher is a Certified Master Coach Practitioner (CMCP), trainer and facilitator, and a passionate public speaker that truly cares about the success of each and every single person he comes into contact with. You can reach him here.