Gut Health Bible & 6 Health Concerns Associated with the Microbiome

We all have specific tastes, goals, and desires. No matter how much of an individual we are, we all still want the same thing. Everyone would like to live a longer, happier, healthier existence. The key achieving this lies deep within the confines of your gut. This area is known as the microbiome.
 
Here, trillions of cells work in unison to make sure you continue to run like a well-oiled machine. Our microbiome is responsible for how we feel physically and emotionally. Let’s take a deep dive inside the microbiome and explain how your gut health impacts every facet of your everyday life.

 

What is Gut Health?

 
Many write gut health off as caring for a stomach ache. However, that is just a sliver of the whole pile that is known as gut health. As Father of Medicine, Hippocrates, famously stated, “All disease begins in the gut.” Every time we consume food, beverages, or medications, these solid pieces of matter get broken down by the acids in our stomach and organs in our belly.
 
As the ingested sources are broken down, their chemical compounds are dispersed out into the system. When they are nutrient-dense whole foods, the body is nourished with a load of micronutrients, amino acids, and carbohydrates. Poor food choices have a less desirable effect on the system.
 
When we are young, our bodies start off with a fresh slate. Eating preservative-rich boxed foods, high-fat drive-thru menu items, and loading up on starchy bread didn’t present much of an issue for a good portion of your life. However, these decisions add up with time.
 
By including an abundance of synthetic ingredients, artificial flavors, and GMOs into our diets, it eventually wreaks havoc on the system. That’s because these aren’t naturally occurring ingredients. Since they don’t come from nature, our body doesn’t know how to break them down.
 
With each passing calendar year, those foods become sticky plaques that suppress pathways for oxygenated red blood cells and create a breeding ground for inflammations. In the end, this disrupts the safe haven our body cells known as the microbiome.

 

What is the Microbiome?

 
It sounds a bit far-fetched, but it’s true. Our body is comprised of trillions of microscopic cells [1].They crawl all over our skin, live in our hair, and really love taking up residence deep inside of our gut. A majority of the microbes that live inside of our body can be found in the digestion tract.
 
The microbes that make up your body are various strains of fungi, virus, bacteria, archaea, and yeast. For the most part, these bugs are beneficial. They work to help you push through your day and grow into a strong, healthy, dependable member of society. In fact, these microbes have been working toward this goal your whole life.  
 
When a female egg becomes fertilized, the fetus’ first interaction with other other living organisms are the various microbes also in the womb! These formative cells are what helps create the immune system and eventually, the infrastructure of a full-blown human being.
 
The connection to a mother’s microbes are so far intertwined that studies have shown breastfeeding to “improve infant health outcomes lowering the risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal tract infections, necrotizing enterocolitis, otitis media, and allergic disease and to prevent later health problems such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes mellitus [2].”
 
Behind these promising results are the beneficial microbes that comes from the mother. We know these microbes in medicinal circles as probiotics. They are beneficial bacteria that play an integral role in every major function of life.

 

Why Gut Health is Important

 
As we age, our body continues to evolve. So do the microbes that live inside of your microbiome. Strong cells fostered from mother to infant become compromised as we enter the world. This is in thanks to  the germs of others, medications, and unhealthy food choices.
 
Any medical journal or scientific study will attest to one general principle. Inflammations are the precursor to disease [3]. No matter if you are feeling bloated, your skin is flaky, or your mind is filled to the brim with anxiety, there’s an inflammation at the root of these feelings.
 
In areas that are predominantly inhabited by beneficial microbes, everything is peachy keen. However, the compromises on our systems mentioned above (germs, meds, foods) begin to add up. This inevitably makes it more difficult for healthy microbes to maintain control over the microbiome. These are the moments where opportunistic harmful microbes strike.
 
With the growth of detrimental bacteria in the body, these strains will start to damage cells within your system. The acidic vapors of foreign microbes oxidizing will destroy cells that could otherwise be rejuvenated by an oxygenated red blood cell supply. However, due to sticky plaques caused by a lifetime of poor food choices, the blood cells have trouble getting to the area. In turn, the weakened tissues die, decay, and turn into inflammations.
 
Seeing as the majority of microbes in your body reside in your gut, this area of the microbiome acts as a sort of barometer for the system. Problems don’t tend to arise elsewhere if you haven’t started having gut issues first.
 
Poor gut health is tied to six major health care concerns. They are:
 
• Digestion
• Immunity
• Skin
• Mood
• Weight
• General
 
We’re going to dive deeper into digestive issues and their association with gut health. However, let’s uncover the importance of a diverse microbiome in treating gut-related issues first.

 

Diversity and Its Implications to Good Gut Health

 
There seems to be a running theme going on here that you may have caught onto…diversity is key to a healthy gut. From the moment we are born, we are thrust from the comfort of a mother’s womb into the germ-infested world we reside in today. Initial interactions with microbes in the womb and out of it are formative in a person’s life cycle. So formative, that studies have confirmed that cases of childhood autism have a common bond–lack of biodiversity in the microbiome [4].
 
In the microbiome, strength in numbers is a way of life. Good and evil are always in a battle for supremacy. Think of a sports team. Everyone has a role. If multiple people have the same role, then an enemy can figure out a weakness and infiltrate from there.
 
The number of microbes out there is infinite. At Thryve, our database of 35,000 scientific journals covers 4,000 microbes. However, new ones are being discovered all the time. Just like we are no longer like bonobos, microbes have evolved as well. Therefore, harmful bacteria are growing stronger and figuring out ways to work around beneficial bacteria that are in our systems.
 
As harmful bacteria evolve, we as a society have made it easier for them to grow. This is because the CDC has discovered that 47 million unnecessary antibiotics are being prescribed each year [5].
 
Antibiotics work to clear the system of viral infections. However, it also wipes out good bacteria. Due to this, your body is a clean slate. Just like a baby first entering the world, your gut is susceptible to being influenced by whatever comes in contact with it first. Studies have shown that probiotic use can significantly decrease the needs of antibiotics. By keeping your microbiome diverse, you ward off the chance of bacterial and viral infections that may render your system devastated [6].

 

Digestive Diseases Associated with Poor Gut Health

 
Your gut is your first line of defense. When you notice that something is amiss (whether you aren’t going regularly, you’re having dire cramps daily, or your stools look different), that’s a sign that something is going on inside.
 
One of the most common digestive issues that many with poor gut health encounter is Leaky Gut Syndrome. As Harvard Health explains, “We all experience a form of Leaky Gut [11].” Our digestive tract is comprised of numerous tight junctions. Just like you need to ventilate room to keep mold from growing, these tight areas need ventilation as well. After all, they’re dealing with toxic substances.
 
Due to these inner-pipings’ somewhat loose fittings, it’s not unusual for some of this toxic substances to leak into the bloodstream. In a healthy microbiome, you might feel an upset stomach but at the end of the day, the probiotics in your system will take care of it.
 
When our plumbing gets clogged up from diets full of sticky refined sugars and fatty processed foods, this allows toxins to sit longer in the tight junctions. As a result, more toxic substances are able to enter the system. This is when symptoms associated with Leaky Gut Syndrome persist.
 
Offsetting from Leaky Gut Syndrome, it may lead to the rise of two similar conditions that also common. These are Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Small Intestinal Bacterial Growth (SIBO) [8]. Symptoms for both are very common. They are described as, “abdominal pain and/or discomfort, irregular stool form and passage.”
 
Many who experience IBS also have SIBO. SIBO is a little less common because it is defined as having an “increase in bacteria equal to or greater than 105 colony forming unit per mL of upper gut aspirate.” Due to these bacterial intruders, SIBO patients have all the symptoms of IBS plus “abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating, flatulence and loose motion.”
 
Analysis on SIBO has found that “SIBO is known to occur in absence of anatomical factors predisposing to it.” In layman’s terms? Something has predisposed your body to this bacterial overgrowth. That something is a lack of probiotics in your system that keeps guard of the breeding ground.
 
Another factor doing a number on our digestive system are the fillers in our foods. From pesticides to GMOs to artificial sweeteners, our system is getting bogged down by foods that cause inflammation. Research shows that GMOs have started to transfer their DNA to living organisms such as plants and soil [9]. Seeing as we have many of the same chemical compounds as these beings, who’s to say GMOs can’t rewrite our DNA as well?
 
Let’s take gluten for example. Research indicates that this protein is the culprit for “20-45% of adults who self-report food hypersensitivity [10].” That’s because the crops our ancestors harvested are nothing like the ones used in shredded-wheat cereals, “nutrition” bars, and sandwich carriers.
 
By piling more of these indigestible foods into your diet, it leaves a food-fort for harmful bacteria to fester under. In turn, it worsens your sensitivity to these foods and leaves you susceptible to more digestive disorders.

 

Immunity Issues Associated with Poor Gut Health

 
To further prove that everything is all connected, the immune system relies on your microbiome to keep it strong. When our gut health is out of whack, it’s known as dysbiosis. Studies have found that dysbiosis can lead to autoimmune disease issues [11]. That means everything from autism to Crohn’s Disease to Parkinson’s Disease all boil down to the bacteria (or lack thereof) in our human gut microbiota.
 
What causes an autoimmune disease to develop are instances where an excited electron loses its way from the pack. When this happens, the excitatory molecule becomes a free radical and may latch onto anything that accepts an electron. Naturally, the electron and its new companion will chemically react. Depending on what this rogue electron attached itself onto, the results may be catastrophic to your immune system.
 
Besides autoimmune disease, other immune responses are also a result of your gut health. Whether you’re fighting off a cold or are knocked out in your bed from influenza, your immune cells have become compromised. Seeing as 80% of your immune cells are derived from your gut, it’s in your best interest to keep your microbiome healthy [12].
 
Immune cells do more than just keep us from using our sick days on being sick. They also keep us alive. This was discovered in a study involving fruit flies. Unbelievably, humans and fruit flies have “70 % similarity in terms of their biochemical pathways [13].” When scientists discovered that increasing the biodiversity of microbes in fruit flies’ systems increased their lifespan by 60%, it opened up researchers’ eyes. By supplementing with probiotics, these insects’ immune responses protected them against “chronic diseases associated with aging.”
 
Chronic diseases that have become increasingly troublesome for humans are an assortment of allergies. 50 million people suffer from allergies each year, with the numbers increasing exponentially since the industrial revolution [14]. Allergies happen as a result of a foreign substance weakening your immune response. As a result, you feel symptoms that range from an itchy throat to excessive sneezing to stomach pains. However, studies of 23 different bacterial strains found that your gut health has a crucial impact on how your body responds to attacks courtesy of allergens [15].

 

Mood Disorders Associated with Poor Gut Health

 
Remember those unhappy bacteria we were talking about? Well, if they’re unhappy, guess what? You’re unhappy too. Science has shown that there is a strong connection between the gut and brain. This bromance has earned our guts the moniker, “the second brain.
 
In our bodies, a long nerve connects the two ecosystems. While research articles call the line, “the gut-brain-axis,” it’s scientific name is the vagus nerve [16].
 
The vagus nerve attaches to the brainstem. Like a turkey thermometer, the base of the nerve sits at the top of our gut. Here, the neural tissues act as a barometer for how your stomach acid is stewing. When the vapors reach an unpleasurable level, the receptors receive this message for help. From there, the tissues send impulses through their axons. This process sends a signal up to the brain.
 
Your brain senses the attack of foreign antibodies and it goes into stress mode. As a result, your adrenal glands start pumping out cortisol [17]. Cortisol is our fight-or-flight instinct. It’s behind our irrational decisions when we’re upset, our sleepless nights of tossing in bed, and that anxious tick in our brain that something’s not right in our gut.
 
When gut health becomes chronic, your body’s stress levels get chronic. In turn, your stress levels become chronic. Your body can only house so many hormones. When cortisol is in overdrive, it leaves no room for other hormones to produce.
 
Hormones you lack in the wake of stress include testosterone and estrogen [18]. This will deplete your sex drive and may increase the chances of infertility [19]. These sort of life-altering situations can open the door to mental health conditions as fleeting as trouble concentrating on tasks at-hand or as permanent as Major Depressive Disorder.
 
Another hormone that cortisol disrupts in melatonin production [20]. Due to our circadian rhythm, our body has figured out when the sun sets and rises, as well as when we need to get up for work. Like clockwork, your body should adjust to the changes in the day without any notice from you. On cue, you should get tired around two hours prior to bedtime and start to stir awake moments before your alarm goes off.
 
With too much cortisol in the system, there is no room for melatonin. Therefore, you stay awake all night. Thanks to cortisol, the one time of day where your body can get some work done, it’s up counting sheep with you.
 
During our rest period, the body is not fighting off the germs of others, dealing with the stresses of co-workers, or using energy to function as it does during the day. Most of your hormones are created while you are asleep [21]. Therefore, no sleep? No hormones.
 
The most effective way to fight off cortisol is by generating “reward” neurotransmitters and hormones such as dopamine and serotonin. When your mind receives messages from these hormones, it feels sensations such as calmness or elation. As a result, your adrenal glands don’t get the signal to pump out more cortisol. By having dopamine and serotonin on hand, all the other hormones can be created, restoring balance in the system.
 
Further proving the connection between the gut and brain, research has found that 90% of the serotonin in our system comes from our gut [22]. Therefore, if you have poor gut health, a majority of the serotonin that your body needs to fight off mental illness is destroyed before hitting the bloodstream.

 

Weight Issues Associated with Gut Health

 
It doesn’t come as a shock to anyone that your weight is impacted by the health of your gut. Isn’t that where your food ends up? It’s also the first place where adipose (fat) tissue is stored. So, if you are experiencing weight gain, most people tend to see it right where your digestive area lies. The gut!
 
