Taking Care of Your Microbiome

How to Properly Take Care of Your Gut Microbiome

Your microbiome is what we call the diverse “ecosystem” that exists within your body… 

Trillions upon trillions of microorganisms, all coexisting, and having a huge effect on your overall health and well-being…

This invisible system plays an incredibly important role in everything from your immunity and digestion… to your thoughts, feelings and emotions.

It fights carcinogens and generates vitamins, nutrients and neurotransmitters

And while most of the microbes living in our body work together for our good, scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health have found…

How we take care of our body may trigger some microbes to become pathogenic – or dangerous and disease-causing. 

That said, here are some practical, everyday tips for you on how to take good care of your microbiome so it can take care of you:

1. Avoid Processed Food

According to researchers, processed foods that are high in fat and sodium lead to a reduced microbiome. 

Not only do they lack the nutrients for microbiomes to thrive… eating high calorie  processed food also leads to unwanted weight gain.

2. Increase Your Fiber Intake to Achieve Microbiome Balance in the Gut

Research says that a high-fiber diet is the key to maintaining a good balance in your gut microbiome. They recommend a fiber intake of 30 grams per day…

More than improving your gut health, a high-fiber microbiome diet helps you lose weight. High-fiber foods make you feel fuller because they take longer to digest.

The fuller you feel, the less food you’ll want to eat. Fiber also helps stimulate digestion.

3. Eat Foods Rich in Probiotics to Keep Microbiomes Robust

Probiotics contain live culture bacteria and reinvigorate the microbiomes in your body.

These probiotics can typically be found in fermented food…

However, not all fermented foods contain live cultures. Beer, wine, and soy sauce are too processed for good bacteria to live in them.

4. Eat Prebiotic-Rich Foods to Help Achieve Good Microbiome Balance

More than probiotics, prebiotics are also beneficial in maintaining good microbiome balance in your body.

Prebiotics Definition: Prebiotics are substances that serve as nutrients for the microbiome within the human body. 

According to research, prebiotics help microorganisms in the body metabolize nutrients to promote the human body’s well-being.

More than improving gut health, prebiotics also help in lowering cholesterol and preventing diabetes. 

Numerous studies also pointed out that prebiotics contribute to maintaining metabolic health, skin health, and maintaining immune function.

Prebiotics are commonly found in certain soluble fermentable fibers and dietary fibers. Here are a few examples:

  • Chicory Root (65% of fiber by weight)
  • Jerusalem Artichoke, or earth apple (31.5%)
  • Garlic (17.5%)
  • Onions (8.6%)
  • Leek (11.7%)
  • ​Asparagus (5.0%)
  • Wheat Bran (5.0%)​
  • Wheat Flour (4.8%)​

5. Add Polyphenol-Rich Superfoods into Your Diet to Better Absorb Prebiotics

A number of studies have claimed that polyphenols balance the gut microbiomes to contribute to overall gut health. 

Polyphenols contribute to microbiomes by allowing them to absorb prebiotics better.

Polyphenols Definition: Polyphenols are compounds commonly found in medicinal herbs and dietary plants. 

Foods containing high polyphenol content are highly sought after because of their antioxidant effects.

More than contributing to gut health, polyphenols are also proposed to be a natural aid to treating inflammation according to some studies.

6. Consider Taking Supplements for Better Health

If you aren’t into Kimchi and Kombucha, you may find it difficult to incorporate probiotics into your diet… 

Taking probiotic supplements may be a better option, and there are other supplements that work alongside them to support your microbiome:

  • Take probiotic supplements to feed your body with good bacteria.
  • Add magnesium supplements to activate your digestive system.
  • Drink fish oil supplements to keep gut microbiomes healthy.

7. Give Intermittent Fasting a Try to Preserve Gut Health

A few studies have concluded that intermittent fasting positively impacts gut microbiomes. 

There’s a reason why this diet has become one of the trendiest fitness regimes.

Fasting increases microbiome diversity in the colon. 

As a result, fasting leads to a more robust body by preserving gut health.

Other than maintaining microbiome balance, intermittent fasting also helps with weight loss, enhanced immunity, increased longevity, and overall improved health. 

The basic concept behind intermittent fasting is to split your schedule into times for eating and times for fasting.

There are many ways to do intermittent fasting:

  • 16/8 Method: This method requires focusing your eating period to only 8 hours within the day and fasting for the remaining 16 hours. For example, you can start eating at 9:00 AM and start fasting by 5:00 PM. If you’re not a breakfast person, you can also opt to start eating at 12:00 PM and stop food intake by 8:00 PM.
  • 5:2 Diet: This way of intermittent fasting means that you’ll fast for two days and eat normally for the other five days. Fasting for two days means consuming only 25% of your daily calorie needs. So if you consume 1,600 calories normally for five days, then you should only consume 400 calories per day for the other two days.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat Method: The basics of this method is fasting 20 to 24 hours once or twice a week. For example, you can eat normally for the next six days until 8:00 PM on the sixth day. Then, stop eating after 8:00 PM. You will then resume eating by 8:00 PM the next day.

As we take care of the microorganisms in our body, we take care of ourselves. My hope is that you can now take action to achieve microbiome balance in your body to improve your overall health.

Is it Really Acid Reflux?

Is it Really Acid Reflux?

