Wait, I’m more bacteria than human?
Yes, our human cells are outnumbered 10:1 compared to microbes. We have over 20,000 different genes in our body but 2 million or more bacterial genes in our gut. The gut microbiome is the trillions of bacteria found in our intestinal tract and has become a very popular topic. This fascinating and fairly new area of research that was not even taught in medical schools before the year 2000. We’re learning a lot but look forward to much more to come. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Can I really help shape the future and my health?
Yes! While we’ve always been proponents of eating a healthy diet and exercising, because “it’s good for you,” we’re finding out more and more why that is true. It’s exciting to look at the research that’s being done in this area because it shows that we have some control over our current and future health. Two-thirds of our immune system is in our gut and only about half of disease is genetic. That leaves 50% that we can attempt to change! If we can do something to help prevent diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease (now called Type 3 Diabetes), depression, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and a whole host of other chronic issues and diseases so many of us suffer from, isn’t it worth a try?
The Gut Instinct: The gut microbiome affects everything in the body in some way. In fact, it has a direct link to the brain via the vagus nerve. The brain and the bacteria in your gut are constantly talking to each other. In Dr. Mark Hyman’s documentary, The Broken Brain, he talks about the gut as being our second brain. While we’ve always considered the brain to be the main control center of the body, there are 400 times the number of messages coming from the microbiome to the brain than from the brain to the rest of the body. These messages about what’s going on in the body, are sent through chemicals called neurotransmitters. We normally think of these as being made in the brain, but actually there are more in the gut. These chemical messengers control our emotions, motivation, memory, motor function and sleep, just to name a few. For example, over 90% of serotonin, which controls our mood, is produced mainly in the gut. Imagine how cranky we can be if our gut microbiome is out of balance? It’s amazing to think that our bacteria controls whether we’re healthy, happy, depressed or diseased. If our gut is unhealthy, so many of the functions in our body can be impaired.
Please read The Gut Microbiome, Part Two: The Road to a Healthy Gut, for more information on our gut microbiome and ways to improve our health through our bacteria.