Our body can’t break down a good portion of foods that are in the average person’s everyday life. We’re talking about:
 
• Pasteurized Dairy
• Processed Foods
• Smoked Meats
• Refined Sugars
• Artificial Food Colorings
• GMOs
• Processed Wheat
• Pesticides
 
At this point, if you’re not growing your food on your own, in a greenhouse, with well water, your body is under attack by something you’re consuming! For those who tend to lean toward the modern conveniences of fast food and deli lunches, the problems will most likely rear their heads a bit sooner than those who make conscious decisions.
 
The first step to fighting off these build-ups is to break them down. Healthy bacteria don’t know how to feast on these fake foods. Harmful bacteria do. Therefore, your junk food is actually determinantal bacteria’s Thanksgiving feast [23].  
 
You need to one, cut back on the bad foods and implement healthier foods. Whole foods that come from the earth contain chemical compounds that compute with the bacteria we entered this world with. These foods are known as prebiotics. You need to go back to basics and create an environment not suitable for harmful bacteria by eating prebiotic-rich foods.
 
From there, using probiotic supplements can help burrow more healthy microbes into your system. These probiotics feast on prebiotic-rich foods you consume. In turn, probiotic bacteria grow stronger, changing the acidic levels of your microbiome and altering your gut health. As a result, your gut motility will improve [24]. This will help create the bile necessary to excrete out the excess toxins causing your weight issues.
 
On top of that, beneficial bacteria has been scientifically proven to “increase levels of the protein ANGPTL4 [25].” This is a lipid that regulates how triglycerides are stored in adipose tissues. Therefore, it stores these sources of energy more efficiently so that they are burned at a faster, more natural rate. Otherwise, the fat is free to store itself anywhere in the gut, making these energy sources less readily available…and harder to burn.
 
Speaking of burning, gut bacteria also help burn your fat tissue more efficiently. Probiotic bacterias facilitate a process known as thermogenesis. This is when your body draws on adipose tissues and convert their nutrients into energy. When adipose tissue is with other white tissue, it tends to stick together, making it harder to excrete energy from the source. Harmful bacteria help keep that adipose tissue right along the gut lining. We interpret this bloat as excess weight.
 
Studies have shown that probiotics excite electrons around the gut lining. This causes the white tissue to have a chemical reaction which turns it into a brown hue. Affectionally known as fat-browning, when white tissues turn beige, it sheds more weight. That’s because this dormant tissue is now being used as a more efficient source of energy [26].
 
Part of the issue with weight gain is the metabolism isn’t working like the well-oiled machine it used to be. To give the metabolism a bit of a hand, probiotics help facilitate the creation of a hormone known as GLP-1. This hormone suppresses feelings of hunger so we don’t feel the need to eat unnecessarily. In a two-for-one deal, the GLP-1 has also exhibited an ability to improve glucose intolerance [27]. That makes this hormone crucial for those suffering from diabetes or are at risk of the condition.
 
On top of superficial consequences, there are also health risks associated with weight gain. For instance, too much weight can lead to the onset of diabetes. Cases of obesity are typically caused by the overconsumption of refined sugars. Refined sugars are known to spike your blood glucose levels. When these practices become habitual, it may lead to cases of Type 2 Diabetes or bouts of diabetic shock.
 
Furthermore, these artificial sugars stay in your system for the long haul. With time, they start to harden and create sticky plaques that disrupt the complex highways that are your arteries. As a result, blood can’t get to sections of the body including the brain, genitals, and heart. When oxygenated blood cells can’t reach these areas, it leaves the body open to a plethora of conditions such as mental health disorders, reproductive abnormalities, and cardiovascular disease.

 

General Health and Gut Health

 
It may be safe to say that general health IS gut health. There are so many over-the-counter remedies to take for every aspect of our lives. We pop caffeine pills to stay awake, sleeping pills to go sleep, and heart meds to keep the ticker ticking. Optimal gut health can go a long way in fighting off the need for all these pricy quick-fixes.
 
For instance, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) attributes 1 in 4 deaths to cardiovascular disease [28]. While many mitigating factors play a role in this alarming statistic, the number one cause of heart disease is atherosclerosis [28]. The name might sound unfamiliar, but you’re very familiar with what it does. Atherosclerosis is when sticky residues from synthetic food additives build up in your arteries and form a plaque. Blood cells can’t go through this wall of muck, eventually closing off blood flow.
 
Research confirms that beneficial bacteria play a role in breaking up the sugary veins. One study on 617 female twins found, “the measure of arterial stiffness was higher in women with lower diversity of healthy bacteria in the gut [29].” Therefore, if your microbiome consists of mainly harmful bacteria, the chances of atherosclerosis significantly increase.
 
Moving on from the top cause of death, let’s look at our number one addiction…coffee! Sure, the first cup is necessary, but is cup number five at 3:00 PM a bit overboard? Studies find that “up to 10% of an individual’s daily energy needs can be derived from the byproducts of bacterial fermentation [30].”
 
Instead of coffee, opt for healthy sugars and indigestible fibers that your beneficial bacteria crave. This is called prebiotics. By feeding probiotic bacteria prebiotic-rich food, you can naturally create energy. Byproducts your bacteria creates from feasting is that jolt of alertness you crave from a cup of joe. Therefore, having an abundance of beneficial bacteria feasting on indigestible prebiotic-rich fibers will naturally boost productivity levels. You can achieve this without the nasty jitters that are synonymous with a coffee comedown!
 
Have a microbiome rich with probiotics also has a positive impact on your fat tissues. Beneficial bacteria stimulate the adipose cells in your gut lining. As a result, the white tissues turn into a beige hue [31]. Beige tissue is easier for your body to absorb nutrients from. Therefore, the fat burns off and is used to give you an energy boost!
 
Lastly, beneficial bacteria is the key to getting the most out of your nutrition. What’s the sense of taking a supplement or multivitamin if it’s going to burn off in dangerous stomach acids full of harmful bacteria? Having probiotics in your system naturally increases the bioavailability of your nutrients. This bacteria works with your system to ensure that the most is made out of the nutrition you feed it. The efficacy of delegating where the nutrients go is much smoother and your body as a whole absorbs more of the benefits!

 

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Resources

 
[1] Caitriona G.M. & Cotter, P.D. (2013). Role of the gut microbiota in health and chronic gastrointestinal disease: understanding a hidden metabolic organ, Therap Adv Gastroenterol, 295–308.
 
[2] Soto, A., Martín, V., Jiménez, E., Mader, I., Rodríguez, J.M., & Fernández, L. (2014). Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria in Human Breast Milk: Influence of Antibiotherapy and Other Host and Clinical Factors, J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr., 59(1), 78–88.
 
[3] Hunter, P. (2012). The inflammation theory of disease, EMBO Rep., 13(11), 968-970.
 
[4] Buffington, S.A., Di Prisco,G.V., Auchtung, T.A., Ajami, N.J., Petrosino, J.F., & Costa-Mattioli, M. (2016). Microbial reconstitution reverses maternal diet-induced social and synaptic deficits in offspring, Cell, 165 7). 1762-1775.
 
[5] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017). Antibiotic Use in the United States, 2017: Progress and Opportunities. Atlanta, GA. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, &
Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion.
 
[6] Schroeder, M.O. (2017 Dec. 15). Getting Your Probiotic Fix When Taking Antibiotics. Retrieved from: https://health.usnews.com.
 
[7] Campos, M. (2017, Sept. 22). Leaky gut: What is it, and what does it mean for you?. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu.
 
[8] Ghoshal, U.C, Shukla, R., & Ghoshal, U. (2017) Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Bridge between Functional Organic Dichotomy, Gut Liver 11(2), 196-208.
 
[9] Kleter, G.A., Peijnenburg, A.C.M., & Aarts, H.J.M. (2005). Health Considerations Regarding Horizontal Transfer of Microbial Transgenes Present in Genetically Modified Crops, J Biomed Biotechnol 2005(4), 326–352.
 
[10] Biesiekierski, J.R., & Iven, J. (2015). Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity: piecing the puzzle together, United European Gastroenterol J. 3(2), 160–165.
 
[11] de Oliveira, G.L.V., Leite, A.Z., Higuchi, B.S., Gonzaga, M.I., Mariano, V.S. (2017). Intestinal dysbiosis and probiotic applications in autoimmune diseases, Immunology, 152(1), 1-12.
 
[12] Dennett, K. (2017 Nov. 29). Fight off colds and flu by keeping your gut healthy. Retrieved from: https://www.seattletimes.com.
 
[13] McGill University. “Secret to longevity may lie in the microbiome and the gut: Experiments in fruit flies show increased lifespan thanks to a combination of probiotics and an herbal supplement.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 May 2018.
 
[14] American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (2014). Allergy Facts. Arlington Heights, IL. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
 
[15] Zajac, A. E., Adams, A. S. Turner, J.H. (2014). A systematic review and meta-analysis of probiotics for the treatment of allergic rhinitis, International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology, 5(6), 524-532.
 
[16] Bonaz, B., Bazin, T., &  Pellissier, S. (2018). The Vagus Nerve at the Interface of the Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis, Front Neurosci., 2018(12), 49.
 
[17] Sladek, M.R., Doane, L.D., Luecken, L.J. & Nancy Eisenberg (2016). Perceived stress, coping, and cortisol reactivity in daily life: A study of adolescents during the first year of college, Biol Psychol, 117, 8-15.
 
[18] Ranabir, S., & Reetu, K. (2011). Stress and Hormones, Indian J Endocrinol Metab., 15(1), 18-22.
 
[19] Sirota, I., Zarek, S.M., & Segars, J.H. (2014). Potential Influence of the Microbiome on Infertility and Assisted Reproductive Technology, Semin Reprod Med, 32(1), 35-42.
 
[20] Zamanian, Z., Dehghani,M., & Hassan, H. (2013). Outline of Changes in Cortisol and Melatonin Circadian Rhythms in the Security Guards of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Int J Prev Med, 4(7), 825-830.
 
[21] Leproult, R., & Van Cauter, E. (2010). Role of Sleep and Sleep Loss in Hormonal Release and Metabolism, Endocr Dev, 2010(17), 11-21.
 
[22] California Institute of Technology. (2015 Apr. 9). Microbes Help Produce Serotonin in Gut. Retrieved from:http://www.caltech.edu.
 
[23] Reeser, D. (2013 Apr. 10). Natural versus Synthetic Chemical Is a Gray matter. Revrieved from: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com.
 
[24] Choi, C.W., & Chang, S.K. (2015). Alteration of Gut Microbiota and Efficacy of Probiotics in Functional Constipation, J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 21(1), 4–7.
 
[25] Aronsson, L., Huang, Y., Parini, P., Korach-André, M., Håkansson, J., Gustafsson, J.Å., Pettersson, S., Arulampalam, V., & Rafter, J. (2010). Decreased fat storage by Lactobacillus paracasei is associated with increased levels of angiopoietin-like 4 protein (ANGPTL4)., PLoS One, 5(9).
 
[26] Vargas-Castillo, A., Fuentes-Romero, R., Rodriguez-Lopez, L.A., Torres, N., & Tovar, A.R. (2017) Understanding the Biology of Thermogenic Fat: Is Browning A New Approach to the Treatment of Obesity?, Arch Med Res., 48(5), 401-413.
 
[27] Caddy, G.R., Ardill, J.E., Fillmore, D., Caldwell, C.M., McKibben, B.M., Gardiner, K.R., Watson, P.R. (2006). Plasma concentrations of glucagon-like peptide-2 in adult patients with treated and untreated coeliac disease., Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol., 18(2), 195-202.
 
[28] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2017 Nov. 28). Heart Disease Facts. Atlanta, GA. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.
 
[29] Herrington, W., Lacey, B., Sherliker, P., Armitage,J.,  Lewington, S. (2016) Epidemiology of Atherosclerosis and the Potential to Reduce the Global Burden of Atherothrombotic Disease, Circ Res., 118(4), 535-546.
 
[30] University of Nottingham. (2018 May 10). New link between gut microbiome and artery hardening discovered, The European Heart Journal. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180510203730.htm.
 
[31] Ciorba, M.A. (2012). A Gastroenterologist’s Guide to Probiotics, Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol, 10(9), 960-968.
 

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Gut Health 101: Microbiome, Probiotics & How to Fix an Unhealthy Gut

“All disease begins in the gut,” proclaimed the “Father of Medicine” Hippocrates centuries ago. Today’s science increasingly confirms Father’s hunch about health issues. Our gut bacteria play a significant role in our overall health. They influence critical human functions, including our mental health, immune system, digestive functions, skin health, and weight [1]. The key to a healthy gut is maintaining a delicate balance of good bacteria and bad. Gut Health 101 covers everything you need to know about gut health, probiotics, and getting rid of harmful bacteria that may be causing you symptoms. 

 

Why Gut Health Is Important

 
In Gut Health 101, we are going to break down all the complexities that make up up the microbiome. We’ll discuss probiotics, health-related conditions associated with poor gut health, and ways to fix your gut health naturally.
 
Most of us are born with a clean slate. We develop from a zygote into a fetus into a kicking and screaming little baby all within the safe environment of a mother’s womb.
 
This environment nurtures the development of the gut microbiome. Once we enter the world, we are greeted by a plethora of different germs that we’ve never encountered before. 
 
Some of these foreign bodies will cause us to get sick but, ultimately, boost our immune system. In other instances, these invaders can cause chronic inflammation that may result in a number of different conditions and diseases. 

 

What Leads to Poor Gut Health?

 
The biggest takeaway of Gut Health 101? Whatever the problem is, chronic inflammation started it!
 
Foreign bodies inside our system are known to trigger immune responses. When the responses become reoccurring and constant, inflammation can become chronic.

