Research into the gut microbiota is exploding and more and more the media tells us how important our gut health is to our overall physical health and also our mental health. The word microbiome is sometimes used to describe the collective genome present in a particular environment such as the gut.
“All disease begins in the Gut” Albert Einstein
The gut microbiome consists of trillions of bacteria with approximately 200 prevalent types of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Therefore, correlating this mass of bugs to what is good and what is bad or what is typical in one particular disease or population is unimaginably complex. Despite its complex nature research is progressing at a pace using technology that measures the DNA of the microbiota. This technology has led to many more species being identified, then by using traditional culture methods, with an increase in efficiency and accuracy. Leading to various characterizations of the bacteria which can then be linked to various conditions such as obesity, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, depression, and cardiovascular disease. There are however very few conditions that won’t eventually be linked to the gut microbiome.
But what does this all mean? How can we individually improve the health of our Gut? What if I’m healthy is this relevant to me?
Many factors can affect our gut microbiome such as age, environment, stress, diet, and health status as well as medication exposure. However, these effects are very personalised. Whilst some changes in the gut microbiome may manifest themselves in obvious digestion symptoms such as bloating, stomach pain, or changes to bowel motions. For others, this side of things may remain silent, whilst cardiovascular risks may be present and brain conditions might develop.
So, whether you want to take preventable steps to modify your gut microbiome to reduce risks of developing illness in the future or whether you have some current concerns, where improving the microbiome could benefit your condition or set of symptoms, I can help guide you with what approach to take.
Nutritional Therapy takes Gut health extremely seriously and addressing it is fundamental when supporting clients.
Here are 3 ways in which I can support you in improving your gut health all approaches are personalised to you.
- Modifying diet and lifestyle – food first look at the basics and ensure you’re eating the right foods for you. This might mean excluding foods, but it always involves what foods you should include. Lifestyle also can affect the gut microbiome and may override any positive effects gained from eating the right foods, therefore suggestions to help manage stress or introduce/reduce exercise, for example, might be given.
- Understanding the place of supplements – although food should be our primary route to better health there is a place for using supplements. I will help guide you to where these might be appropriate based on what we know about you and the health of your gut. This might involve a short-term re-set or a longer-term maintenance approach.
- Finally testing – there is only so much we can ascertain from your symptom presentation. Functional testing such as a comprehensive stool analysis will give us more information such as how well you are absorbing foods and the makeup of your microbiome. In conjunction with your symptoms and situation, this will direct us to how best to support you with food, lifestyle, and supplements. It may also be appropriate to use breath testing to investigate SIBO, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
I will always discuss the pros and cons of each intervention based on what I know – always declaring when I don’t know the answer and seeking answers through research of peer support.
Contact me for a free 20-minute call to discuss how I might support you in improving your gut health.