Bellevue Nutrition | Update on the Human Microbiome

In the past five years or so much fascinating information has been discovered about the human microbiome, or the state of our “gut”, if you will. You probably already know, as of this writing, that much of our immune system is founded in the gut. But did you know that the state of your gut determines your serotonin level (which is a major feel good hormone)? In this blog I shall present the wealth of new information, in Cliff note format. And to think that, just a mere 15 years ago, when my ND told me that ‘my immune system was housed in my gut’ I said ‘Huh’?! ☺

*The microbiome extends from deep within our bodies to the skin and all surface areas exposed to the environment. It also includes bacteria, viruses, fungi, and yeasts that interact with our bodies, assisting with digestion, immune response and many other functions.

*Nutrition and exercise can positively affect the health of our microbiome.

*The Big Three factors that effectively kill gut health (and set us up for sickness) are Stress, Sugar, and Alcohol.

*An extremely sophisticated pathway called the Enteric Nervous System causes the gut to communicate with the rest of our body! The Enteric NS contains over 500 million neurons and over 40 distinct neurotransmitters! The Enteric NS has rightly been named The Second Brain.

*Approximately 95% of all our serotonin and 50% of our dopamine (2 major feel good neurotransmitters) are made in the gut.

*The Vagus Nerve (or 10th Cranial nerve), is a direct pathway between the gut, the brain, and our organs. Over 80% of the nerve fibers of the Vagus Nerve are arranged to direct information from the gut to the brain, not the brain to the gut as one would think!

*The surface area of our gut is about the size of a championship doubles court! As the gut is our primary interface with the external environment, it is also where 90% of our immune system activity takes place.

*Diet plays a critical role in the balance and composition of our microbiome. Each persons balance is different due to genomics, epigenetic, immunities, prior illnesses, activity levels, meds, and many other factors.

*At birth, for a baby born vaginally, the microbiome consists of vaginal and fecal microbes. For a baby born Cesarean it’s a different story, with skin flora creating the microbiome. The type of ‘inoculation’ a baby receives from birth can have lifelong consequences, with vaginal flora creating greater health and vitality.

*Exercise has been shown to have an important influence on a healthy microbiome, possibly through changes in metabolism, immune function or intestinal transit time.

**The take home message is: eat less sugar, less refined flour (or products in general), more whole foods, and as many veggies as possible. And ingest alcohol very sparingly.

For more health and fitness blogs please visit us on the web Thank you ☺

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