 

Pathogens enter our system in many ways, including:
• Eating Foods Contaminated with Pesticides or Bad Bacteria
• Continuously Poor Food Choices like Sugar and Trans Fat
• Eating Foods That Trigger Food Allergies, Celiac Disease, etc.
• Nutrient Deficiency Caused By Poor Diet or Illness
• Toxins Re-Entering Our Bloodstream From Our Waste
• Wearing Cosmetics Made with Synthetic Ingredients
• Long-Term Use of Medications
• Breathing in Toxic Chemicals and Heavy Metals
Underlying Stress like Bills, Work, Relationships
• Catching an Illness From Another Person
 
There are many ways to enter the body, but there is one way out. As pathogens enter the system, gravity takes over. These pathogens enter from pores, your mouth, or the respiratory tract. Inevitably, they drop down into the gut, where they can either get flushed out or eventually ignite inflammation.

 

Chronic Inflammation and an Unhealthy Gut

 
Just as all disease begins in the gut, inflammation is the root of all disease. All germs, viruses, or food that comes into the body ends up entering the digestive tract. Our body is either trying to get all the nutrients out of this potential energy source or attempting to get it out of the system. 
 
Our immune system has a “better safe than sorry” approach. Its innate immune function is to cause inflammation. The innate immune system rids the body of the potential issue, and then curtails the inflammation when the threat goes away [2]. 
 
Unfortunately, threats become more common as we age. The once-booming metabolism we used to enjoy starts to slow down. Eventually, poor dietary choices, inflammatory foods, and other toxins begin to have a cumulative effect on the system. 

 

Chronic Diseases Associated with Chronic Inflammation 

 
The over-arching lesson Gut Health 101 is that leaving your gut unhealthy is a precursor for many illnesses. Over time, our digestive issues may begin to worsen. They’ll start to coincide with other symptoms of an unhealthy gut. 
 
Inevitably, you may develop issues pertaining to:
• Immune System (Allergies, Food Intolerances, Colds, Flu)
• Leaky Gut Syndrome
• Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)/Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
• Other Digestive Issues (Inflammatory Bowel Disease [IBD], Heartburn, Bloating, Constipation)
• Weight Gain
• Skin Conditions (Acne, Rosacea, Psoriasis)
• Autoimmune Diseases
• Mental Health (Depression, Anxiety, Mood Swings)
• Poor Sleep
 
The reason for these issues is that your immune system becomes overworked by chronic inflammation. That leaves your body more susceptible to pathogenic overgrowth. Plus, chronic inflammation starts to destroy healthy gut bacteria. This battle for survival all takes place in an internal community known as the microbiome.

 

What Is The Gut Microbiome?

 
Your stomach is home to trillions of microscopic living beings known as microbes. There are thousands of different microbes identified by science and probably will be more discovered for centuries to come [3]. 
 

gut health 101 common types of gut microbiota
 
However, the most common types of gut microbiota are:
• Yeast
• Fungi
• Bacteria
• Archaea
• Protists
 
Of the bunch, gut bacteria are the most abundant and studied. Science has confirmed that there are hundreds of bacteria strains. Each plays a specific role in the internal ecosystem that is the gut microbiome. 

 

Common Gut Flora in the Microbiome

 

gut health 101 common gut flora
 
The dominant bacteria phylums typically found in the body fall within the following groups:
• Firmicutes
• Bacteroidetes
• Actinobacteria
• Proteobacteria
 
Around 90% generally fall specifically within the Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes phyla.
 
All of these commensal bacteria work together for optimal health of its host — you! They all work in unison, applying the crafts that are their specialties. 

 

The Importance of Gut Bacteria Diversity 

 
It seems like every bacteria has a role. Even Staphylococcus aureus, the bacteria strain behind the potentially life-threatening staph infection, can help keep other opportunistic Staphylococcus strains from becoming unruly [4]. Unfortunately, if probiotic bacteria can’t check Staphylococcus aureus, it can become overgrown and result in deadly consequences. 
 
The most beneficial gut bacteria will create metabolites that help prevent other bacteria from overgrowing. For instance, many bacteria strains produce short-chain fatty acids [5]. These serve as electrical currency for our gut cells to rejuvenate, divide, and strengthen the intestinal barrier. In particular, probiotics create the short chain fatty acid, butyrate, which is vital in repairing the gut lining and promoting probiotic bacteria growth. 
 
When everything is going smoothly in the microbiome, then you shouldn’t notice any signs of an unhealthy gut. Things go smoothest when gut flora communities remain in balance. As we age and our cumulative life choices start catching up to us, it might begin to cause a deficit in beneficial bacteria opening up room for harmful bacteria to overtake the system. 
 
As harmful bacteria spread, your immune response ignites inflammation. Unfortunately, most harmful bacteria species thrive in these sorts of environments. It’s your probiotic bacteria that suffer.
 
In the end, this microbial imbalance kickstarts a chain of health-related events that can impede your quality of life. That’s why it’s important to boost your immune system with probiotics and a healthy gut diet plan. 

 

What Are The Symptoms of Poor Gut Health?

 

There is strong evidence that our gut bacteria pretty much run the ship. Different types of live bacteria play unique roles in countless physiological processes. When the diversity of bacterial cells becomes compromised, key aspects of our overall wellness can be jeopardized, too. Here are some of the most vital ways gut issues can impede our day-to-day life. 

 

Weak Immune System 

 
Our gut bacteria and immune cells are besties. They go back to the womb. Live bacteria live within the vaginal microbiome inside of our mother’s amniotic sac and placenta.
 
These beings helped shape our first immune cells [6]. As we formed, what would become our skin traps in our immune cells and gut bacteria to create our gut microbiome. 
 
Over 80% of immune system cells reside in the gut [7]. That’s because everything we ingest ends up there. Our innate immune system kicks in and creates inflammation to eliminate threats and then turns off the fire hose when the danger is a goner. 
 
Unfortunately, our innate immune system gets a bit overworked. We’re always feeding our gut with processed foods, breathing in polluted indoor air, and smearing on gut biome-disruptive cosmetics. 
 
In simple terms, our immune cells are always on duty, working on the messes we make! These actions undoubtedly compromise our immune health. Eventually, they’re going to miss a significant threat, like an opportunistic gut bacteria.
 
Additionally, an overworked innate immune system causes chronic inflammation. Inevitably, that will start to destroy epithelial cells that make up the gut lining.
 
Subsequently, chronic inflammation starts to destroy healthy bacteria. As we’re about to discuss, all of this is how disease starts. That’s why so many scientific journals point to gut health as a key promoter of autoimmune diseases.

 

Leaky Gut Syndrome

 

According to one Harvard paper, “we all have some degree of leaky gut [8].” That’s due to the design of our gut lining. There are porous holes along the barrier that allows for ventilation in the intestines. More importantly, it will enable nutrients from our food to permeate into our bloodstream. 
 
Our gastrointestinal tract starts the food breakdown process as soon as we smell our food [9]. We then chew the food so we can swallow it and allow our stomach acids, digestive enzymes, and organs to break these food sources down to the simplest particles. 
 
These compounds enter the small intestine, where they get sorted out as nutrients or waste. Waste enters the large intestine, where water is siphoned out, and toxins are expelled from our backside. Meanwhile, the small intestine allows nutrients from our foods to be distributed throughout the entire body.
 
The small intestine plays a vital role in nutrient absorption. It relies on a barricade of 40 different proteins known as tight junctions [10]. Tight junctions protect the epithelial cells that line our gut. 
 
However, tight junctions are always under attack from chronic inflammation happening on the other side of the gut barrier. Eventually, their tightly-wound structure starts to break down. They become loose, which allows for gut bacteria and other toxins in your intestines to enter the bloodstream. 
 
Also, certain foods can trigger tight junctions to move. For instance, gluten contains a protein known as zonulin. Zonulin can activate the tight junctions to open up [11]. Therefore, toxins, bacteria, and food particles in your intestines can leak into your bloodstream. This preemptive opening may disrupt the appropriate absorption of food nutrients and trigger inflammation. 
 
Leaky gut develops over time. It can become a precursor to many life-threatening illnesses. It’s vital to repair the gut barrier by removing inflammatory foods, eating probiotic foods, antiviral foods, and foods rich in collagen, like bone broth.

 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)/Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

 
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) are two common GI conditions that people may experience simultaneously. Many of the symptoms of IBS and SIBO overlap one another. However, fixing them are two completely different processes. 
 
IBS is a condition that impacts the large intestine. Chronic inflammation messes up metabolic functions that affect muscle contraction. So, bathroom frequency can be thrown off. 
 
Most common signs of IBS are abdominal pain, bloating, and frequent trips to the bathroom. Here, they may experience either diarrhea or constipation. 
 
People with SIBO experience many of these symptoms. However, the cause isn’t muscle contractions. It’s due to a bacterial overgrowth from the small intestine. 
 
When you have SIBO, your gut bacteria are severely impacted. You must take a particular test to diagnose SIBO. From there, you have to eliminate potential foods that trigger inflammation, kill the bacteria with either antibiotics or a high-quality supplement recommendation from a naturopath. You must then reinoculate your gut with a probiotic supplement and feed that bacteria a healthy dietary fiber diet. 

 

Other Digestive Issues

 
Many chronic illnesses can be caused by poor gut health. A few of the more common ones include Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). IBD is actually a blanket term to describe two digestive illnesses — Ulcerative Colitis (UC) and Crohn’s Disease.
 
UC is caused by inflammation of the cells within the large intestine [11]. In addition to bloody stools and intense abdominal pain, those with UC are at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. 
 
Crohn’s Disease is an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract [12]. That means it can spark anywhere from the esophagus to the anus. Treating these conditions will require a doctor’s care. 
 
Another common GI condition associated with poor gut health is acid reflux/GERD. When you experience GERD, food particles can backtrack up your esophagus. You can experience severe heartburn and may cause long-term damage to your throat and gut lining. 

 

Weight Gain

 
It’s not shocking that poor gut health can cause weight gain. After all, many of the reasons for an unhealthy gut are dietary choices. However, our gut bacteria play a role in this, too. 
 
We rely on our gut bacteria to help with food breakdown. So, if less probiotic bacteria are working, there’s less productivity going on in the GI tract. Many of these foods can sit around the belly. Eventually, this can cause long-term inflammation. Scientific evidence shows that there is a strong connection between obesity and a lack of gut diversity [13].
 
Also, gut bacteria can manipulate us. When pathogenic bacteria infest us, we’ll start to crave sugars and other food additives actively. These unhealthy foods make it easier for them to survive and for beneficial bacteria to die. 
 
The best way to lose weight is to change your diet habits. You might want to consider intermittent fasting for gut health a few times a week. Also, increase your physical activity. Cut down on foods rich in animal fats and opt for leaner proteins, like fish, legumes, and whole grains. 

 

Skin Issues

 
If you’re inflamed on the inside, it’s going to show on the outside. Your body becomes a pressure cooker, and it’s burning off healthy skin cells. In turn, these dead or dying cells clog up the skin barrier. This backup will manifest as itchy, red, or blotchy skin. 
 
An unhealthy gut, leaky gut, has been strongly tied to many skin conditions, including:
• Rosacea
• Psoriasis
• Eczema
• Acne
• Allergic Reactions
• Arthritis
 
Furthermore, our skin also protects our gut biome from infestations. There are many viruses, fungi, and opportunistic bacteria on other people and surfaces trying to find a new home in your stomach. So, your body relies on your own skin bacteria as the first line of defense.
 
In fact, our skin has its own microbiome. This microbiome communicates with cells on the inside via the gut-skin axis to ensure its host’s overall health. Unfortunately, we destroy these healthy bacteria with toxic beauty ingredients. The average woman puts 515 synthetic chemicals on her face every day [15]. So, our skin microbiome is always on high alert!

 

Mental Health Problems

 
Our gut is the second brain…or is it? The gut-brain connection is more than a metaphorical statement or declaration of being hangry. These two are joined at the hip…or at least by a series of nerves. 
 
At the bottom of the brainstem is our vagus nerve. This barometer-of-sorts relies on information from the gut up through the central nervous system [16]. It can influence and collect information from every essential organ along the way!
 
When harmful bacteria overtake our gut, your vagus nerve lets the brain know. In turn, we can develop many symptoms of neurological disorders, including depression, anxiety, and hyperactivity. 
 
Like most things, the key to regulating the gut-brain axis is balance. A diverse gut is essential for mental health. Actually, one meta-analysis on gut diversity and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) found that children diagnosed with ASD had lower levels of Veillonellaceae, Coprococcus, and Prevotella bacterial cells [17].
 
Even more notably, these children also lacked bacterial species, Bifidobacterium and Blautia. These two are essential for making tryptophan, the precursor to our joy molecule, serotonin. In fact, up to 90% of our serotonin neurotransmitters are derived from the gut [18]. 
 
Furthermore, a recent study found that a few microbial species, particularly Bacteroides, produce the neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) [19]. GABA is known as our inhibitory neurotransmitter. It helps calm our racing thoughts, which lowers our cortisol levels. 
 
Cortisol is one of our stress hormones. When we endure stress on a daily basis, it can cause chronic inflammation. As we’ve discussed, chronic inflammation is the root of all life-threatening conditions that compromise human health.

 

How to Improve Your Gut Health Naturally

 
how to fix your gut health 101
 
You didn’t ruin your gut overnight. In fact, many unexpected things ruined your gut health. So, fixing it isn’t going to happen in a day, either. Taking care of your gut is an ever-evolving process. Make little changes that ease common digestive symptoms and then slowly chip away at the bigger picture items. Here’s how!

