Do your joints and muscles continually ache throughout the day preventing you from enjoying the mobility you may have had before? Does your stomach feel like it is in knots after every meal due to gastrointestinal pain? You may receive prescription medications that help mask the pain you experience, but it seems like nothing you try actually fixes your problem. Rather than looking for that magical pain pill to make all of the aches and pains disappear, it may be time to take a look at the true source of your pain, the gut, and the microbiome.
You may not realize it, but the cells that make up your body are only about 10% human (1). The rest of the cells of your body are composed of microorganisms who are continually interacting with your human cells to either keep you vibrant and healthy or sluggish and sickly. The microbiome of the human body is the ecosystem for numerous species of microorganisms. Bacteria, fungi, archaea, viruses, and other microorganisms are what make up the microbiome that covers the inside and outside of your body. These microorganisms serve different purposes but they all work together and with your body to help you operate in the most efficient manner possible.
The Role of the Microbiome
The microbiome is responsible for aiding in multiple metabolic processes, increasing immunity to a variety of diseases, and has a critical impact on the interaction between your organs (2). When there is a disruption in the balance between “good” and “bad” microbes or certain microbes are dislocated into inappropriate parts of the body, this is when disease is given the opportunity to occur.
Microbiome Associated Disease
There are numerous preventable diseases that are linked to an imbalance in the microbiome including (3):
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (Leaky Gut)
- Allergies (Certain Food Allergies, Pollen Allergies)
- Mental Disorders (Depression, ADD/ADHD, Anxiety, Brain Fog)
- Cancer (Esophagus, Stomach, Colon, Liver, Pancreatic)
- Autoimmune Disease (Type 1 Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis)
When the “bad” bacteria begin to grow and multiply at a rate that the “good” bacteria are unable to compete with, these “bad” bacteria become pathogenic. This initiates an immune response that can cause extensive damage to the organs affected. On the other hand, if the “good” bacteria grow and multiply at a rate to where they drown out the “bad” bacteria, these “good” bacteria can assist your body in operating free from the ailments associated with a weak microbiome.
Microbiome and Digestion
The gut is the mansion of most of the microbes in the body and is typically where microbiome imbalance begins. If there is an imbalance in the digestive system, this is typically the root cause of many diseases related to nutrient deficiency and food allergies.
The human digestive system is only able to break down and absorb so much on its own. With the help of the bacteria present in the intestines, amino acids, both nonessential and essential, are able to be broken down and absorbed into the body to be used for rebuilding tissue. The bacteria also assist in breaking down complex carbohydrates such as starch and cellulose for the body to use as energy. If it weren’t for these helpful bacteria, many of the nutrients we consume on a daily basis would pass right through the digestive system without being absorbed. This is why someone who lacks a healthy amount of good bacteria in the gut may suffer from a nutrient deficiency which can inhibit the body’s ability to create energy and rebuild tissue (4).
Bacteria in the gut also play a role in preventing a leaky gut. Click To Tweet
Bacteria in the gut also play a role in preventing a leaky gut. It has been shown that a certain strain of bacteria, Clostridia, aids in regulating gut permeability (5). This prevents the immune system from having to attack the particles that may enter the gut when certain foods are ingested. The immune response that is initiated by food particles being present in the bloodstream is the reason why many people experience symptoms of certain food allergies. Having a leaky gut can also lead to IBS which amplifies the effects of nutrient deficiency even further. Because the health of the body is greatly impacted by the health of the gut, it is vital that there is a proper balance of microorganisms present in the gut. By strengthening the microbiome to prevent a leaky gut, many of the diseases associated with nutrient deficiency and food allergies can be managed or reversed.
The Contest Within the Microbiome
Commensal bacteria (good bacteria) are able to be maintained in the body without being attacked by the immune system due to the protective layer of mucus that lines various organs in which they reside. When pathogens enter into the same environment as your good bacteria, they have to compete for who will get to remain in the safety of the mucus lining and who will get thrown out to be destroyed by the immune system. If there is already a great amount of commensal bacteria covering the lining of your intestines, it will be hard for the pathogenic bacteria to find a place to attach in order to keep from being swept away into the deadly abyss of the immune system. Commensal bacteria can also take matters into their own hands by releasing bacteriocins to destroy pathogenic bacteria that are in the same species preventing the pathogens from having the chance to colonize.
