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Gut Health 101: Let’s Explore the Microbiome, Probiotics & How to Fix an Unhealthy Gut

“All disease begins in the gut,” proclaimed the 'Father of Medicine' Hippocrates centuries ago.

Today’s science increasingly confirms Father’s hunch about health issues. Our gut bacteria play a significant role in our overall health. They influence critical human functions, including our mental health, immune system, digestive functions, skin health, and weight [1].

The key to a healthy gut is maintaining a delicate balance of good bacteria and bad. Gut Health 101 covers everything you need to know about gut health, probiotics, and getting rid of harmful bacteria that may be causing you symptoms. 

Why Gut Health Is Important 

In Gut Health 101, we are going to break down all the complexities that make up up the microbiome. We’ll discuss probiotics, health-related conditions associated with poor gut health, and ways to fix your gut health naturally.

Most of us are born with a clean slate. We develop from a zygote into a fetus into a kicking and screaming little baby all within the safe environment of a mother’s womb.

This environment nurtures the development of the gut microbiome. Once we enter the world, we are greeted by a plethora of different germs that we’ve never encountered before. 

Some of these foreign bodies will cause us to get sick but, ultimately, boost our immune system. In other instances, these invaders can cause chronic inflammation that may result in a number of different conditions and diseases. 

Our gut is home to trillions of microorganisms that can both boost & impact our overall health

What Leads to Poor Gut Health?

The biggest takeaway of Gut Health 101? Whatever the problem is, chronic inflammation started it!

Foreign bodies inside our system are known to trigger immune responses. When the responses become reoccurring and constant, inflammation can become chronic.

Pathogens enter our system in many ways, including:

  • Eating Foods Contaminated with Pesticides or Bad Bacteria 

  • Continuously Poor Food Choices like Sugar and Trans Fat

  • Eating Foods That Trigger Food Allergies, Celiac Disease, etc.

  • Nutrient Deficiency Caused By Poor Diet or Illness 

  • Toxins Re-Entering Our Bloodstream From Our Waste 

  • Wearing Cosmetics Made with Synthetic Ingredients

  • Long-Term Use of Medications 

  • Breathing in Toxic Chemicals and Heavy Metals

  • Underlying Stress like Bills, Work, Relationships 

  • Catching an Illness From Another Person

There are many ways to enter the body, but there is one way out. As pathogens enter the system, gravity takes over. These pathogens enter from pores, your mouth, or the respiratory tract. Inevitably, they drop down into the gut, where they can either get flushed out or eventually ignite inflammation.

Chronic Inflammation and an Unhealthy Gut

Just as all disease begins in the gut, inflammation is the root of all disease. All germs, viruses, or food that comes into the body ends up entering the digestive tract. Our body is either trying to get all the nutrients out of this potential energy source or attempting to get it out of the system. 

Our immune system has a “better safe than sorry” approach. Its innate immune function is to cause inflammation. The innate immune system rids the body of the potential issue, and then curtails the inflammation when the threat goes away [2]. 

Unfortunately, threats become more common as we age. The once-booming metabolism we used to enjoy starts to slow down. Eventually, poor dietary choices, inflammatory foods, and other toxins begin to have a cumulative effect on the system. 

Chronic Diseases Associated with Chronic Inflammation 

The overarching lesson Gut Health 101 is that leaving your gut unhealthy is a precursor for many illnesses. Over time, our digestive issues may begin to worsen. They’ll start to coincide with other symptoms of an unhealthy gut. 

Inevitably, you may develop issues pertaining to :

  • Immune System (Allergies, Food Intolerances, Colds, Flu)

  • Leaky Gut Syndrome

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)/Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)

  • Other Digestive Issues (Inflammatory Bowel Disease [IBD], Heartburn, Bloating, Constipation)

  • Weight Gain

  • Skin Conditions (Acne, Rosacea, Psoriasis)

  • Autoimmune Diseases

  • Mental Health (Depression, Anxiety, Mood Swings)

  • Poor Sleep

The reason for these issues is that your immune system becomes overworked by chronic inflammation. That leaves your body more susceptible to pathogenic overgrowth. Plus, chronic inflammation starts to destroy healthy gut bacteria. This battle for survival all takes place in an internal community known as the microbiome.

What is the Gut Microbiome?

Your stomach is home to trillions of microscopic living beings known as microbes. There are thousands of different microbes identified by science and probably will be more discovered for centuries to come [3]. 

Get to know yourself inside and out!

However, the most common types of gut microbiota are:

  • Yeast

  • Fungi

  • Bacteria

  • Archaea

  • Protists

Of the bunch, gut bacteria are the most abundant and studied. Science has confirmed that there are hundreds of bacteria strains. Each plays a specific role in the internal ecosystem that is the gut microbiome. 

Common Gut Flora in the Microbiome

The dominant bacteria phylums typically found in the body fall within the following groups:

  • Firmicutes

  • Bacteroidetes

  • Actinobacteria

  • Proteobacteria 

Around 90% generally fall specifically within the Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes phyla.

The usual suspects inside the gut microbiome

All of these commensal bacteria work together for optimal health of its host — you! They all work in unison, applying the crafts that are their specialties. 

The Importance of Gut Bacteria Diversity 

It seems like every bacteria has a role. Even Staphylococcus aureus, the bacteria strain behind the potentially life-threatening staph infection, can help keep other opportunistic Staphylococcus strains