 

Get Your Gut Tested

 
The first step to fixing your gut health is to know what you’re working with. A surgeon wouldn’t operate without an x-ray. You can’t reintroduce good gut bacteria into your body until you know the bad ones you’re dealing with.
 
We send you everything you need to take a gut test safely in your own bathroom. Just bring the kit in when you do #2. Wipe like normal with toilet paper. Then use one of the sterile swabs to collect a small sample from the toilet paper. 
 
Dip the swab into the vial with a preservative liquid that’s provided. After 20-30 seconds, the liquid will change colors, meaning your DNA is secure. Seal the bottle and dispose of the swab like you would a newborn’s diaper. 
 
Mail your vial to us in the pre-addressed envelope we provide. In just a few weeks, we will give you in-depth insights into your gut health. Most importantly, we tell you which gut bacteria are overstaying their welcome. Based on that info, we can give you a bunch of actionable plans to repair your gut. 
 
For one, we can tell you which foods are causing you digestive issues. Different microbes have a penchant for different foods. So, if you have a surplus of one type of bacteria, there’s a high likelihood that specific foods caused that overgrowth.
 
Furthermore, our gut health program offers you hundreds of recipes that can help you grow the bacteria you need. As we will discuss later, specific foods will give beneficial bacteria the energy necessary to reclaim your gut health.

 

Order A Custom Probiotic Supplement

 
The goal of gut health is to create a diverse microbiome. Probiotics are one of the best microbiome supplements.
 
However, you don’t want to take a generic probiotic supplement because it might be laden with gut bacteria that you already have plenty of. With our gut health test, we can determine which stomach bacteria your gut biome truly needs. 
 
Our custom probiotic supplement is a delivery service. You can easily manage your subscription in our database to change your delivery date or hold your service. You can also get retested in a few months and compare your recommendations and results!

 

Cut Out Inflammatory Foods

 
While you wait for your custom probiotic supplement to come in the mail, there are plenty of actionable things you can do in the meantime. For one, you should cut many of the “usual” suspects.”
 
From there, try alternating some your diet choices. Opt for a different meal plan, like going keto or paleo vegan. In the meantime, try eliminating these foods.

 

Gluten

 
Gluten is the top inflammatory food in the world. It’s in everything from baked goods to cosmetics. While many think that gluten is an issue for people solely with Celiac Disease, that is not the case. Celiac Disease only accounts for about 1% of the population. 
 
Many of us are sensitive to products that commonly contain gluten, such as bread. Many whole grains grown in Western agriculture are made with genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). Research indicates that GMOs might have the ability to alter DNA [20]. They also change microbial communities in soil [21]. So, what’s to say GMOs won’t do the same to our microbes?
 
Also, we mentioned earlier, the protein zonulin increased by consumption of gluten products, relaxes our tight junctions. Therefore, gluten increases intestinal permeability for people who don’t even have severe gluten sensitivity. 

 

Lactose/Dairy

 
Approximately 65% of us lose the ability to digest lactose after infancy properly. [22] Therefore, many of us are lactose intolerant and are probably unaware of it. 
 
Symptoms of lactose intolerance include:
• Diarrhea
• Nausea
• Abdominal Pain
• Cramping
• Bloating
• Constipation
 
Many of these lactose intolerance symptoms also mirror the common signs of an unhealthy gut. We’re the only mammals to drink milk past infancy. Plus, we’re the only mammals to drink another mammal’s milk. These might be clear indicators that we should limit our dairy intake. 
 
Not to mention, many dairy cows are preemptively treated with antibiotics. That’s because female calves are milked mechanically. These machines can cause the udders to rupture and get infected by bacteria. So, they’re given antibiotics to stop this inevitable occurrence. Unfortunately, we drink that milk and those antibiotics [23]. 
 
The purpose of antibiotics is to wipe out bacteria — good and bad. So, consuming antibiotic-rich milk can play a major role in depleting your probiotic bacteria levels. 
 
In addition, calves are always kept pregnant so they continue to produce milk. For optimal fertility, dairy cows are treated with estrogen. This might also be why there’s a strong correlation between poor gut health and infertility.

 

Soy

 
Soy is a very protein-heavy plant-based protein. Unfortunately, it’s a common food allergen. For those with a soy allergy, their immune system sees its proteins as a potential threat. Therefore, it will cause inflammation. 
 
There are many soy products, including some you might not be aware of, like:
• Edamame
• Tofu
• Tempeh
• Soy Sauce
• Soy Milk
• Miso
 
It is not uncommon for people with a soy allergy to also have an allergy to legumes. So, you might want to stay away from chickpeas, peanuts, and peas.

 

Lectins

 
Speaking of legumes, some people are sensitive to plant-based compounds known as lectins. Lectins are deemed “anti-nutrients [24].” They latch on the vitamins and minerals our bodies rely on for energy. In turn, we are left bloated and with depleted energy levels.
 
Some of the foods that contain lectins include:
  • • Dairy (Casein in Cheese, Milk, Yogurt)
  • • Legumes (Black Beans, Chickpeas, Lentils, Peanuts, Soybeans)
  • • Nightshades (Eggplants, Goji Berries, Peppers, Potatoes, Squash, Tomatoes)
  • • Whole Grains (Baked Goods, Bread, Corn, Crackers)
 
Unfortunately, lectins are in some of the most nutritious whole foods. Therefore, it can make following a vegan diet difficult. However, it is possible to eat a lectin-free vegan diet.

 

Start Eating Prebiotic-Rich Foods

 
After you eliminate foods that are causing digestive issues, you need to replenish the good gut bacteria that you have. The best way to do this is to feed them dietary fiber. 
 
Our gastrointestinal tract can’t break down all dietary fibers. So, our probiotic bacteria eat these carbohydrates for energy. These food sources are known as prebiotics. Feeding stomach bacteria prebiotics allows these microbes to also create short-chain fatty acids that help repair the gut lining, such as butyrate.
 
Prebiotic-rich foods include:
Bananas
• Jerusalem Artichokes
• Onions
• Garlic
• Leeks
• Apples
• Chicory Root/Inulin
• Barley
• Kefir
 
When eating fiber, start off slow. Going overboard can cause serious cramping. Also, some people have allergies to members of the allium family (onions, garlic, scallions). If you notice issues when you consume these prebiotics, cut back on your intake.
 
The Thryve Gut Health Program has hundreds of prebiotic-rich recipes that are tailored to feed bacteria we’re attempting to grow in your gut. We don’t leave you alone in the kitchen to fend for yourself. Our database provides you with countless recipes to tailor weeks worth of healthy gut meal plans.

 

Eat Probiotic Foods

 
As your first probiotic supplement are on their way to you, you can get ahead of the game by eating probiotic foods. Many foods have live bacteria in them that can help get your digestive juices flowing. Even better, they’re derived from whole foods that are rich in antioxidants that help repair your gut.
 
Some of the best sources of probiotic foods include:
• Pickles
• Kraut
Kimchi
• Yogurt
• Kombucha
• Tempeh
• Natto
• Miso
 
Fermentation is an excellent way to preserve whole foods and to create gut-healthy snacks. Creating an airtight environment allows bacteria to feast on carbohydrates within the fibers of sealed fruits and vegetables. In turn, these bacteria enrich the brine and foods with digestive enzymes, amino acids, and other essential vitamins. 
 
Also, try incorporating more anti-inflammatory foods into your diet. For instance, try adding star anise for its antiviral benefits. Then, include some spirulina, which can provide your body with an array of nutrients necessary to boost your healthy gut bacteria.

 

Exercise

 
All of the dieting in the world will mean nothing if you don’t exercise. Exercise will not only burn fat off your waistline; it helps shake up your probiotic bacteria.
 
Movement causes chemical reactions to take place in the body. That can cause clusters of harmful bacteria to become displaced…and hopefully shown the door.
 
Also, exercise can cause beneficial gut bacteria to interact. In turn, they might create more beneficial short-chain fatty acids or microbes. That’s why research suggests that exercise improves stomach bacteria diversity. 

 

Meditate 

 
Stress is a serious health risk. Unfortunately, many of us take it as a way of life. It doesn’t need to be that way. Chronic stress destroys us mentally and physiologically. 
 
One of the cheapest ways to combat stress is to meditate. All you need is yourself and a quiet room. Stay away from the urge to check your email. After all, too much screen time is compromising your mental and gut health!
 
Pay attention to your breath, repeating a mantra that you feel comfortable saying. Otherwise, mentally think of the words “inhale” and “exhale.” This kind of focus will help stop your wandering thoughts.
 
Just start with five minutes. Work your way up. If your mind wanders, just reel it back to your mantra. Try relaxing your racing mind by using essential oils. In time, five minutes will fly by. Also, the stress will melt away!

 

Talk to Doctor About Alternatives to Medications

 
According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 47 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions are written each year [25]. We’re setting our bodies (and the immune systems of others) up for antibiotic resistance!
 
First and foremost, lower your risk of needing medications by improving your health. Try looking up all-natural ways for boosting your overall wellness.
 
For instance, you might find drinks to improve your prostate, recipes to support your immune system, or try incorporating more probiotic foods into your diet. All of these hacks can be preventive measures for worsening ailments.
 
Make changes to your diet and take all-natural supplements. In fact, research suggests that probiotics might reduce the need for antibiotics [26]. 
 
Also, many medications have long-term side effects that can impact your overall health. Try to get to the root cause of your problems. Try a Thryve Gut Health Test and share your results with your physician. Discuss custom probiotic treatments for your symptoms. 

 

How to Fix My Gut Health

 
Fixing your gut health will take time. However, it’s time well invested. Improving conditions in your gut biome play a crucial role in your overall health. Stop playing guessing games with your health and get solid answers. 
 
Order a Thryve Gut Health Test and get a custom probiotic recommendation. Based on these results, stay away from food that has a high probability of causing an immune response. Then, eat a bunch of prebiotic-rich foods that Thryve suggests will feed your probiotic bacteria.
 
Combine these actions with healthier lifestyle changes. Talk to your doctor about alternatives to medicines. Increase your physical activity. Also, make sure to carve out some self-care time. All of these go great lengths in improving your quality of life.

 

Click Here To View Resources

Resources

 
[1] Huang, T. T., Lai, J. B., Du, Y. L., Xu, Y., Ruan, L. M., & Hu, S. H. (2019). Current Understanding of Gut Microbiota in Mood Disorders: An Update of Human Studies. Frontiers in genetics, 10, 98. https://doi.org/10.3389/fgene.2019.00098.
 
[2] Xiao T. S. (2017). Innate immunity and inflammation. Cellular & molecular immunology, 14(1), 1–3. https://doi.org/10.1038/cmi.2016.45.
 
[3] King, Charles H., et al. “Baseline Human Gut Microbiota Profile in Healthy People and Standard Reporting Template.” PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, 11 Sept. 2019, journals.plos.org/plosone/article/metrics?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0206484.
 
[4] Cogen, A. L., Nizet, V., & Gallo, R. L. (2008). Skin microbiota: a source of disease or defence?. The British journal of dermatology, 158(3), 442–455. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2133.2008.08437.x.
 
[5] Parada Venegas, Daniela, et al. “Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs)-Mediated Gut Epithelial and Immune Regulation and Its Relevance for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.” Frontiers, Frontiers, 31 Jan. 2019, www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2019.00277/full.
 
[6] Collado, Maria Carmen, et al. “Human Gut Colonisation May Be Initiated in Utero by Distinct Microbial Communities in the Placenta and Amniotic Fluid.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 22 Mar. 2016, www.nature.com/articles/srep23129.
 
[7] Vighi, G., Marcucci, F., Sensi, L., Di Cara, G., & Frati, F. (2008). Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clinical and experimental immunology, 153 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), 3–6. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x.
 
[8] Marcelo Campos, MD. “Leaky Gut: What Is It, and What Does It Mean for You?” Harvard Health Blog, 24 Oct. 2019, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/leaky-gut-what-is-it-and-what-does-it-mean-for-you-2017092212451.
 
[9] “Body Basics.” Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, Oct. 2012, www.rchsd.org/health-articles/digestive-system-2/.
 
[10] Anderson, J. M., & Van Itallie, C. M. (2009). Physiology and function of the tight junction. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology, 1(2), a002584. https://doi.org/10.1101/cshperspect.a002584.
 
[11] Fasano A. (2012). Zonulin, regulation of tight junctions, and autoimmune diseases. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1258(1), 25–33. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-6632.2012.06538.x.
 
[12] “Ulcerative Colitis.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 24 Dec. 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ulcerative-colitis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353331.
 
[13] “Digestive Diseases.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 9 Feb. 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/medical-professionals/digestive-diseases/news/advances-in-the-treatment-of-crohns-disease-and-ulcerative-colitis/mac-20454634.
 
[14] Davis C. D. (2016). The Gut Microbiome and Its Role in Obesity. Nutrition today, 51(4), 167–174. https://doi.org/10.1097/NT.0000000000000167.
 
[15] Organics·Need to Know·March 29, 2017·5 min read. “Women Put On 515 Synthetic Chemicals On Their Bodies Every Day.” Organics, 7 May 2019, www.organics.org/women-put-515-synthetic-chemicals-bodies-every-day/.
 
[16] Breit, S., Kupferberg, A., Rogler, G., & Hasler, G. (2018). Vagus Nerve as Modulator of the Brain-Gut Axis in Psychiatric and Inflammatory Disorders. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 44. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00044.
 
[17] Svoboda, Elizabeth. “Could the Gut Microbiome Be Linked to Autism?” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 29 Jan. 2020, www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00198-y.
 
[18] “Study Shows How Serotonin and a Popular Anti-Depressant Affect the Gut’s Microbiota.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 6 Sept. 2019, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190906092809.htm.
 
