Body Wisdom

Guardians of the human body – Microbiome Part 1

If you love riding the giant rollercoasters, you will also love going through this journey through your GUT – Gastrointestinal tract. If you are tired of living with unexplained symptoms like migraines, brain fog, memory loss, tremors, bloating, constipation, auto-immune issues like Rheumatoid arthritis, Multiple sclerosis, skin disorders, hashimoto's, Vitiligo, IBS, Leaky Gut, Lupus, celiac disease, depression and a host of other issues with no answers from doctors, then join me to unravel the mystery of our friends- an invisible colony protecting us – the MICROBIOME.

Our wild ancestors

Our ancestors had a symbiotic relationship with microbes. They were generous hosts to multiple strains of bacteria, virus, parasites, worms and other unknown invisible creatures and evolved with them. This, in turn, contributed to their health. Their major threats were only wild animals or lack of food unlike the thousands of diseases that haunt us today.

Urbanization has definitely improved our livesbut also wiped out the symbiotic relationship of microbes with us. Overuse of soaps, detergents, antibiotics, steroids, chlorination and adding fluorides to water supply mains, processed foods with pesticides and hormones have super sanitized our lifestyle giving birth to newer diseases like asthma, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension & obesity to name a few. It is a result of our wrong lifestyles that has led us to what we are today. Despite the luxuries we have created for ourselves, we live in a constant state of stress; we can’t rest well and diseases take a long time to heal.

Let’s know our friends – Meet your Microbiome (MB)

Back in the 1600s, Anton van Leeuwenhoek discovered little microbes in his dental plaque under a microscope. But it has taken us a few centuries to figure out they were friends and not foe. There are 100 trillion microbes (Bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa and worms) living IN and ON us in every nook and corner. We are majorly microbiome than humans. They play a role in our physical and emotional wellness and our fate is tied to their well-being. Hence, we can’t live without them.

We are a human-microbial ecosystem, a reflection of the human-microbial DNA mix that makes each of us unique. We are a part of the common ecosystem - EARTH. They cover our skin; they are in our GUT and they play a very large role in our emotional, mental and physical health. There is so much information exchange happening in the background between the MB and human cells in terms of gut health or hormones that science has only unravelled a small percentage of that.

The GI tract

Our gastrointestinal tract( GI Tract or GUT) is a long tube of about 25-30 ft long starting at the mouth and ending at the anus. About 70% of our health depends on the quality of the GUT.
Inflammation is the mother of all diseases and starts right in the GUT.

For the nutrients in the food we eat to reach the organs, the food needs to convert to a state where it can permeate through the walls(epithelial lining) of the tube and reach the carriers like blood. The internal lining of the GI tract filters what goes into the bloodstream.

Our entire environment gets filtered through this microbiome and gets transformed by these before they affect our human body.

Functions of the MB

  • The main function of the microbiome (MB) is to keep us safe from invaders and diseases, communicate and signal to the brain and keep a balanced environment to guard the kingdom.
  • MB breaks down the foods and determines what gets absorbed vs excreted by releasing molecules that the human cells can use.
  • They produce many enzymes that the body cannot make by itself.
  • They turn on and off the genes too.
  • The food we eat, the air we breathe and even thoughts get filtered and intercepted by them before it reaches to impact us in a positive or a negative way.

In exchange, we play host, we give them what they need to eat and they depend on us for their survival. Hence it’s extremely important to keep ourselves healthy; we must keep them healthy.

Let's take an in-depth look at the role of MB in some important functions

  • Birthing – In many cases kids born naturally may not be as sick often as the kids born by c-sec.A new born’s GUT health depends on whether it was born via a c-sec or normal delivery, breastfed or formula-fed, quality of the bio-diversity of the past generation’s gut and the food introduced to the body of the baby after birth. The MB prepares the baby’s intestinal tract to close all leaks that can potentially cause harm to the baby. In the womb, there are gaps in the GUT to ensure that there was a way for nutrition to reach the baby’s bloodstream. After birth, the baby’s gut has to start working so nutrition enters the bloodstream. The first exposure of bacteria in the vaginal tract will tend to first close the gaps in the intestinal tract of the baby to avoid a leaky gut. The first colostrum is fed (yellow fluid of the mother’s milk), to majorly feed the MB in the gut. They, in turn, regulate hunger, the needs of the body and creates a stronger defense system. Over time, after a couple of years of setting up the baby’s fortress, they will no longer need Mother’s milk and MB is now strong enough to face other external foods and process it in the GI Tract. It then does not release any more molecules to digest milk. This ends the phase where the baby will ever need milk from the mother. This early exposure to the mother’s MB is very important for a healthy GUT in childhood.
  • Defense against cancer - When the MB colony digests our food, they produce short-chain fatty acids that are chemotherapeutic and kills cancerous cells in the body. Studies say that everyone produces cancer cells constantly and the body’s defense system addresses that on a regular basis.
  • Mental health - GUT health affects our mood and memory too. Studies say that MB also helps in preventing degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementia or other neurological conditions.
  • I am unique - A family can have unique bio-diversity in their GUT due to various lifestyle changes in the way they eat, think, feel, drink, exposure to the environments, their initial diversity ratios etc. Hence, some people in the family can have diseases and others won’t although they may be eating the same foods.
  • I can change, but still be unique - A person living in Africa with a certain GUT flora can be entirely different when he moves to America. The bio-diversity we were born with is not the same as today or last year or even yesterday. Every single lifestyle change can impact flora positively or negatively. It’s a highly dynamic, and a constantly changing garden.
  • Bodyweight – The condition when bad bacteria increase due to a bad lifestyle is called Dysbiosis. This can cause obesity or leanness depending on how they breakdown the foods. Yeast ‘overgrowth’ for example, can cause sugar and starch cravings which eventually leads to weight gain. People sometimes have difficulty losing weight until the balance is restored by a clean diet.
  • I don’t crave; my microbes do –The article “Is Eating Behavior Manipulated by the gastrointestinal Microbiota? Evolutionary Pressures and Potential Mechanisms” published in the October 2014 issue of the journal BioEssays details the role of the microbiomes in controlling our thoughts too. When someone craves for the wrong foods, its not always lack of willpower, but it’s a wicked bacterium releasing a certain molecule that can affect the brain, including our hormones like serotonin that can make us feel good after having certain foods that it needs for its survival. Studies also say that they can change our taste receptors to suit the need which explains why people who love coffee with dairy end up disliking it after adopting a plant-based lifestyle. The good and bad are constantly fighting for survival in the human GUT. Carlos Mayley PhD, one of the authors of BioEssays, in his article “From the microbe’s perspective, what we eat is a matter of life and death” explains why we feel powerless to resist certain foods because we may not be the ones making that decision.

In Part 2 of this article, we look at how our lifestyle can impact MB and in turn, cause ailments. In Part 3, we'll learn how microbiomes are guardians of human body.

(About myself: Formerly I was with the IT industry for 2 decades and also have my own venture on healthy vegan baking. I have suffered life-threatening allergies and survived twice. I learnt to heal naturally and applied the same on both my kids aged 13 &10. We as a family live a healthy, disease-free lifestyle. Based on my experience and what I have gained from reading, I help others in reversing their ailments naturally and holistically.)

Disclaimer: The health journeys, blogs, videos and all other content on Wellcure is for educational purposes only and is not to be considered a ‘medical advice’ ‘prescription’ or a ‘cure’ for diseases. Any specific changes by users, in medication, food & lifestyle, must be done under the guidance of licensed health practitioners. The views expressed by the users are their personal views and Wellcure claims no responsibility for them.

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