This is such a hot topic right now – and for good reason. The gut microbiome is a term used to describe the incredible ecosystem that lives in our large intestine (but in fact we have microbiomes also in the mouth, nose, lungs, vagina, and skin).
Our gut plays host to some 100 trillion microbes – and these form around 80% of our immune system (also known as GALT – gut associated lymphoid tissue). There are thousand of species of bacteria in the microbiome, both good and bad – and new ones are being discovered all the time.The gut microbiome can almost be considered as an organ – it produces hormones, breaks down food, and weighs as much as the liver (approximately 2-3kg).
Some of the many functions of the gut microbiome are to
- produce vitamins
- synthesise short chain fatty acids
- chelate heavy metals for excretion
- create anti parasitic and anti fungal effects
- regulate our immunity
- produce satiety factors, so it’s linked to obesity
- affect mental and emotional well being by producing neurotransmitters
- metabolise cholesterol
- regulate gut health to prevent leaky gut
“So it stands to reason that when this fragile but vital microbiome is not fed, nourished and cared for, there will be far reaching effects on the rest of the body.“
Reasons to do a Microbiome Test
Doing a stool test can tell us so much about our overall health. The bacteria in our gut are central players in determining our overall health. We are more bacteria than DNA. In fact our DNA cells could fit into our big toe and everything else in us is bacteria! So it really does rule the show!
- DIGESTION – bloating, gas, diarrhoea, constipation, food intolerances, nausea. This test will look at whether we are digesting our food well and extracting the nutrients from it. Is our pancreas releasing sufficient enzymes to break down our food? Is our gallbladder releasing enough bile to emulsify fats?
- BACTERIA – what is our balance of good to bad bacteria. Is there enough of the good to keep the bad at bay? If not, do we need a probiotic? Not a broad spectrum off the shelf one. But a targeted one to replenish what’s missing! Is there an infection, parasites or candida? Once we know what bacteria your microbiome needs we can be more accurate with which probiotics to give. Flooding the microbiome with the wrong probiotic strain can upset this delicate balance.
- IMMUNITY – around 70% of our immune system resides in our gut! This test will show our gut immunity markers, and balancing the good/bad bacteria will go a long way to improving this.
- SKIN – the external condition of our skin is a reflection of the internal state of our gut. There’s a real gut-skin axis so any problems in the gut can show themselves in the skin. Particularly inflammation and bacterial or yeast overgrowth can be linked to eczema, psoriasis, acne, fungal infections. Again these markers will show on a stool test.
- AUTOIMMUNE CONDITIONS – these can also be linked to our gut. Particularly when there’s an element of leaky gut whereby particles of food, bacteria or toxins get out of the gut and into the bloodstream. This triggers an immune response and therefore inflammation. This can travel anywhere in the body. To the skin (eczema), the joints (arthritis), or contribute to inflamed arteries, headaches, migraines, allergies, hay fever
- HORMONES – the bacteria in our gut help to excrete our used hormones. But when we have too many bad bacteria, they can release an enzyme that actually sends recycled and used estrogen, ready for excretion, back into the body leading to estrogen dominance and hormone imbalance. Again rebalancing our bacteria means we can help to improve our hormonal symptoms.
- MENTAL HEALTH – many of our neurotransmitters are made in the gut and sent to the brain. For example 90% of serotonin (happy hormone often found to be decreased in sufferers of anxiety and depression) is made in the gut. So again we want the right bacteria in our gut to produce these happy hormones.
So it’s clear that this kind of testing is totally invaluable to all areas of our overall health. I have many clients who come to me having tried everything and seen many experts, but are still suffering symptoms, or just managing their symptoms, but haven’t found the root cause. Once we do a stool test we find out what’s going on and implement a bespoke program. This may include removing pathogens, replacing good bacteria, healing the gut lining and supporting gut immunity. The turnaround is life changing.
If this is something you’re interested in exploring, please feel free to get in touch with me.