The heart beats a hundred thousand times a day without you knowing. You, without having to flinch a muscle breathe upwards of 30,000 times a day. There is so much going on in your body that you have no control over.
What if I were to tell you that there is a whole part of your body that trains your immune system, controls inflammation, impacts your brain and absorbs every bit of food you take in your body without you knowing it?
Well, there is such a thing and it has a mind of its own. This part of your body is run by something other than your brain. This part of your body is the gut and it is inhabited with something other.
Small little colonies of living organisms that have a massive impact on your body are responsible for these processes. The truth is that over 90% of your genetic make-up is not your own, it’s your gut bacteria (1). Because the gut consists of 100 times more DNA than your actual body we must understand how the expression of that DNA is altered and damaged by what we eat.
What is the Microbiota?
You hear these words thrown around all of the time, gut flora, microbiome, microbiota, colon and large intestine. The problem is that we often don’t understand these terms fully. Let’s explain a couple of them now.
The microbiota consists of the living organisms inside of your gut. They are microbes that exist inside of our bodies in small tribes. It’s wildly similar to a city of people. Except, this city is hostile and property is more cut throat than Manhattan, believe it or not (1).
The micrbiome is a little more complex. If the microbiota consists of the living organisms the microbiome is the DNA that makes up those organisms. The Genes that compose those little bacteria are called the microbiome. The microbiome tells the little bacteria who to be, what to do and how to act (1).
This portion of your body is so vast, so complex that we can’t even begin to scratch the surface of the complexity of the tribes living in the gut (1). The main reason is that the human gut is so unique that we can’t recreate the environment in a lab. Meaning, we cannot grow the unique cultural strains in the gut in a petri dish to analyze them.
What the Microbiome Does
This portion of our body can make or break us. It can shift our energy to peak levels or sink us into autoimmune disorders. It can cause you to absorb every vitamin in that salad you had for lunch or absorb none of it at all.
The gut can cause inflammation in the body or reduce it. The gut is the epicenter of human health. More and more research is linking things like heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders, brain fog, depression, weight gain, chronic obesity, and other seemingly unrelated diseases, to the gut.
The crazy thing is that each and every one of us has the ability to bio-hack this part of our body. To get it running in tip top shape and turn us into super humans. To give us the power to do anything our minds can conceive. However, we can also destroy it by what we put in our mouths.
Damage to the Genes
There are foods and drugs that can impact the genetic expression of the microbiome. Meaning, that toxins, environmental factors and prescription drugs can alter the DNA of the microbiome.
When we put these foreign objects into our body the small microbes will digest them. Meaning, they eat these compounds for fuel to live. This can present a problem if we’re regularly ingesting toxins.
Actually, in a normal, seemingly healthy adult, around one third of their microbiome consists of microbes with damaged cells (2). Meaning, that because of what they’ve ingested they have damaged the genes of the cells in their gut flora.
As you might have guessed, a big factor in determining the health of the gut microbes is diet. It’s safe to say that the Western diet is a recipe for disaster and not supportive of a healthy gut, to say the least.
However, there are many lifestyle factors that can weaken the microbial health of your gut.
Some of which are psychological and emotional such as worry, depression, anxiety, and anger. This is largely because the gut and brain are connected through the gut-brain axis.
Others are endogenous factors from both the body and gut. ‘Endogenous factor’s is a fancy way of saying factors that already exist from within the body. There are many endogenous factors from both the body and inside the gut that can contribute to causing an unbalanced gut.
Another contributing factor is the state of an individuals microbiota (aka the gut flora in the large intestine).
Gut flora resides on the inner most layer of the intestinal lining, the mucus layer. The body’s largest bacterial community is located in the gut with about 10¹² of bacteria per gram of tissue. In a healthy individual, their gut bacteria is dominated by beneficial microbes.
Healthy gut bacteria includes beneficial fungi, protozoa, beneficial viruses, and even beneficial worms. In a healthy gut, all these beneficial microbes work together to live in harmony, keep the body balanced, and keep the tight junctions in the intestinal barrier working correctly.
Amidst the beauty of all the beneficial microbes, it is important to recognize that there are also hundreds of bad bacteria and pathogenic microbes that coexist along-side the beneficial bacterial strains.
For an individual to be healthy and have strong immune system, these good bacteria must far outnumber the bad. When the gut flora is dominated by healthy microbes, the pathogenic bacteria are outnumbered and kept in check, often remaining neutral.
However, these neutral microbes are very opportunistic and when given opportunity, will eagerly take over and turn pathogenic.
When the gut flora is out of balance, the immune system weakens, making that individual more vulnerable to sickness and disease, such as IBS-C, IBD, IBS-D, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohns etc.
WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?
I know what you’re thinking…
… If you have IBS-D, IBS-C, IBD … or another type of gut disorder, you naturally want to rush back into (or start for the first time) any or ALL of the following:
I. A Strict Elimination Diet like the LowFODMAP diet to avoid foods that will irritate the gut and throw off the bacteria balance in your microbiome.
II. Going Back to See Your Doctor for Gut Tests like Food Allergy panels, colonoscopies, testing for parasites etc trying to ‘get to the bottom of things’.
III. Researching New Probiotic Supplements, trying to find ‘the one’ that will magically solve all your problems.
IV. And Heck, maybe you’ll even get your anxiety and depression remedied with Anti-anxiety and Antidepressant drugs … I mean, why not?
That should solve it all, right?
The answer is not surprisingly…
No. All those above ‘solutions’ and ‘quick fixes’ that you find all over the internet are NOT the solution.
But, you already knew that.
So … what DOES work?
Anything???? Anything at all????
Surprisingly … Yes. There is something.
What DOES actually work is a well formulated plan backed by, PROVEN and tested by Scientific Research AND Neuroscience to attack the root cause of your IBS for good AND prevent reoccurrence. This is crucial.
You need to go after the Deeper root problem that is at a cellular and neurological level with Hard Work, Dedication and Consistency.
Otherwise, you’ll stay on the vicious cycle of cutting out trigger foods, trying elimination diets, endlessly researching while NEVER annihilating the ROOT of the problem causing your IBS.
If you’re tired of wasting time and energy on ‘solutions’ don’t work such as the LowFODMAP Diet, watch our free training to learn 5 scientifically backed shifts that can help you naturally alleviate your symptoms.
- Join The IBS Platform and meet others worldwide who want to take control of their digestive health and get their lives back. This community is a free science based Facebook group where others are committed to finding the answers to solve IBS-D, IBS-C, IBD, Crohns and Ulcerative Colitis. To Join, CLICK HERE.
- Create a Strategy: This week we are offering a chance for you to get clarity on your individual struggles with your digestion and form a strategy unique to your symptoms. IBS-D, CLICK HERE. For IBS-C, CLICK HERE
2. Xenobiotics Shape the Physiology and Gene Expression of the Active Human Gut Microbiome. Published in Cell Press Volume 152, Issues 1–2, 17 January 2013, Pages 39–50.
3. The Effect of Diet on the Human Gut Microbiome: A Metagenomic Analysis in Humanized Gnotobiotic Mice. Published inTranslational Medicine 11 Nov 2009: Vol. 1, Issue 6, pp. 6ra14, DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3000322
5. Enders, Giulia. Gut: The Inside Story Of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ. Scribe, 2015. Print.
7. Stephan C Bischoff; Giovanni Barbara; Wim Buurman; Theo Ockhuizen; Jörg-Dieter Schulzke; Matteo Serino; Herbert Tilg; Alastair Watson; Jerry M Wells. “Intestinal Permeability – A New Target for Disease Prevention and Therapy.BMC Gastroenterol. 2014;14(189).