Is Your Gut to Blame for your Health issues?

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Whether you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, losing the last 10 lbs, the common cold or even mental illness, your gut microbiome is actually the root of these issues. What many people do not know is that your gastrointestinal system (aka your gut) is responsible for a properly functioning digestive system, immune system, hormone regulation, vitamin and mineral absorption and even your brain and mental health. The bacteria produced in the gut, your gut flora, is critical to regulating and keeping all these systems healthy. 

HOW HEALTHY IS YOUR GUT?

The gut microbiome is collection of microorganisms and different types of bacteria that determine whether pathogens coexist peacefully or will cause disease. This mini ecosystem within the body is developed at infancy. The gut is a perfect, blank slate until it comes into contact with other microorganisms. Your mother’s birth canal and breast milk, both containing essential gut-nurturing bacteria, will be your first forms of contact. These are the beginning steps in developing a healthy gut microbiome. 

If we start there, it is easy to see how we may be predisposed to having gut issues. Many of us may have been born via C-section rather than vaginally or formula fed instead of breast fed. In addition, during pregnancy, a baby can also be exposed to harmful microorganisms if the mother was on any antibiotics or had an unhealthy gut microbiome herself. These are all common things.

The first three years of life are the most important in developing healthy gut flora. Children under the age of three are often prescribed antibiotics which can disrupt healthy gut flora. Our society’s obsession with sterilizing the home with toxic cleaning products to prevent infants from getting sick is actually harmful to the gut. This increased sanitation disturbs the body’s natural ability to have a diversity in gut microbes. With the increase of antibiotic use, environmental sanitation, formula feeding and C sections, there is a decrease of gut microbiota and again, an increase in autoimmune diseases, obesity, diabetes, allergies, asthma or other issues. 

Using this information can help you understand how your gut flora was created and why you may suffer from certain health issues. When your gut is healthy and functioning optimally, your body will be resilient to fighting disease.

“Good gut bacteria is the new antibiotic.” -Martin Blaser, professor of microbiology at the New York University School of Medicine

Andrea Rodgers