[19] Strandwitz, P., Kim, K.H., Terekhova, D. et al. GABA-modulating bacteria of the human gut microbiota. Nat Microbiol 4, 396–403 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41564-018-0307-3.
 
[20] Scott Simonsen, et al. “Demystifying GMOs: New Research Shows Unexpected Changes in Plant DNA.” Singularity Hub, 7 Apr. 2019, singularityhub.com/2019/02/11/demystifying-gmos-new-research-shows-unexpected-changes-in-plant-dna/.
 
[21] “Impact of GM Crops on Soil Health.” ISAAA, 20 Aug. 2020, www.isaaa.org/resources/publications/pocketk/57/default.asp.
 
[22] “Lactose Intolerance – Genetics Home Reference – NIH.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/lactose-intolerance.
 
[23] Sachi, S., Ferdous, J., Sikder, M. H., & Azizul Karim Hussani, S. M. (2019). Antibiotic residues in milk: Past, present, and future. Journal of advanced veterinary and animal research, 6(3), 315–332. https://doi.org/10.5455/javar.2019.f350.
 
[24] Roos N, Sørensen JC, Sørensen H, et al. Screening for anti-nutritional compounds in complementary foods and food aid products for infants and young children. Matern Child Nutr. 2013;9 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):47-71. doi:10.1111/j.1740-8709.2012.00449.x.
 
[25] “Appropriate Antibiotic Use.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 Nov. 2019, www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/index.html.
 
[26] “Probiotic Use May Reduce Antibiotic Prescriptions.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 14 Sept. 2018, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180914084840.htm.



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Gut Circadian Rhythm: How to Restore Your Biological Clock

Our circadian rhythm is our biological clock. It’s an autonomous system dependent on cells that guard vital organs. These cells are dependent on their hosts (us) to maintain a regular schedule. That’s because there are many smaller biological clocks in our bodies that need to sync up. One of these is our gut circadian rhythm. Therefore, our stomach bacteria play a critical role in regulating our system’s biological clock. Let’s learn why.

 

What is Circadian Rhythm?

 
Our circadian rhythm is more than just our sleep cycle. It’s essentially your body’s 24-hour itinerary of biological functions.
 

SCN is at the top, microbes are the person

 
This complex system is affected by many outlying factors. So, it’s best we just start at the top. The easiest way to describe our circadian rhythm is that it’s set up sort of like a pyramid scheme.
 
At the top, we have the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) within the hypothalamus region of the brain [1]. The SCN has over 20,000 neurons. These communicators are in touch with peripheral biological clocks throughout the system [2].
 
Peripheral clocks are present in every cell and tissue in our body. So, the SCN is the regulator of our circadian rhythm.

 

What Controls Our Circadian Rhythm?

 

There are several factors at play that may impact our circadian rhythm. Many of them are parts of our environment. Others are lifestyle choices. Let’s take a look at what may affect our biological clock and gut circadian rhythm.

 

Light

 

Never underestimate the power of the sun

 
Light is the primary regulator of our circadian rhythm [3]. Our body knows that when the sun is out, we must be productive and expend the most energy. It’s also aware that the nighttime is when you go to bed.
 
As sunlight enters the bedroom in wee morning hours, the ultraviolet rays permeate our eyelids and activate our pineal gland. This reaction causes the body to stop producing so much melatonin. When the sun goes down, that charge drops, and melatonin production commences.

 

Sleep Cycles

 

Make maintaining your gut circadian rhythm part of your routine
 

One of the best ways to foster new habits is to do these activities at the same time every day. Our bodies are built to thrive in repetitive sequences. So, when your sleep cycles are thrown off, it messes up the whole shebang.
 
Perhaps the most significant assault on our sleep patterns is the blue LED lights in our smart devices and TV screens. Too much screen time sends false signals to the brain.
 
Your pineal gland records these blue wavelengths as the sun rising, causing you to feel less tired. Inevitably, erratic sleep will throw off your gut circadian rhythm.

 

Temperature

Temp regulates more than just if we stay indoors!
 

Our body temperature fluctuates throughout the day. Your cells have thermoreceptors on them [4]. These are gauges that measure the temperatures outside the body. It figures out the average temperature for the time of the day so our SCN can prepare us for nighttime.
 
When our temperatures get thrown off, so does circadian rhythms. Colder days may make us feel lethargic earlier, while hotter ones might cause a sleepless night. Therefore, exceedingly cold or warm days can disrupt your sleep cycle, hormone production, and stomach bacteria.

 

Food Intake

 
Biological processes need a full 24 hours to get their work done. However, we’re always throwing wrenches into their plans by causing more work for them. The most timely process our body must contend with is the digestion of food.
 
According to the Medical Research Council in Science Daily,
 

“Experiments in cultured cells, and replicated in mice, show that insulin, a hormone released when we eat, adjusts circadian rhythms in many different cells and tissues individually, by stimulating production of a protein called PERIOD, an essential cog within every cell’s circadian clock [5]. “

Medical Research Council

 
If you eat before bed, your body is going to be busy breaking down food particles and absorbing nutrients. It won’t get all the other necessary functions done, such as producing hormones and immune cells.

 

Gut Bacteria

 

gut microbes gut circadian rhythm
Meet your neighbors
 

There’s nothing worse than trying to sleep next to a horrible neighbor. Our body is teeming with trillions of microbes. When most of these stomach bacteria are beneficial, the surrounding cells that report back to the SCN leave good Yelp! reviews.
 
However, pathogenic bacteria can be disruptive. They promote inflammation that destroys healthy cells. Many peripheral clocks in the neighboring area will report back to the system, inevitably shocking our circadian rhythm.

 

What is the Gut Circadian Rhythm?

 

stress gut circadian rhythm
Actual pic of stressed out gut cells at work
 
In our microbiome, all of our cells are working in unison to achieve betterment for the whole.Different cells have their own set of strengths and weaknesses that are determined by where they are in the body. So, each “department” needs 24 hours to accomplish these tasks. Let’s go to another analogy.
 
The SCN is the CEO of the company. It has many key peripheral clocks that are in vital organs and regions, such as our pancreas, liver, and gut. Each of the cells distinct to these areas has its own 24-hour process to undergo.
 
Not meeting their deadline will cause a negative report turned into the SCN. Anyone ever feel the wrath of an unhappy CEO? Not pretty. Let’s take a look at components of the gut circadian rhythm.

 

Metabolism

 
Research with mice suggests that the SCN sets a rhythm with benchmarks that microbes must follow to ensure the 24 hours’ worth of tasks is completed. At specified times, stomach bacteria will induce the expression of histone deacetylase 3 (HDAC3) [6].
 
HDAC3 is an enzyme that acts as a catalyst for the oscillation of gut cells. Activated gut cells cause many metabolic processes, such as nutrient transports to the bloodstream and fat absorption.
 
Even more remarkable is that the microbes only activate HDAC3 in epithelial cells of the small intestine but not the colon. This realization further exemplifies that stomach bacteria know how to manipulate the gut circadian rhythm.

 

Gut Motility

 
Gut motility is the stretching and contracting of muscles in the GI tract.
 

gut circadian rhythm
The GI tract is more than just your gut
 

Your GI tract covers:
• Mouth
• Esophagus (or food tube)
• Stomach
• Small Intestine
• Large Intestine
• Colon/Bowels
 
When you begin eating, the aroma of your food trigger saliva production, kicking off the digestion process. All systems get moving, and your GI tract gets in sync through a process known as peristalsis [7]. That’s just a fancy way to explain a smaller-scale gut circadian rhythm!
 
Harmful stomach bacteria and opportunistic stomach flora destroy tight junctions that regulate our gut barrier and villi that help us absorb nutrients. Therefore, we’re more susceptible to toxins and solid food particles from our intestines that cause GI problems, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

 

Cell Proliferation

 
The average gut cell lives up to five days. So, that means they must divide and boost up other cells adequately during their short lifespan. That means their 24-hour processes have very little room for error.
 
When cell proliferation gets behind, it leaves the body susceptible to pathogenic attack. In turn, this can throw off our gut circadian rhythm, as well as functions throughout the rest of the body.

 

Diet and Gut Circadian Rhythm

 

The toughest obstacle facing our gut circadian rhythm is the food we eat. A Standard American Diet (SAD) is rich in omega-6 fatty acids and nutrient-deficient carbohydrates. Research confirms an influx of these dietary choices can severely alter your gut circadian rhythm.
 

Ultimate Guide to Weight Gut AxisLearn More: Ultimate Guide to Gut-Weight Axis

One study fed a high-fat, high-carb diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and refined sugars to mice [8]. Notably, the gut bacteria changed the production times and yield of metabolites. Without gut bacteria producing useful gut healers like butyrate, our lining gets compromised, as does our gut circadian rhythm.
 
Inevitably, the mice developed:
• Dysfunctional Glucose Homeostasis
• Hypercholesterolemia
• Obesity
 
These disorders are all common for people who follow a typical Western Diet. One of the most prominent, obesity, is heavily linked to insomnia [9]. Insomnia is a clear indicator your circadian rhythm is out of whack.
 
Therefore, having an out-of-sync gut circadian rhythm can mess up all the biological processes going on in the body. Ultimately, this can cause a person to develop a litany of diseases.

 

Intermittent Fasting and Gut Circadian Rhythm

 
We wouldn’t recommend skipping out on meals. This practice can actually throw off your circadian rhythm. It doesn’t know when to expect food if you’re randomly opting out of meals. An effective way to regulate your gut circadian rhythm is through intermittent fasting.
 

intermittent fasting for gut health
Learn about IF Benefits
 

The easiest fast is known as Leangains. Leangains is where you go 16 hours without food.
 
During an eight-hour window, you can eat again.
 
Research shows that these fasts are long enough for your gut circadian rhythm to get back into rhythm [10].
 
Furthermore, intermittent fasting promotes autophagy. This process helps with cell proliferation. If you remember, cell proliferation is one of the functions of good gut circadian rhythm.

 

Regulating Gut Circadian Rhythm with Thryve Inside

 
Our microbes play a significant role in not just our gut circadian rhythm, but the system as a whole. Unfavorable stomach bacteria and sneaky intestinal flora can spur inflammation throughout the body. In turn, many cells won’t be able to meet their 24-hour deadline…or five-day lifespan.
 

thryve gut test
Get your gut health tested

 
The first step in getting your metabolism and sleep cycle back on track is to get your gut bacteria in check. An easy way to accomplish this task is by finding out which stomach bacteria are holding your gut biome hostage. Do this with a Thryve Inside gut test kit.
 
Once we know which stomach bacteria are disputing your gut circadian rhythm, we can recommend probiotic bacteria to help promote the balance back in favor. From there, our Thryve Gut Health Program will offer you recipes and food recommendations to keep that biological clock ticking!

 

Click Here To View Resources

Resources

 

[1] Herzog1, Erik D., et al. “Regulating the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN) Circadian Clockwork: Interplay between Cell-Autonomous and Circuit-Level Mechanisms.” Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology, Cold Spring Harbor Lab, 1 Jan. 1970, cshperspectives.cshlp.org/content/9/1/a027706.full.
 
[2] Richards, J., & Gumz, M. L. (2012). Advances in understanding the peripheral circadian clocks. FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, 26(9), 3602–3613. doi:10.1096/fj.12-203554
 
[3] Mead M. N. (2008). Benefits of sunlight: a bright spot for human health. Environmental health perspectives, 116(4), A160–A167. doi:10.1289/ehp.116-a160
 
[4] Sherburne-Michigan, Morgan. “Even Tiny Temp Changes Affect These ‘Clock Neurons’.” Futurity, 26 Feb. 2018, www.futurity.org/sleep-timing-neurons-temperature-1688092/.
 
[5] “How Eating Feeds into the Body Clock.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 25 Apr. 2019, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190425143607.htm.
 
[6] Kuang, Zheng, et al. “The Intestinal Microbiota Programs Diurnal Rhythms in Host Metabolism through Histone Deacetylase 3.” Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 27 Sept. 2019, science.sciencemag.org/content/365/6460/1428.
 
[7] Sanders, K. M., Koh, S. D., Ro, S., & Ward, S. M. (2012). Regulation of gastrointestinal motility–insights from smooth muscle biology. Nature reviews. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 9(11), 633–645. doi:10.1038/nrgastro.2012.168
 
[8] Leone, Vanessa, and Sean M. Gibbons. “Effects of Diurnal Variation of Gut Microbes and High-Fat Feeding on Host Circadian Clock Function and Metabolism.” Cell Host & Microbe, Cell, Vol. 17(5), 13 May 2005, doi.org/10.1016/j.chom.2015.03.006.
 
[9] Hargens, T. A., Kaleth, A. S., Edwards, E. S., & Butner, K. L. (2013). Association between sleep disorders, obesity, and exercise: a review. Nature and science of sleep, 5, 27–35. doi:10.2147/NSS.S34838
 
[10] Parkar, S. G., Kalsbeek, A., & Cheeseman, J. F. (2019). Potential Role for the Gut Microbiota in Modulating Host Circadian Rhythms and Metabolic Health. Microorganisms, 7(2), 41. doi:10.3390/microorganisms7020041
 

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Everything You Need to Know About Dating with a Chronic Illness

By Brenda Kimble, Nutritionist/Wellness Blogger
 
If you live with a chronic illness like pulmonary fibrosis, diabetes or Crohn’s disease, your dating life is going to look a little different–and that’s okay.
 
Being single and navigating the world of dating is challenging for everyone, but it can be especially difficult when your life comes with complications like needing to pack medication every time you leave home for more than a few hours.
 

disability and love

 
Finding someone who shares your interests and who will support you through life’s ups and downs takes time, so be patient and have fun. Whether you choose dating sites, singles events, clubs or meetups, putting yourself out there will help you find that special person who will love you unconditionally–even on your worst days. If you are single with a chronic illness, follow these tips to make your dating journey a little easier.

