What is the microbiome?

The microbiome is considered to be the whole constellation of bacteria that live in the gastrointestinal tract,  predominantly in the colon.   There are over 100 trillion bacteria present–more than the number of cells that you have in your body.   These bacteria are very important for digestion,  and for producing various  hormones and neurotransmitters.   This “microbiome”   plays  a role in metabolism,  for breaking down food for assimilating the nutrients through the gastrointestinal surface layer,  and also it plays a role in regulating the moods,  food  cravings, and  weight management, among  other  things.   There  are  many different  subtypes of bacteria and the more  diversity of bacteria  present  the better  for the person.   People who have   a limited number of bacterial subtypes  tend to have more digestive  issues.

There  has been a recent  increase in interest lately  in the microbiome, specifically to find  treatments for  depression, obesity, irritable bowel,  and  for  bowel infections  of various kinds.     Studies  have  shown that the bacteria  are able to communicate to each other and transmit information  to other bacteria of a different  type.      Bacteria  are also impacted by the hormones produced by the adrenal gland during times of stress ,  and  this can sometimes  decrease the beneficial  bacteria   There should be  about 80 % beneficial bacterial to 20%  “bad “  bacteria.   When this proportion changes either due to stress, or to  antibiotic usage,  then a person may experience  ill effects–either  nausea, vomiting,  diarrhea,  yeast overgrowth  or  by  increasing the likelihood 0f developing food sensitivities.

There are current studies to determine if  replacing or encouraging growth of certain bacterial subtypes in the treatment of depression.  Some  subtypes are known to produce  serotonin  which is your “feel good” hormone.    If you do not make enough of this hormone,  it results in depression.    Also transplants of colonic bacteria from obese people to skinny people have caused the skinny people to gain weight, and transplants  of colonic bacteria  from skinny people to obese people have helped the obese people loose weight.    Currently colonic transplants  from  healthy individuals  to treat people  with C. Diff infections has resulted in cures of C. diff without  the use of heavy duty antibiotics.

This  leads to the question as to whether a person should take probiotics  and pre-biotics  (the food that supports beneficial bacterial  growth) .   There are a lot of companies  producing a  probiotic supplement,  some  of which require refrigeration and others that do not,   A  diet  higher in  fresh  vegetables  tends  to promote a healthier microbiome,  whereas a diet  higher in processed foods  leads to food  cravings — specifically for carbohydrates and sugar  because these diets promote the overgrowth of yeast.   The  yeast  then manufacture  substances that go through the  blood stream  to the brain causing the person to crave carbohydrates and sugar.   People  generally start  feeling  better and  find the cravings  disappear by changing the diet.   However, probiotics  are often helpful  when making trying to make the dietary changes.

Like it.? Share it: