Why Your Gut Health May be the Missing Link to Optimal Health and Fat Loss – ‘The Microbime’
Posted on 10th May 2016 at 13:36
Diving deeply into the world of the 'Microbime' to help you understand how to get this metabolism boosting ecosystem on your side!
Have you ever looked at a person nearby eating ‘crap’ and thought ‘How are you still looking so fit and lean?’ Well, rest assured that their meal defiantly isn’t healthy; so how do they not gain fat? Bacteria! Some 90% of our body is made up of bacteria and so is not actually ‘human’. What if I then told you that this 90% might be the key to long term maintainable fat loss?
The microbime is a miniature world made up of trillions of microscopic, non-human organisms that flourish within your Intestinal tract. Over the last few years there has been huge scientific breakthroughs that have brought to light how these intestinal organisms (bacteria) help digest your food to ensure that you get all the nourishment you need, govern your appetite, control your metabolism, orchestrate your immune system, produce crucial vitamins and other nutrients, influence your mood, and even help determine how your genes are expressed!
To date, researchers have identified 10 thousand species of bacteria that could potentially live within us. However, the bacterial make-up of our intestines is as unique to us as our fingerprint, even identical twins have been shown to have a different microbial microbime makeup. This is the reason for our metabolic diversity and uniqueness. Although having a collective weight of some 3lbs, this effectively making the ‘2nd brain’ in our gut (the enteric nervous system) , about the same weight as your brain.
So how do we get our microbime?
Well it turns out we can thank our mothers for more than just half of her genes because we actually get our microbime from our mothers at birth.
We are born totally sterile, and are smothered in out mother’s microbial fluid as we pass through the birth canal. This fluid is made up of all the good bacteria needed to help the baby grow strong and protect it from the outside world by creating a strong internal immune system. It’s worth noting that during pregnancy the mothers own microbime shifts towards a bacterial balance that extracts more nutrients from food, logical as the growing baby needs more nutrients from its mother.
This microbime shift can lead to gut inflammation causing expectant mothers to suffer from diarrhoea and cramps during their 3rd trimester.
This bacterial ‘colonisation’ of new born babies by their mother’s bacteria is like a desert island that has just risen from the sea. Over time flora (bacteria) will populate the island making it hospitable, flourish and able to sustain life, the same way the maternal microbime colonises the childs’ body and making it a bacterial paradise that promotes good bacterial growth.
But what if you are born by C-section? These babies tend to have the makeup of adult skin, courtesy of the initial contact with the nurse. Consequently, babies born by C-Section are now being smeared with their mother’s vaginal fluid to help mimic the birthing process and flood the body with the mother’s essential bacteria. Sadly, babies who haven’t been so fortunate may never recover and share the full bacterial diversity enjoyed by naturally birthed babies.
So how does the microbime help us keep off the fat?
Well, the microbime harvests the calories you eat, extracts essential nutrients, helps digest your food and decides whether you are hungry or not. It also regulates your metabolism and so determines whether you store or burn fat. Have you ever developed an insatiable craving for sugar? You eventually you give up and have some chocolate, but what if you only craved the sugar because your microbime did? When unbalanced, the selfish microbime will overpower you with cravings, will slow down your metabolism, increase your appetite and, ultimately, turn you into a fat storing machine. On the other hand a balanced microbime full of flourishing good bacteria will keep you feeling hungry and full at the right times and, more importantly, cut the cravings and rev-up your metabolism!
The biggest microbime disrupter are antibiotics. Antibiotics are fantastic for killing bacteria that make us sick, but they also wipe out the innocent good guys. Antibiotics are like a nuclear bomb, taking-out everything in sight. More advanced products are more like snipers, targeting the bad guys, but these aren’t readily available or prescribed. This nuclear bomb effect paves the way for bad opportunistic bacteria to overgrow and prevent the good guys from doing their job. Over time chronic antibiotic use will cause the bad bacteria you are trying to kill to become resistant to it leading to only the good guys being killed.
So it’s all doom and gloom, particularly for C-section babies and antibiotic users? Well no, fortunately the lifespan of a microbe found in your microbime is only about 20 minutes. This means that you have tremendous control over the health of your microbime and within 24 hours you can totally rebalance your microbime enabling you to control appetite, cravings and metabolism – but be warned that this is not as straight forward as it sounds, and if you have a huge bacterial imbalance or a parasite this could take many weeks to kill off and rebalance, and while it’s still out of balance your microbime doesn’t have this luxury 24 hour rebalance power. This will be covered in the next 2 articles.
So how can we get our microbime firing on all cylinders and get ourselves craving free?
Here are my top 3 tips for getting your microbime back under control.
1) Prebiotic– we have all heard of probiotics, but whats the difference? Think of probiotics as tourists on an island (microbime), when they are there its great but they are very short lived, and without them the island would grind to a halt. Prebiotics however are like a strong community being placed on the island with good jobs, happy homes and great entertainment. Prebiotics set the stage for a good microbime and are critical for keeping the island running.
Prebiotics are simply fibre that the body can’t break down and digest, so the bacteria in out gut do it for us, they love the stuff and it helps them stay alive and in return they give us nutrients from their waste products. If you can’t handle fibre then this is a sign of a bacterial imbalance that will be covered in the next article.
2) Probiotics – as I mentioned in the point above these guys are like the tourists. This isn’t a bad thing as tourists help a strong community flourish and help it expand. Taking probiotics from yoghurt however might not be enough. If you have a serious gut bacterial imbalance you will need to take stronger dosage probiotics that can really help flood the poor community with thriving tourism to try and turn it around.
3) Avoid fake food and eat more real food – frankenfoods as I like to call them (foods that our great great grandparents wouldn’t recognize if they came to dinner).
These have been shown to negatively alter the gut microbime.
In the world of convenience we live in where these poor quality foods are so cheap and readily available is it any wonder that the bacterial diversity is decreasing?
Replace these junk foods with whole foods (foods that rot and go off if you leave them out too long, not that last 4 months in the cupboard) and even start to add in fermentable foods such as sauerkraut, raw yogurt, kefir, kombucha & Kimchi as these are nature’s own probiotic and will help support your gut with the right kind of bacteria!
Be warned however that some people don’t handle fermentable foods very well, and we will find out why next week!
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