 

Be Upfront About Your Illness

 
Deciding when to disclose your illness to a potential romantic connection is entirely up to you but consider telling them about it at the beginning of your interaction. It can be difficult to open up about something so personal to a stranger you don’t know and trust, but it can help you weed out people who aren’t worth your time. If someone isn’t going to accept all of you and love you the way you are, that person isn’t worth dating.
 
If you are anxious about discussing your illness with a date, why not use technology to your advantage? Tell them about it over an email, text message or phone call.
 
People’s first reaction when they find out about your illness may be shock or discomfort. Allow them time to unpack that information before you sit down for a date can help you both decide if moving forward is right. Plus, by the time you meet up, they’ll have had a chance to let it settle and come up with meaningful questions they have about your illness and how it affects your life. Being upfront is scary, but it’s an incredibly helpful dating tool.
 
disabled love

 

Highlight Your Best Assets and Don’t Be a Victim

 
You’re going to be just as self-conscious on a first date as anyone, so practice the best piece of dating advice out there and play up your best assets! If your illness has caused some weight loss or weight gain, go shopping for an outfit that fits great and highlights your favorite body parts. Experiencing hair loss? Try a cool hat or an updo. Figure out what you love most about yourself and play up those areas while minimizing the things that make you feel self-conscious. Confidence looks hot on everyone.
 
People are going to follow your lead when it comes to your illness. The more relaxed you act about it, the better they will feel about it. If you are sad about it, they will feel sad about it. Lead by example and don’t walk around holding up a sign that says you’re a victim. You’ve got to love yourself before anyone else can love you–with or without a chronic illness.

 

Be Willing to Adapt

 
Things aren’t always going to go as planned, so adaptability is key to avoiding some of the frustrations of dating with a chronic illness. You might have just spent hours getting ready for a date and then realize you need a nap. That’s okay.
 
Sometimes your significant other may want to do something your body won’t let you do. It’s going to be frustrating at first, even embarrassing. But once you and your partner learn that plans will sometimes change, you’ll see that it doesn’t need to affect your relationship negatively.
 
If you have dietary restrictions, consider alternatives to the dinner date. We tend to have it hard-wired into our brains how a date should look, but quality time can be spent in many ways.
 
Do something outside, enjoy the arts, see a movie and pack your snacks from home. Who cares if your dating life looks a little different than it does in cheesy romantic comedies? Life happens and the more willing you are to adapt, the better you can love and be loved.

 

Don’t Overdo it and Laugh it Off if You Do

 
Adventure sports or extreme roller coasters might not be the best first date ideas if you live with a chronic illness. Don’t pretend like something is fine if it’s not. If you have a migraine, you’re not going to have fun at a rock concert, and if you are miserable, your date isn’t going to have fun either. It’s better to be upfront about how you are feeling and what you can do than try to tough it out and deal with the consequences later. Pretending isn’t fun and it’s not a good way to get to know someone.
 
When you do find yourself in a less-than-ideal situation, remember to laugh it off. You’re going to fall sometimes or need to sneak away to give yourself medication or treatment in an awkward way. Don’t take it too seriously. There are many circumstances you go through with a chronic illness that are silly and it’s best to laugh about them rather than make them a big deal.

 

mended heart
 

Recognize When They Aren’t Worth Your Time

 
Some people just don’t have what it takes to handle someone’s health issue. Others lack empathy or don’t have the willingness to nurture others. If someone is insensitive, rude, describes you as “difficult” or their lifestyle contradicts yours, you need to let them go. 
 
People who are worth your time and energy as a friend, let alone a potential romantic partner, will understand that you have good days and bad. They won’t ever fully understand what you go through, but they’ll want to try. They’ll be respectful, supportive and loving.

 

Remember You Are Worthy of Love

 
Don’t define yourself and your personality by your illness. You are a person, first and foremost, who happens to be sick. When you stop thinking of yourself as an illness, others will, too. You may have certain limits in life, but that doesn’t make you less worthy or capable of love. Not by a long shot.

 

One way to help you feel your best (and love yourself the most) is to find balance in your microbiome. Supplementing with probiotics will allow you to deal with some of your discomfort head-on. Therefore, you will be able to hit the dating scene running! Get your microbiome tested today!
 
Brenda Kimble is a nutrition coach and wellness blogger from Austin, TX. She is also a mother of 2 daughters and a son. Her life’s goal is to encourage herself and others to live a more balanced lifestyle, incorporating healthier habits and exercise practices, which she does by connecting with people in her industry through her writing. When she is not working, she enjoys yoga and spending time with her family. 

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Guest Post: Can Probiotics Help Allergies? We Review the Research

By Brenda Kimble, Nutritionist/Wellness Blogger
 
Studies about the link between gut bacteria and health have been gaining a great deal of attention lately. This field of study has come out with exciting finds that continue to change the way we think about health and medicine.
 
These studies show that the microbes in our gut have even more of an impact on our bodies than previously thought. We knew they could determine how well we digest food and absorb nutrients, but now we are seeing that gut bacteria can also affect our hormone balance, immune response and more.
 
Since allergies are an immune response, it is reasonable to think that probiotics could affect allergy sufferers. Some research has come out recently that seems to prove that idea.

 

Blowing Nose

 

What Are Allergies?

 
To understand how probiotics can help allergy sufferers, it helps to know what allergies are. Allergies are an immune response to various substances in the environment called allergens. These allergens can be dust, pollen or substances in food.
 
When allergens enter the body, an immune response is triggered. T-cells are dispatched to attack the invading molecule. Extra blood is pushed toward the area to help move T-cells and increase their concentration. Tissues begin to inflame, and other area-specific responses can start. For example, mucus production can ramp up to try and move allergens out of the nose.
 
In short, it is the body’s overreaction to allergens that lead to the unpleasant, and sometimes dangerous, allergy response.

 

The Gut Microbiome

 
The gut, or intestines, has hundreds of species of microbes whose individual numbers are in the billions. These microbes function as an entire organ and have one of the highest metabolic rates for organs in the body.
 
While there are yeasts in the gut, their numbers are relatively low. The majority of the microbes in the gut are bacteria.
 
These bacteria are responsible for much of our digestion and nutrient absorption. In addition to the gastric and pancreatic enzymes, the bacteria excrete enzymes which help break food down and release nutrients we would not be able to access on our own. They also can facilitate the movement of nutrients into the bloodstream or keep nutrients from entering the body.
 
Recent research has also indicated that microbes can do a lot more than affect our nutrition. They can also affect other important regulatory compounds. For instance, research has shown that taking probiotics can increase the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which can lead to a more stable mood.
 

 
Research like this has sparked interest in looking at other areas where probiotics might affect our health. Some researchers have taken that search in the direction of allergies. What they have found has been fascinating.

 

Probiotics and Hay Fever Symptoms

 
A study published in 2017 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition received a lot of notice with its findings that a mixture of three probiotic bacteria positively improved the symptoms of allergy sufferers during allergy season. These bacteria include Lactobacillus and two Bifidobacterium species.
 
This was a double-blind study of 173 patients who self-reported as allergy sufferers. They took the MRQLQ test, which is used to determine the severity of symptoms and quality of life-related to allergies, before and after taking either a placebo or the three bacteria as part of a probiotic for eight weeks.
 
While improvements were not as high as the team initially predicted based on previous research, there was a distinct improvement in scores in the probiotic group compared to the placebo group. This indicates the probiotic did improve the symptoms and life quality of the patients tested.

 

An Overview of the Metadata for Probiotics and Rhinitis Research

 
A metadata analysis is when multiple research studies are gathered and analyzed as a group. This determines trends over many studies and helps validate data. If multiple studies show the same or similar results, the hypothesis gains validity. If results are all different, the hypothesis is considered invalid, or the tests have been inadequate.
 
So far there has been one metadata analysis for the research concerning probiotics and seasonal allergies or hay fever. The analysis showed that taking probiotics is likely to help allergy sufferers. However, there are some issues with this analysis.
 
One of the limitations that this meta-analysis showed is that many of the studies were using different bacterial strains in their probiotics. This makes it harder to tell if specific strains work better or if probiotics, in general, are the key.
 
However, the analysis was positive and strongly encouraged more research into this topic.

 

Gut Microbiomes and Infant Allergies

 
Arthur C. Ouwehand published an article in the The Journal of Nutrition in 2007 that became the basis of many research projects involving probiotics’ effect on allergies.
 
This article looked at the gut bacteria in infants and the rates of certain types of allergies they exhibited. What he found was that infants with more adult-like microbiomes were more likely to have specific allergic reactions.
 
Infants with a strain of Lactobacillus rhamnosus or Bifidobacterium lactis (a Bifidobacterium more common in children than in adults) were less likely to have certain allergic reactions.
 

Microbiome

 
Ouwehand posited that certain microbes would change what type of immunoglobulins the infants created in their bodies. The adult-like microbes created IgE, which created an immune response, while infants with higher levels of the Bifidobacterium species created IgA, which reduces inflammation response and inhibits allergy response. Blood serum tests seem to support this.

 

A Cure for Allergies?

 
The evidence is adding up to suggest that taking probiotics and taking care of your body will likely help reduce allergen symptoms. However, they are not a cure.
 
The more likely scenario for using probiotics to treat allergies is that they will be used as part of a holistic approach to manage symptoms. If the gut can be kept healthy and the immune response is dampened, then patients will be less likely to have allergy symptoms or will at least be able to reduce the symptoms.
 
This approach may not work for everyone, and patients should always consult with a doctor before adding anything to their routine or changing any medicines. We also do not know which strains of bacteria are most effective for reducing symptoms yet nor do we know proper dosage. Further research is needed in all areas of this field, but the future looks promising.
 
Brenda Kimble is a nutrition coach and wellness blogger from Austin, TX. She is also a mother of 2 daughters and a son. Her life’s goal is to encourage herself and others to live a more balanced lifestyle, incorporating healthier habits and exercise practices, which she does by connecting with people in her industry through her writing. When she is not working, she enjoys yoga and spending time with her family. 

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Bacteria Strain With Cancer-Fighting Abilities Found in Skin Microbiota

Can the cure for cancer already be on your body? Think that sounds preposterous? What if we told that this cancer-fighting agent was actually a strain of bacteria? Well, we’re telling you research has found some promising news about all of these claims.
 

cancer research in cure for cancer

 
Sure, there is no cure for cancer but human skin cells contain a bacteria that can help stop cancer sells from dividing. Let’s take a look at this strain and what it might mean in the ongoing search for a cure for cancer.

 

Bacteria Can Fight Cancer?

 
There was a study recently published in Science Advances, a hub where scientific breakthroughs are posted by scientists. In this study,  the commensal strain of bacteria, Staphylococcus epidermis found on human skin was researched by a panel of scientists.
 

Staphylococcus epidermidis cure for cancer 

Staphylococcus epidermidis

 
One of the scientists that authored this piece was Dr. Richard Gallo of the Department of Dermatology at the University of California. As Dr. Gallo shared with The Guardian, “The presence of this strain may provide natural protection, or it might be used therapeutically to inhibit the growth of various forms of cancer.” Let’s take a deeper look as to how these scientists came to such a potentially game-changing conclusion.

 

Research on Bacteria and Cure for Cancer

 
Dr. Gallo and fellow scientists weren’t necessarily looking for a cure for cancer. In fact, they weren’t examining cancer at all. The original reason for this study was to examine skin bacteria and its antimicrobial properties.

 

6-hap cure for cancer
6-HAP on skin cells
 
During this research, the professionals discovered a strain of Staphylococcus epidermis that produced a molecule known as 6-N-hydroxyaminopurine (6-HAP). 6-HAP has the ability to inhibit the growth of an enzyme known as DA polymearse.
 
DNA polymearse helps copy the DNA of a cell, facilitating division and growth. While we want that process to happen for healthy cells, we don’t want the same for cancer cells.
 
cure for cancer
 
A study with mice found a promising potential cure for cancer. Some were injected with 6-HAP while others weren’t. The results found that 60% of the mice injected with 6-HAP had smaller tumors than those who weren’t injected with anything.
 
As Dr. Gallo theorized to Science News, the scientists believe that 6-HAP’s molecular structure has a lot to do for this bacteria strain’s cancer-fighting abilities. The molecule resembles adenine.
 

cure for cancer

Adenine

 
This is a nucleobase that is a key component of DNA structure. Dr. Gallo summed up these findings with, “Because of that structure, we wondered if it interfered with DNA synthesis.”

 

6-HAP and Cancer

 
As the scientists dug themselves deeper down the rabbit hole, they found even more interesting facts about 6-HAP. They discovered 6-HAP was able to inhibit the growth of many tumor cells. Using a Petri dish, the scientists tested melanoma and lymphoma cells with 6-HAP. Results prove  that this molecule may have strong cancer-fighting properties.
 

cure for cancer 

Melanoma Cells

 
Taking this logic, scientists added the strain of Staphylococcus epidermis that produced 6-HAP to the skin of mice. The mice were then put under UV light. Results found that mice exposed to Staphylococcus epidermis produced fewer skin tumors. They compared this to mice exposed to Staphylococcus epidermis that didn’t have 6-HAP producing microbes. Those mice amassed bigger tumors.

 

No Cure for Cancer Doesn’t Mean No Hope

 
While this research is promising, we are nowhere out of the park when it comes to find the cure for cancer. However, this is a promising start. As one of the scientists, Dr. Lindsay Kalan of the University of Wisconsin-Madison stated in the Science News article, “It is important to understand how the microbiome interacts with its human host before we can begin to manipulate it for disease treatment.”
 
