Updated: Oct 19, 2020
A lot of times there is a negative connotation conjured up when people think of humans harboring bacteria. Oftentimes bacteria and microorganisms can be causative agents for diseases and infections taking root in the body. We see these microbes play a role in SIBO, urinary tract infections, conjunctivitis, influenza and common cold, etc. There must be a distinction between pathogenic microbes that enter a human body and cause issues and commensal bacteria that over-proliferate and cause symptoms. So lets break down the gut microbiome and how it's so critical to overall health.
It is said that the human gut fosters trillions of microorganisms that have a level of bearing on our health. There are many factors that contribute to one's overall balance of good to bad microbes in the gut. Some of these factors include: diet, stress, lack of sleep, inadequate hydration, unforgiveness and bitterness, exposure to chemicals from household cleaning products, genetically modified foods, non-organic foods, cosmetics and technological insults from blue light and wifi waves, etc.
Sometimes these factors can lead to a situation where the good bacteria start to overproduce. This can lead to symptomatic expression in various capacities due to an imbalance in the gut microbiota. For instance, most healthy adults have some amount of yeast present in the gut that poses no threats and is asymptomatic. However, certain things like high sugar diet and continued antibiotic use can lead to a candidiasis situation where there are elevated levels of candida. This can contribute to permeability issues in the gut and disease processes occurring elsewhere in the body. This is an example of how normal/commensal bacteria can be problematic when they over-proliferate. This is oftentimes the case with small intestine bacterial overgrowth as well. The commensal bacteria locate more in the small intestine, where they should mostly be in the large intestine, and symptoms can emerge like bloating, gas and distension.
Fresh produce offers incredible nutrients and antioxidants to bolster gut health.
A dysbiosis can occur as well when certain pathogenic microbes are ingested from contaminated drinking water or contaminated food. Sometimes parasites can enter the body through these methods, or even from an insect vector or human transmission via fecal oral route. These parasites should not be present, can contribute to abdominal pain, increased appetite as they feed off the food from the host, skin issues, brain fog, etc.
Whatever the situation is, a compromised gut microbiome is devastating for the body. Oftentimes there are direct gastrointestinal insults themselves. This can look like: IBS, IBD, SIBO, candidiasis, bloating, gas and abdominal pain. The symptoms/diseases don't end there. The compromised gut is associated with leaky gut syndrome, which means toxins and antigens can enter systemic circulation and cause issues virtually anywhere else in the body. Issues that emerge here include: migraines/headaches, thyroid issues, chronic fatigue, insomnia, mood instabilities, fibromyalgia, dermatitis issues, hormonal imbalances and many autoimmune conditions. In fact, it's interesting to do a simple search of the gut microbiome on PubMed. With just those search terms 25,372 search results are populated exploring the relationship between the gut and its influence on: headaches, skin, mood and endocrine health, depression, anxiety, gut disorders themselves, etc.
Oftentimes when I work with patients I address the gut upfront. If we can work to seal up the gut lining, balance out the microbes so the ratio is proper, eradicate inflammatory foods from the diet and optimize our thoughts to enhance health, we start to see drastic improvements in overall body-wide health. Not only do symptoms improve, but the functionality and physiology internally is recalibrated to disallow for easy recurrences. Addressing the gut is a foundational/imperative approach to achieving maximal health in the human body.
Dr. Seamus Allen
CFMP, DACBN, DC