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What IS the gut microbiome?

 Its a term we hear often, and we certainly all have one, so what is a gut microbiome? Our gut microbiome is simply the collection of microbes in our gut. For children, I like to explain simply that we have good guys and bad guys in our tummies, and we need more good guys to fight off any bad bugs we may come into contact with. And if we get too many bad guys, they can lead to tummy trouble, toilet trouble, sleep, anxiety and concentration issues. It pretty generally is that simple.

Gut microbes inside a gut micribiome.

Have you ever known a family who seems to get gastro bugs more than usual? They will complain that someone in their house has “caught” another gastro bug, 2nd time this year!! We need to think about those guts- obviously handwashing can make a difference, but beyond this, generally speaking all of us with children are exposed to a similar amount of pathogens each year.

So its about the strength of our systems to make short work of this- you may just feel slightly off or feel nothing at all, but rest assured you will have some nasty bugs enter your system more than you think, and your “good guys” just get to work to stamp this out quick smart. If you have a shortage of these guys, a bad bug can really take hold and make you ill. Some bacteria fight inflammation, while others promote it.

When the gut works as it should, these two types work in harmony. But when that delicate ecosystem is compromised, inflammatory bacteria can take over— and they can produce metabolites that pass through the lining of the gut and into the bloodstream, spreading the inflammation to other parts of the body.

This is what we call Intestinal Permeability or “Leaky Gut”. The lovely hair-like villi that line the gut normally pass food from one to another, as well as line the tight junctions of the gut wall. When the balance becomes shot, they can lay down or even disappear. These tight junctions become vulnerable, they no longer are so tight, and proteins can pass through, bouncing around our blood stream setting up inflammation, and even contributing to brain fog and anxiety.

Specific types of bacteria in the gut can lead to other conditions as well. Animal and human studies have linked some bacteria to lower immune function; others to greater risk of asthma and allergies; and even more to chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and some cancers to unfortunately name a few. You may be aware that Gut health has been heavily linked both anxiety and depression, and also to neurological conditions like schizophrenia and dementia.

This is because of the GBA or Gut-Brain Axis, and considering we now know that a huge percentage of Neurotransmitters like serotonin (designed to help us feel balanced and happy) from within the gut, it’s no wonder that even a small imbalance can make all the difference.

One of the first questions I ask a parent if they describe allergies, intolerances or ezcema as part of their child's issues is "Would you say they tend to experience anxiety?" And the answer is frequently yes. It's no coincidence- these gut issues drive all of the above so speaking in general terms, an allergy prone person will often be an anxiety prone person too.

If any of this sounds familiar or you would just like to learn more, please get in touch or book your Free 20 Minute Zoom consultation.

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