That means as microbiome research continues to grow, we might one day have an answer to the cure for cancer. The weird thing is that solution might just be a strain of bacteria. But hey, with bacteria like phage being used as a therapeutic agent, anything is possible. The world of medicine is always evolving and we will always be here to keep an eye on it and to break it all down for you!

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11 Best Supplements to Strengthen Your Microbiome

Our gut microbes depend on nutrients from our diet to grow strong and keep bad bacteria at bay. Unfortunately, poor diets are void in these nutrients. Here are the best microbiome supplements to improve gut health.
 
Sour stomach…Mood swings…Weight gain…Anxiety…Lack of sleep…Does any of this sound like your life? Then you might have some disruptions going on in your gut microbiome. Therefore, microbiome supplements may be the answer.

 

How Microbiome Supplements Can Improve Your Gut Health

 
Our gut biome is the environment of living organisms (gut microbiota) present inside our gastrointestinal tract. The gut biome ranges from: 
 
• The Good (Beneficial Bacteria)
• The Benign (Some Fungi, Yeast)
• The Painful (Viruses, Inflammation, Fungal, Yeast, Bacterial Infection)
 
If you are suffering from an unhealthy microbiome, then you probably experience many, if not all, of the symptoms mentioned above. While it takes a bit of commitment, you can eventually strengthen your microbiome. 
 
Many people turn to probiotic supplements as the sole answer. Don’t get us wrong; probiotics are the most effective for reinoculating your gut microbiome with good bacteria. However, they’re just one of the many pieces in a large puzzle of a microbiome diet. Strengthen your gut health with these 11 microbiome supplements.
 
Apple Cider Vinegar for Microbiome Supplements
 
Knowing where to start when you are trying to improve your gastrointestinal health can be overwhelming. Luckily, microbiome testing is our area of expertise, and we are here to help. So, let’s go over 11 supplements you will want in your house to boost your microbiome balance and overall health.

 

Apple Cider Vinegar

 
This old school treatment has a myriad of health benefits to this very day. Apple cider vinegar goes a long way in killing off the bad bacteria in your gut. Thus, your helpful stomach bacteria gets an opportunity to set up residence, ultimately improving your intestinal flora.
 
What gives apple cider vinegar its incredible abilities such as restoring gut flora comes from how the product is made. Apples are first crushed and then introduced to bacterial yeast. This exposure causes the sugars to ferment and transform into alcohol.
 
More bacteria are added to the process, causing even more fermentation to transpire. Eventually, an enzyme-rich vinegar is made in the form of acetic acid.
 
Acetic acid helps break down food in the gut, making the digestion of food easier. Furthermore, it may help ease gastrointestinal distress, such as feeling constipated, bloating, or abdominal discomfort.
 
Lastly, apple cider vinegar serves as prebiotics. Prebiotics are food for probiotics, the beneficial bacteria that live in your gut [1].

 

Arginine

 
This is an amino acid that our body produces on its own. However, it does get the moniker of being a “semi-essential” amino acid. This is much due to the fact that preterm infants are unable to produce this protein on their own. Therefore, the infant must get arginine via diet.
 
What makes arginine one of the best microbiome supplements is that this building block of life supports the cells living within the intestinal wall [2]. Keeping these cells strong is essential for healing Leaky Gut Syndrome and fighting off symptoms of IBS.
 
Additionally, arginine boosts the immune system, further helping the gut barrier maintain its integrity. Boosting the immune system goes a long way in supporting the microbiome because 80% of our immune cells come from our intestinal flora.
 
Using arginine supplements can help fight off infection as well as reduce inflammation within the intestines. Arginine’s bioavailability is strengthened when taken in unison with omega-3 fatty acids.

 

B-Vitamin Complex

 
B Vitamins are so important for many functions throughout the system, most notably providing the body with energy. Many B-Vitamins are scarce in a lot of foods in our everyday diet, even the best foods for gut health.
 
This nutrient deficiency is especially true of Vitamin B-12, which could only be found in animal fats and dairy. Therefore, vegans and vegetarians must supplement with this essential vitamin.
 
With that being said, many B-Vitamins serve a huge role in improving gastrointestinal distress associated with an unhealthy microbiome. 
 
Research has shown that those who abuse alcohol tend to have low levels of Thiamine (Vitamin B1) and small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO) [3]. That means this vitamin plays a crucial role in fighting off foreign substances in the microbiome, and when comprised by lifestyle choices can lead to gastric problems that need extreme interventions like surgery.
 
Vitamin B6, another essential micronutrient hurt by toxic substances such as alcohol and prolonged use of antibiotics, can help safeguard the body against inflammatory responses in the gut [4]. Heighten Vitamin B6’s bioavailability by taking in conjunction with magnesium citrate.

 

Iron

 
There is a battle going on in your gut between beneficial bacteria and bad bacteria. At the middle of this war? Currency called iron.
 
The tug-of-war over iron in your system may leave your good stomach bacteria low on this pivotal micronutrient.
 
One fascinating study explained how multiple strains of bacteria could gobble up all your iron:
 

“Bacteria in the Enterobacteriaceae family are particularly good at circumventing host factors that limit access to iron during inflammation, and many strains have accumulated iron acquisition proteins in an “arms race” against other bacteria and the host. The pathogen Salmonella entericaserovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) uses virulence factors to trigger inflammation and has iron acquisition and metabolic capabilities that give it a growth advantage in the inflamed gut. The probiotic Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 strain does not trigger inflammation, but also has an arsenal of iron acquisition elements that is comparable with or superior to many pathogens [5].”

Br J Nutr

 
This analysis means you should take iron supplements along with other supplements on this list. Doing so will ensure that the new intestinal flora generated in your gut gets plenty of iron. Once you feel back to your healthier self, you should be able to get enough iron through leafy greens and grass-fed protein.

 

Magnesium

 

Magesnium microbiome supplements

Magnesium plays a role in over 300 essential functions in the human body. As we mentioned earlier, one function is to improve the bioavailability of Vitamin B6. 
 
Sadly, magnesium is the 13th most abundant element in the universe. Yet so much of the world is suffering from a magnesium deficiency [6]. That’s because many of us don’t follow a healthy diet of fresh produce and dietary fiber. 
 
Research indicates that low levels of magnesium can ultimately lead to depression. This unfavorable side effect is because low levels of this element in your system can cause a catastrophic change in microbes within your own internal ecosystem [7].
 
Altering the microbiome is one of the main reasons why the gut-brain connection is illustrated through depression and the human microbiota.

 

Molybdenum

 
Speaking of magnesium, deficiencies in magnesium hurt the production of this trace mineral. Low levels of magnesium cause the liver to cease secreting molybdenum [8].
 
Not many have heard of this trace mineral. However, molybdenum is essential for many functions in our gut biome. This mineral acts as a co-factor alongside four important enzymes. When working in unison, molybdenum and these enzymes act as a catalyst for cells to produce energy. 
 
In turn, your body uses that energy to detoxify from:
• Alcohol
• Drugs
• Gaseous Byproducts of Mold
• Noxious Byproducts of Yeast
 
To get the best molybdenum supplements, be sure they are soaked in fermented grains or seeds. s and pea is also efficient [9]. Animal liver is also a viable option as it contains small amounts of this mineral.

 

Selenium

 
This is one of the most important microbiome supplements because it’s such a strong antioxidant. Selenium is found at the heart of antioxidant enzymes that are responsible for getting free radicals out of the system [10].
 
While there are no symptoms that point to a selenium-deficiency, research has shown that those who have long-term gut health conditions or an autoimmune disease are a greater risk of lacking the nutrient.

 

Vitamin A

 
Microbiome Supplements Vitamin A, Vitamin E
 
Speaking of antioxidants, you can’t get much more healing done than with Vitamin A. This essential vitamin works in unison with Vitamin D and Vitamin E to boost your immune system and repair your gut barrier [11].
 
Vitamin A also acts as a peacekeeper. It works to keep harmony between the microbes in your gut. In order to keep the peace, be sure to supplement Vitamin A with zinc and iron. Vitamin A uses these two minerals as a chauffeur as it moves throughout the body.

 

Vitamin E

 
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant [12]. Therefore, it helps manage bad cholesterol levels that clog up your gut health and may lead to cardiovascular disease.
 
As we mentioned before, Vitamin E also works in repairing the gut lining. This action is essential for those who are looking for healing a Leaky Gut. Vitamin E’s ability to rejuvenate cells is why this essential vitamin is found in a lot of burn and wound healing creams and oils.

 

Zinc

 
Zinc is essential for the bioavailability of many vital vitamins and minerals. This mineral also plays a massive role in the digestion of food.
 
That’s because this vitamin stimulates digestive enzymes [13]. In turn, these enzymes break down our food sources so that nutrients can become dispersed into the bloodstream.
 
Secondly, zinc plays a role in strengthening the gut barrier. This ensures waste and excess acid doesn’t leak out into the bloodstream. That makes zinc one of the most critical supplements in strengthening your microbiome.

 

Microbiome Testing, Personalized Probiotics, and a Healthy Diet

 
We may be biased, but we believe this is the most important supplement of them all. Probiotics are living cultures that promote a healthy gut biome. When everything is going smoothly, probiotics live happily in your gut, feeding on the prebiotics they get from your food. 
 
Unfortunately, the Western Diet is not laden with probiotic foods fit to feed the human microbiome. It’s burdened with fatty meats, artificial sweeteners, and dairy products.
As poor gut health reigns supreme, probiotics start to die, and inflammations begin to pop up. This lets bad bacteria, yeast, and fungi to prosper, further hurting your overall gut health. The best way to fight off the bad guys is to add more good guys.
 
Although you can get many probiotics supplements with common strains found in a healthy gut microbiome, these dietary supplements may not be the exact answer you are looking for. Generic blends don’t have the specific strains needed to help rebuild intestinal flora in your particular gastrointestinal tract.
 
That is why at Thryve, we do microbiome testing. With our At-Home Gut Health Test Kit, we determine which gut bacteria is causing you gastrointestinal distress. Thryve is a three-phase program for helping an unbalanced gut microbiome. Here’s how.

 

Test for Microbial Diversity

 
gut health test kit
 
The kit has everything you need to safely, quickly, and securely collect a stool sample from your toilet paper with a sterile swab. Immerse the swab in our proprietary preservative liquid in the enclosed vial. 
 
Mail the vial back to us in the enclosed envelope. Our laboratory uses DNA extraction to isolate the different types of bacteria found in your sample. Based on these clusters of living beings, we can make an educated determination of the ratios of each intestinal microbiota present in your gut. 

 

Personalized Probiotic Supplementation 

 
From there, we can recommend a probiotics supplement custom to a person’s microbiome. This allows us to fill in the missing pieces of your gut with loads of good quality probiotic bacteria it is definitely missing. 

 

Dietary Changes and Food Sensitivities 

 

Thryve Probiotics and Microbiome Testing

 
Our program also has an in-depth microbiome diet database. It’s laden with prebiotic-rich foods matched up to the bacterial species in your personalized probiotic supplement. The foods we suggest provide dietary fiber to the good bacteria we’re trying to help you grow. 
 
We also use the case report on your gut health test to determine which food sensitives you might have. Gut microbes prefer specific food components. So, we can tell you which foods are allowing for the overgrowth of bad bacteria. That way, you can make the necessary dietary changes to prevent food sensitivities.
 
A mixture of probiotic therapy and the right foods could help increase your energy levels, maintain a healthy weight, boost your mental health, improve your immune response, and more!

 

Click Here To View Resources

Resources

 

[1] Gunnars, Kris. “6 Proven Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 4 Mar. 2020, www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-proven-health-benefits-of-apple-cider-vinegar.
 
[2] Xia, M., Ye, L., Hou, Q., & Yu, Q. (2016). Effects of arginine on intestinal epithelial cell integrity and nutrient uptake. The British journal of nutrition, 1–7. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1017/S000711451600386X.
 
[3] Martin, Peter R., et al. “The Role of Thiamine Deficiency in Alcoholic Brain Disease.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2003, pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-2/134-142.htm
 
[4] Lotto, V., Choi, S. W., & Friso, S. (2011). Vitamin B6: a challenging link between nutrition and inflammation in CVD. The British journal of nutrition, 106(2), 183–195. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114511000407.
 
[5] Lotto, V., Choi, S. W., & Friso, S. (2011). Vitamin B6: a challenging link between nutrition and inflammation in CVD. The British journal of nutrition, 106(2), 183–195. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114511000407.
 
[6] “Office of Dietary Supplements – Magnesium.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 24 Mar. 2020, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/.
 
[7] Winther G, Pyndt Jørgensen BM, Elfving B, et al. Dietary magnesium deficiency alters gut microbiota and leads to depressive-like behaviour. Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2015;27(3):168-176. doi:10.1017/neu.2015.7.
 
[8] Kim, K. H., Funaba, M., Yoshida, M., & Matsui, T. (2013). The effects of magnesium deficiency on molybdenum metabolism in rats. Biological trace element research, 151(1), 100–104. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12011-012-9541-3.
 
[9] Swain, M. R., Anandharaj, M., Ray, R. C., & Parveen Rani, R. (2014). Fermented fruits and vegetables of Asia: a potential source of probiotics. Biotechnology research international, 2014, 250424. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/250424.
 
[10] Tinggi U. (2008). Selenium: its role as antioxidant in human health. Environmental health and preventive medicine, 13(2), 102–108. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12199-007-0019-4.
 
[11] Liu, J., Liu, X., Xiong, X. Q., Yang, T., Cui, T., Hou, N. L., Lai, X., Liu, S., Guo, M., Liang, X. H., Cheng, Q., Chen, J., & Li, T. Y. (2017). Effect of vitamin A supplementation on gut microbiota in children with autism spectrum disorders – a pilot study. BMC microbiology, 17(1), 204. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12866-017-1096-1.
 
