It may be shocking to learn that our bodies have approximately 10x the amount of bacteria IN and ON our bodies than we do human cells! Collectively, these microbes are referred to as the microbiome. When most people think of the microbiome, they think of the gut microbiome, which includes the small and large intestine, with most bacteria residing in the large intestine. The gut microbiome is host to approximately 100 trillion bacteria and has been linked to many acute and chronic conditions and is critical to our health and wellbeing.
The gut microbiome plays an important role in maintaining balance within the digestive tract, and allows nutrients to be extracted which then serve as the building blocks to hormones, neurotransmitters, energy production cascades and a whole host of other critical processes within the body. Ultimately, the microbiome serves to regulate the immune and inflammatory processes within the body that if left unchecked can lead to disease.
To put it simply, humans exist because of our microbiomes, not despite it. This hopefully leads you to inquiring about what damages the microbiome…
What can damage the gut microbiome?
- Medications including: antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors, metformin, SSRIs, and laxatives
- High sugar, low fibre diet
- Environmental toxins through food, water and air with special emphasis on glyphosates and herbicides sprayed on foods
- Smoking and excessive use of alcohol
- Lack of regular physical activity
- Excessive and prolonged periods of stress
- Poor or insufficient amounts of sleep
The main principles to consider when contemplating how to support a healthy and diverse gut microbiome are to first remove any harmful sources within your environment to control the damage to the gut microbiome. Second, your focus should be on eating a diverse and healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds with a healthy amount of fats and proteins from animal or plant sources that are preferably organic! As a benchmark, we encourage our patients to consume at least 50 different foods in a given week.
Consuming probiotics can offer some benefit in terms of changing the composition or metabolic activity of gut bacteria but these are supplements and not permanent changes. In some cases, the human microbiome has been so damaged that no amount of diet or supplementation can restore it. In these more extreme cases, it is worth considering manipulating your microbiome from an unhealthy state to a healthy state. To accomplish this, you might want to consider a procedure called Fecal Microbiota Transplants (FMT) or sometimes it is referred to as Microbiome Transplant Therapy (MTT) to help in restoring lost or depleted bacteria that are essential to human health and wellbeing.
FMT as a procedure is being studied clinically across many different disease states. The procedure has demonstrated high clinical cure rates in recurrent C. difficile infection (CDI) and beyond this condition, FMT is also being studied across a broad range of other disease and conditions affected by the microbiome.
Our focus at Novel Biome is in supporting autistic children who suffer from digestive symptoms and significant microbiome imbalance to restore their microbiome through FMT. You can learn more about our approach to treatment by going here.
Team Novel Biome