Let’s take a closer look at the use (or overuse) of proton pump inhibitors, and the dilemma they create by not addressing the real root of the problem. Proton pump inhibitors are often prescribed for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).  GERD, whose symptoms include chest pain, chronic cough, sleep disturbances, and hoarseness, is characterized by too much stomach acid production, causing it to reflux into the esophagus. Treatment with proton pump inhibitors is used by many in order to suppress acid secretion in the stomach.

But proton pump inhibitors may not be the solution. Why?  Well, we typically do not produce more hormones, insulin, and enzymes as we age. The truth is that most body processes decrease as we age. Most people suffering with symptoms of acid reflux or GERD may actually be experiencing hypochlorhydria or too little acid, which is when the stomach is unable to produce adequate amounts of hydrochloric acid (HCL).

People with low stomach acid levels commonly have symptoms of gas, bloating, flatulence, and constipation or diarrhea. This low acid environment slows digestion. The protein in their food sits in the stomach and putrefies instead of digesting. The sphincter between the stomach and small intestine delays opening because the protein is not properly broken down into peptides due to the insufficient HCL production. The small intestine does not want whole proteins; instead it needs the amino acids from the broken down proteins. This faulty digestive process is associated with low, not high, hydrochloric acid. These acids back flow into the esophagus causing the pain we know as acid reflux.

The barrier that prevents HCL from traveling from your stomach up into your esophagus is called the esophageal sphincter. The cause of this sphincter dysfunction is inadequate levels of HCL. Since normal acid levels help prevent infection in your gut as well as enhance absorption of vitamins and minerals, supplementation with Betaine Hydrochloride will help to support these normal acid levels.  There are numerous companies making Betaine Hydrochloride supplements.  Standard Process first introduced its Betaine Hydrochloride way back in 1947!

Additional supplements may be needed to improve digestive function such as Probiotics and Glutamine. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL)  is a soothing herb which helps relax the esophageal sphincter and protects the gastric mucosa and mucous membranes lining the digestive tract.

The bacterium Helicobacter pylori is a major cause of gastritis. The nutrients Mastic Gum, Methylmethionessulfonium, Zinc Carnosine, and Vitamin C address both eradication of H. pylori and the healing and protection of inflamed mucosal tissue.

Natural treatments offer a more effective approach than what is provided by proton pump inhibitors. In addition, proton pump inhibitors can induce several nutrient deficiencies including calcium, potassium, and magnesium. They also may cause serious neuromuscular and cardiovascular problems and increase the chance of hip fracture in people over 50 years of age.

Note:  I spent a career on this issue.  Just know Antacids are not the answer because the issue is NOT TOO MUCH ACID, but TOO Little.  My post on HCL Deficiency and Proton Pump Inhibitors will provide a plethora of information and answers.

Call or write me and we will figure it out!

E-Coli Proliferates in IBD

Inflammatory Bowel Disease = E-Coli

Researchers at Penn State University identified a mechanism in which Escherichia coli proliferates in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) during flare-ups.

Some strains of E. coli are normal, healthy bacteria that compose part of the predominant flora in the gastrointestinal tract. In some patients with inflammatory bowel diseases, researchers have found that the healthy E. coli may proliferate during a flare-up and further contribute to the patient’s symptoms and progression of the disease.

There are several types of inflammatory bowel diseases where opportunistic E. coli bacteria proliferates in the gut. IBD, which primarily includes Chrohn’s  nd ulcerative colitis, involves chronic inflammation of all or part of the gastrointestinal tract.

Here is an example of this situation in one of my patients with Chrohn’s  disease.

The mechanisms by which this occurs with E. coli is not well understood. Identifying these mechanisms will help to reduce the E. coli burden on the inflamed gut and prevent chronic diseases often associated with IBD, such as musculoskeletal and dermatological conditions.

Researchers studied the interactions between enterobactin, myeloperoxidase, and lipocalin 2 and how they regulate E. coli in the gastrointestinal tract. Enterobactin (Ent) is a chemical secreted by E. coli that takes iron from host proteins in the body and aids in the growth of E. coli. Myeloperoxidase (MPO) is an antibacterial protein that white blood cells produce to kill bacteria. However, enterobactin inhibits myeloperoxidase from doing this.

Another protein produced by white blood cells, Lipocalin 2 (Lcn2), collects the enterobactin so that the bacteria cannot obtain enough iron for their survival. The researchers found that Lcn2 can counteract the effects of Ent on MPO.

E. coli can be harmful under certain circumstances commonly seen in inflammatory bowel disease. This new study has defined a defense mechanism used by E. coli.

Bacteriophages can be a great option here. They are not very well known but are one of the most abundant naturally-occurring organisms on earth. They can be found everywhere from the soil to drinking water. They only prey on bacteria, never human cells, and the bacteria have a difficult time becoming resistant to them.  Phages are great because they are species specific – meaning different strains attack different bacteria. This makes them harmless to human cells and even to non-targeted bacteria. This is much different than antibiotics that can wipe out all the beneficial bacteria of the gastrointestinal tract along with the harmful bacteria. Phages are classified as prebiotics, and there are specific phages that can infect and inhibit the growth of E. coli only. Lytic phages are completely safe and considered GRAS (through review of published scientific literature, and based on their common use in food).