[12] “Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin E.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 31 July 2020, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/.
 
[13] Jing, M. Y., Sun, J. Y., Weng, X. Y., & Wang, J. F. (2009). Effects of zinc levels on activities of gastrointestinal enzymes in growing rats. Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition, 93(5), 606–612. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0396.2008.00843.x.

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What is a Microbe?

You probably know more about microbes than you realize. While the term microbe itself may seem foreign, we’re sure you’ve heard about bacteria, eaten a fungi, or have read an article about a virus in your life. Those are types of microbes. In fact, microbes are a blanket term for a whole other world of microorganisms.
 
Okay, so while you may now realize that you know a thing or two about microbes, there’s still a lot to learn. Like, what is the difference between types of microbes such as a virus or a bacteria strain or a yeast?
 
So, let’s take a look at the different types of microbes and what sets them apart from one another.

 

What Are Microbes?

 
In order for distinct types of microbes to be classified, they need to have a common denominator that would put them all under the same umbrella. Microbes is a broad term for a “microscopic organism.”
 

That means that microbes are too small to be seen without the use of a microscope.

 

Archaea

 
These are single-celled organisms. They contain no nucleus but do have an outer membrane. The membrane consist of liquids that unique to the strain.
 

bacteria

On a superficial level, archaea is similar to bacteria. In fact, this microbe used to be classified as archaebacteria. After all, archaea checked all the boxes of a bacteria. The two life forms have a comparable size and shape.
 
Both archaea and bacteria:
 
• Genetically have a circular structure
• Are Missing Organelles
• Thrive in Like Environments
 
However, that’s where the similarities end. On a biochemical level, the outer membrane has a rare lipid only found in that particular archaea. Additionally, the actual infrastructure of their cell walls differ from bacteria. Bacteria’s wall is comprised of peptidoglycan cells, meaning that it’s a bunch of connective tissue held together by two or more amino acids.
 
In fact the differences between the two life forms became so clear that archaeabacteria became just archaea. That’s right, archaea got the ol’ Pluto treatment. Don’t worry Pluto, you don’t need the solar system. If archaea can go on and do it’s own thing, then you can too!

 

Bacteria

 
Bacteria has been around a minute…or two…or 3.5 million years. All booming life today are direct descendants of the first organisms to live on earth. This bacteria has been immortalized in the oldest fossil known to man.
 
Size-wise, most bacteria is smaller than the cells that comprise our bodies.
 

Like archaea, most bacteria don’t have any organelles such as the nucleus, but they do have an outer membrane. In order to survive, almost every strain of bacteria needs to be surrounded by one layer of cell wall minimum.

 

Fungi

 
Unlike the first two types of microbes on this list, fungi do have a nuclei. They are made of chitin, which are oddly enough the same substance responsible for the exoskeleton of crustacean life. Fungi covers a wide range of species. The ones that are most common to human life are:
 
• Molds
• Mushrooms
• Yeast
 
While all classified as fungi those three react differently to their environment. For one, molds and mushrooms are the fruiting byproducts of a strain of fungi.
 

Black Mold

 

Black Mold

 
What makes mushrooms (not black mold) nutritional are that they are long fibers and full of healthy carbs and amino acids.  However, if they’ve gone bad they can very detrimental to health. That’s where the black mold type of fungi steps in.
 
While mushrooms and mold usually come from breaking down waste in the ecosystem, yeast is mostly present on the human body. Don’t be confused with the cooking yeast. While mostly harmless to the human body, the condition yeast infection wasn’t conjured up out of thin air! So don’t go cooking your fungi!

 

Protists

 
These type of microbes can be single-celled or multi-cellular and do contain a nuclei.  However, that’s where their similarities among one another end. Taxonomists are constantly changing the classification of the microorganisms classified as protists because they don’t know where else to put them.
 
In general, the multi-cellular type of protists live as colonies, but there’s no specialization in this process. So, no one knows exactly what makes different types of protists thrive.
 

They’re so unique that some use chloroplasts to make their own food while others feast on decomposed cells. Additionally, protists tend to reproduce rapidly and in many ways. They are also known to live out complex lives.
 
Parasitic protists can be the cause of a number of deadly diseases. These include:
 
• Amoebic Dysentery
• Giardia
• Malaria
 
While that sounds scary, our body is host many protists. Most prove to be not harmful and some are even considered beneficial.

 

Virus

 
Besides bacteria, virus may be the most well-known microbe.  While there is a lot of ambiguity with many forms of microbes, viruses seem to fit into a nice package. They are microscopic organisms that are comprised of:
 
• Proteins
• Nucleic Acids
• Lipids (In Some Cases)
 
What makes viruses so scary, like the ones on your computer, are that they are designed to infect the specific host. For instance, when you are diagnosed with HIV, it’s because your unique immune cells are being attacked.
 
Not all viruses reproduce. That makes them a controversial addition to the list of microbes.
 

 
That’s because consider viruses not-living for the fact that they can’t do the single aspect that defines living organisms.

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Exercise And Its Effect On The Human Gut

 

Introduction

 
The gut microbiota is the collective microbial community housed within the lumen (the space inside the tubular structure) of our intestinal tract. There is a growing body of evidence on the capability of the human microbiome to respond to dietary, environmental, pathological and genetic factors. The gastrointestinal (GI) microbiome represents a complex network of trillions of microbes, mainly consisting of bacteria, which coordinate in a bidirectional way to affect our general state of health.
 
The effect of diet and potential therapies (prebiotics and probiotics), in improving the gut health, have been extensively studied and recently the role of environmental factors such as exercise is also being understood to affect our gut health and our health in general. A relatively recent cultural, behavioral and dietary shift alongside the availability of calorie-rich food has led to the development of an obesogenic (obesity) lifestyle in humans.
 
Obesity is ranked as the most prevalent preventable health-related disease globally. Current estimates suggest that approximately 2.1 billion people worldwide are either categorized as obese or overweight as of now. Obesity is understood to be a multifactorial disease resulting from interconnected factors such as social, environmental, physiological, neural, and genetic components. The gastrointestinal tract symbolizes the primary interface between our health and the consumed nutrients. Recent research has implicated the gut microbiota in the development of many metabolic diseases in humans.
 
Exercise has been widely recognized as a useful therapy for a range of diseases including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, depression, anxiety, diabetes, and systemic inflammation. The processes through which exercise can have a therapeutic effect on human diseases have been extensively studied and found to be many and also interconnected. In this article, we will try to focus on the role of exercise in the lens of changes in gut microbiota, the effect of exercise on our gut microbiota composition and the therapeutic benefits of exercise in transforming the characteristics of the gut microbiota.                                                                        

 

Exercise and The Gut Microbiome

 

 
In a study conducted, where mice were made to undergo exercise and their sedentary counterparts were compared based the diversity of their microbiota, researchers observed a change in over two thousand bacterial taxa. Research has already established the role of gut microbiota in the regulation of metabolism in skeletal muscle. In mice, exercise has been demonstrated to increase the prevalence of the Lactobacillales order and decrease bacteria from the Tenericutes phylum within the microbiota. This is further supported by the reported increase in the Lactobacillus genus in obese rats after undergoing exercise.
 
Multiple studies have shown that exercise induces an increase in microbial diversity, which is one of the signs of a healthy gut both in animals and humans. In one of the few studies which involved humans, athletic rugby players and healthy controls were compared based on their microbiota composition. Athletes showed more than twice as many phyla, genera, and families of bacteria compared to their non-athletic counterparts. This suggests a role of exercise in increasing our microbiota diversity.
 
Exercise has been shown to counteract the alterations in the gut microbiota caused by a high-fat diet. Moreover, evidence suggests that early life exercise can influence the gut microbiota composition stimulating the development of bacteria which are capable of determining our metabolic profile. Early life exercise might help in the optimal development of brain function and in promoting health-enhancing microbial guests in our gut.
 
There is enough literature to confirm a therapeutic role of exercise in promoting good health. The mechanisms by which the gut microbiota influences our energy, metabolism and satiety are being studied extensively and researchers have established the unique relationship of exercise in shaping our microbiome independent of the diet.  Thus, exercise alters the gut microbial population quantitatively and qualitatively which benefits the host aka us.
 
Exercise leads to the enrichment of microflora diversity, contributing to reducing weight, obesity, and gastrointestinal disorders. Exercise promotes the proliferation of gut bacteria which can influence our mucosal immunity and improve barrier function, which can help in the reduction of metabolic diseases and obesity.
 
Exercise also helps in stimulating the growth of bacteria which is capable of producing substances which protect us against colon cancer and gastrointestinal diseases. So, now you know how your gym routine, or your morning jog,  or the many other forms of exercises, are interconnected with the concept of human health in terms of your gut.
 
Disclaimer: The above article is sponsored by Thryve, the world’s first Gut Health Program that incorporates microbiome testing and personalized probiotics to ensure a healthier gut, happier life, and a brighter future.

 

Click Here To View Resources

Resources

 

[1] Monda V, Villano I, Messina A, et al. Exercise Modifies the Gut Microbiota with Positive Health Effects. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. 2017;2017:3831972. doi:10.1155/2017/3831972.
 
[2] Chandrakumaran H, Safdar A, Sager M, Nazli A, Akhtar M (2016) Regular Exercise Shapes Healthy Gut Microbiome. J Bacteriol Mycol Open Access 3(3): 00063. DOI: 10.15406/jbmoa.2016.03.0063.
 

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Depression And The Human Gut Microbiota

Depression is one of the most common disorders responsible for disability in humans worldwide. The causation of this reocurring condition has been found to involve the dysregulation in neuroendocrine (hormonal), neurotransmitter, and metabolic systems. Let’s take a look at how this disruptance affects the body, as we look at the depression and gut microbiota connection. 

 

How Are Depression and Human Gut Microbiota Connected?

 
Over the years, there has been enough evidence pointing towards the role of gut microbes in neural development and function. Together, the intestinal bacteria represents a virtual organ of sorts inside of us. In fact, these cells have almost 100 times more genetic material present than all the cells in our human body.
 
Unfortunately, the classification of all the microbes present in our body is incomplete. About 60% of these microbes cannot be grown in a lab for studies.
 
Even though the role of gut microbes in neurological conditions has not been well established, there has been a rapid increase in evidence which underlines the possibility that changes in the gut microbial environment have an effect on the normal functioning of our nervous system. Hence, our gut environment can have a major role to play in our mood and also in depression.

 

Gut Microbiota and the Brain

 

 
There exists a bidirectional communication between our gut microbiota and the components of the gut-brain axis. This communication can influence the normal functioning of the gut and may contribute to a risk of diseases in humans.
 
Changes in gastrointestinal (GI), autonomic nervous system (ANS), immune system, enteric (intestinal) nervous system (ENS), and central nervous system (CNS) brought about by the microbiota can lead to alterations in the following:
 
• GI barrier function
• Fat storage and energy balance
• Increased stress reactivity
• General low-grade inflammation (GI and systemic)
• Depressive-like behaviors and increased anxiety
 
All the above-mentioned mechanisms are found to be involved in the development of mood and anxiety disorders in humans.

 

Gut Microbiota and Mood

 

 
The vast number of bacteria which constitute the intestinal microbiome are engaged in interactions with each other, as well as its local environment, in a balanced manner. This tight-rope act is done to achieve the normal functioning of our body.
 
Microbes produce a wide range of biologically and neuroactive (acting on the nervous system) molecules, complete with neurotransmitters and an extensive set of short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acid are produced through fermentation, all of which have known and unknown effects on the nervous system.
 
These direct and indirect effects of the intestinal microbes on the intestinal tissues, local immune system and their components, and the enteric (intestinal) nervous system, affect the neuronal pathways of our brain. The above-mentioned processes together influence our mood and cognition by acting upon the components of our neural system. Increasing evidence points to a strong relationship between our intestinal health and our mental well being.  

 

Depression and the Microbiome

 
Depression is associated with altered gut microbial composition, richness, and diversity. In a study conducted where the researchers transplanted the microbiota signature found in depressed patients to rats whose own microbiota was purposefully depleted, this procedure induced the development of some of the behavioral (anxiety, anhedonia) and physiological features of the depressive state.    
 
Studies have also shown the impact of early life stress in remodeling the gut microbial composition. Subtle changes in microbial acquisition and maintenance during the vulnerable early life period may contribute to the predisposition of the individual to stress-related disorders in the adulthood. This can be a result of the effect of these subtle changes in our microbiome on the neuro signaling pathways of the brain-gut microbiota axis.
 
There is growing evidence suggesting the role of our intestinal microbes in neural development, both centrally in the brain and in the enteric nervous system. Depression is characterized by alterations in the gut microbiota and hence, we need to understand our gut so as to ensure a healthy functioning of our bodily systems. 
 

Understanding the gut brain connection gives us more tools in treating depression and other disorders of the brain. By sequencing your microbiome with consumer testing like Thryve, you’ll be able to gain more insights into how each of these microbes may contribute to your mood. Probiotics have also shown in studies to reverse negative emotions and enforce positive thinking. All in all, this should be enough to give us a whole new meaning to the quote: “You are what you eat.”  
 
Disclaimer: The above article is sponsored by Thryve, the world’s first Gut Health Program that incorporates microbiome testing and personalized probiotics to ensure a healthier gut, happier life, and a brighter future.

 

Click Here To View Resources

Resources

 

[1] Mood and gut feelings: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19481599.
 
[2] Gut-brain axis: how the microbiome influences anxiety and depression: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166223613000088.
 
[3] Transferring the blues: Depression-associated gut microbiota induces neurobehavioural changes in the rat. : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27491067.

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