Intestinal microbiome: How does it affect your body?
The human body contains trillions of microorganisms. In fact, we have more bacteria than cells. And most of them live in our gastrointestinal system!
The bacteria that constitute the "intestinal microbiome" not only help the digestion of the food we consume but affect the whole body and ultimately are proved to be beneficial for both our physical and mental health. In the intestinal microbiome, the "good" bacteria keep the "bad" under control. In what way? With the frequent proliferation, they cover the available space, so the "bad" bacteria cannot grow. But what happens when "bad" bacteria seem to prevail?
Research showed that when there are many bacteria of a certain species in the gut microbiome, we are more likely to get Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and colitis. We should realize that the intestinal microbiome affects our body both as a whole and specifically in many different ways.
Microbiome and heart
Some types of intestinal bacteria may play a role in the relationship between cholesterol and heart disease. When you eat foods like red meat or eggs, these bacteria secrete a chemical that your liver converts into what is called TMAO (N trimethylamine oxide). TMAO helps in the deposition of cholesterol in the walls of blood vessels. Researchers are studying a substance called DMB which is found in olive oil and may block the production of TMAO by certain bacteria.
Microbiome and kidneys
The excessive presence of TMAO, however, can also lead to chronic kidney disease. People with the disease can not eliminate the substance, which is over-concentrated and leads to heart disease. Scientists indicate that people with elevated TMAO are more prone to kidney disease.
Microbiome and brain
The brain sends messages throughout our body and there is current evidence that the gut ... responds. Studies have shown that the balance of bacteria in the gut microbiome affects not only our emotions but also the way the brain processes information from our senses, i.e. sounds, smells, tastes, and textures. In fact, there is evidence that changes in this balance may play a role in diseases such as autism spectrum disorders, depression, and chronic pain.
Microbiome and obesity
An imbalance in the intestinal microbiome sends contradictory messages to the brain about when we are hungry and when we are satiated. Researchers believe that it has to do with the pituitary gland producing hormones that help to control appetite. This gland can also affect the balance of bacteria in our gut, so a lot of research on obesity and on the ways we could treat it is focused on the gut microbiome.
Can we alter the intestinal bacteria?
The intestinal microbiome of each individual is acquired from the mother during birth. In the course of life, the microbiome is influenced by environmental factors and diet. For this reason, it varies from person to person depending on the place we live and our lifestyle, but also that’s why we can intervene and alter it. How does it happen? With probiotics, prebiotics, symbiotic food combinations. For example, aged cheeses, yogurt, and pickles are good sources of probiotics. Respectively, good sources of prebiotics are banana, onion, garlic, leek, asparagus, artichokes, etc. By making combinations of these foods (such as banana with yogurt) you can succeed in acquiring symbiotics.
What are the researchers studying for?
In addition to diet, scientists try to investigate other ways to intervene in the intestinal microbiome in order to improve our lives. One of them is fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) which has already been performed with great success in mice and humans.
Why do I need to know about the condition of my gut microbiome?
More and more people are looking for solutions to chronic health problems that the daily practice of medicine can only deal with the symptoms of them and cannot treat them etiologically. Irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, food intolerances, autoimmune diseases, chronic inflammation, depression, and other very serious health problems can find a permanent solution as long as we examine the bacteria species that live in our gastrointestinal tract.
Diagnostiki Athinon is the first laboratory in Greece that is specialized in intestinal microbiome examination, with EnteroScan®, a unique group of laboratory tests that analyze the intestinal microbiome and its functions. It is worthwhile to give yourself the opportunity to get meaningful answers to serious and chronic health problems that concern you or to prevent the onset of such diseases!
Learn more about EnteroScan® with a phone call to 210-7777654!