Microbiome is a term that refers to a complex community of microbes, mostly made up of bacteria with some yeasts, viruses, and others that live on and in our bodies. We are covered with trillions of microscopic bugs – this is a good thing!

How do we end up covered with microbes? To start, we get them from our mother as we pass through the birth canal. Through the birthing process, we inhale and are covered from head to toe with microbes. Over time, our microbiome evolves as it interacts with the environment, the food we eat, stress, and drugs we may take such as antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors such as Nexium and Prilosec.

What does our microbiome do for us? So many things! The health of our gut microbiome determines how well we can digest and absorb the nutrients from the food we eat WHICH IMPACTS ALL OTHER BODY PROCESSES. Our microbiome is where most of our immune system lives or originates from. It is also responsible for the regulation of mood, anxiety, and pain.[1] Autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, lupus, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and fibromyalgia are among the many associated with dysfunction in the microbiome.[2]

How might our microbiome become compromised? Babies born by cesarean section or who were not breastfed start out life with less-than-ideal conditions for a thriving microbiome. Environmental toxins like car exhaust, plastic food packaging, pesticides, fungicides, and chorine in our tap water will all negatively impact the strength of our microbiome. Other insults come in the form of low nutrient-containing processed and packaged foods. And the thing none of us can escape – stress! This is by no means an exhaustive list, but you get the picture.

What can we do to protect our microbiome? The good news is there are a lot of things we can do to nurture our microbiome starting with eating a nutrient-dense whole food diet. What does this mean? It means breaking up with processed and fast foods in favor of non-starchy colorful fruits and veggies. Buying organic as much as your food budget will allow. The quality of the meat you eat matters. Buy organic pasture-raised meat and eggs. Check your local farmers market for quality sources.

The GI-MAP and MRT – the dynamic duo! Find out the status of your microbiome with a simple stool test. My preferred stool test is the GI-MAP. It provides a comprehensive analysis identifying pathogens, beneficial and opportunistic bacteria, viruses, parasites, and several gut health markers. Combining stool analysis with the identification of food sensitivities is a game-changer. I use the Mediator Release Test as a powerful tool to pinpoint foods that drive inflammation and damage gut integrity without the guesswork of a traditional elimination diet. I’ll go into the power of these two tests in next month’s blog. In the meantime, if any of this has piqued your interest reach out! I would love to talk about the healing opportunity this dynamic duo has to offer.

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References:

[1] Mohajeri, M. H., Brummer, R., Rastall, R. A., Weersma, R. K., Harmsen, H., Faas, M., & Eggersdorfer, M. (2018). The role of the microbiome for human health: from basic science to clinical applications. European journal of nutrition, 57(Suppl 1), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-018-1703-4

[2] Proal, A. D., & Marshall, T. G. (2018). Re-framing the theory of autoimmunity in the era of the microbiome: persistent pathogens, autoantibodies, and molecular mimicry. Discovery medicine, 25(140), 299–308.