Conversely, if there is not a well-established population of commensal bacteria within your body, the pathogenic bacteria are able to find places to attach, grow, and multiply, leading to infection. Inflammation is a common immune response used by your body to fight the infection that is caused by the overgrowth of these pathogens. If there is a chronic overgrowth of pathogens, the immune system is going to be continuously working to destroy the pathogens.
How to Rejuvenate the Microbiome For Optimum Health
Now you can see why it is important to maintain and support the healthy bacteria in order to have a body that is functioning at its full potential.
There are simple methods you can incorporate into your everyday life to help maintain the proper balance of the microbiome including:
- Consuming Fermented Foods
- Consuming Fiber
- Supplementation of Prebiotics and Probiotics
- Replacing Artificial Antibiotics
- Eliminating Stress
Step #1: Repopulate the Microbiome With Fermented Foods
It may seem counterintuitive to consume foods that are filled with bacteria, but consuming a small amount of fermented foods each day is one of the most effective methods for building up the ecosystem within your body. Fortunately, incorporating the proper amount of fermented foods into your diet each day does not involve eating an entire plate of sauerkraut for lunch each day. Simply using fermented foods as a condiment with most meals is all it takes to reap the benefits of the probiotics contained within them. Consuming fermented foods does require a bit of a pallet adjustment, but once you find one you like, you will find that you will begin to acquire a taste for other fermented foods and perhaps begin to crave certain fermented foods.
Some common fermented foods that are full of probiotics include:
- Yogurt (Dairy-Free WIth No Added Sugar)
- Coconut Kefir
Step #2: Feed the Microbiome
Foods that are rich in prebiotics such as inulin fiber are essential in the growth of healthy bacteria in the body. You can think of prebiotics as the fertilizers for the soil of the microbiome. They nourish the healthy bacteria in the body allowing them to do their job of aiding in digestion and building the immune system. Inulin fiber is one of the main prebiotics found in many roots of plants. It allows plants to form a commensal relationship with the bacteria in the ground by feeding the bacteria so they can assist the plant in surviving by breaking down nutrients in the soil. Inulin fiber operates in the same manner for the bacteria in your gut by feeding those bacteria so they can help you break down nutrients to be used by your body.
Foods high in prebiotics and inulin fiber include:
- Chicory root
- Dandelion Greens
- Jerusalem Artichokes
By feeding yourself with these foods, you will also be able to feed the bacteria in your gut to aid them in helping you assimilate the nutrients from the food you consumed.
Step #3: Add Prebiotic and Probiotic Supplements
If you don’t feel that you are quite ready to take on fermented foods, probiotic supplements are a great alternative method for obtaining the probiotics you need. Not all probiotic supplements are created equal, however. It is important to pay attention what the probiotic you are purchasing contains before you decide to make your selection. The best probiotics typically contain at least five billion live cultures per serving and have a great variety in the species of bacteria present (6). Be sure to follow the instructions on the bottle for storage in order to prevent from killing the live cultures within the probiotic supplement. The best prebiotic supplements come in capsulated forms of chicory root, dandelion greens, garlic, and fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS). By supplementing both prebiotics and probiotics, you are ensuring that you will be obtaining enough healthy bacteria in your gut along with the fuel necessary to keep them going. For these reasons, these supplements are excellent for coexisting with a diet that is full of healthy fruits, vegetables, and fermented foods to create the optimum environment in your intestines for digestion to occur.
Step #4: Utilize Nature’s Antibiotics
Due to the overuse of antibiotics and antibacterial sanitizers, our microbiome is in jeopardy. Antibiotics are not able to decipher between good and bad bacteria when they are introduced into the human body. Because of this, pathogenic organisms are given the opportunity to colonize in the absence of commensal bacteria. Even though the antibiotic may get rid of an infection caused by one pathogen, it is actually opening the door for another pathogen to rise up and start another infection. As a result of the killing-off of many beneficial bacteria in the gut, antibiotics wreak havoc on the digestive system and bacteria found on the skin causing many adverse side effects such as (7):
- Loss of Appetite
- Sunburning Easily
- Dry, Itchy Skin
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
As a result of the adverse effects of antibiotics, it is best to avoid them whenever possible. Rather than trying to kill pathogenic organisms by introducing toxic chemicals into the body and destroying necessary bacteria as well, try building up your microbiome to be strong enough to fight off these pathogens without any of the side-effects experienced from antibiotics.
As a result of the adverse effects of antibiotics, it is best to avoid them whenever possible. Click To Tweet
There are numerous natural solutions to curing infection by destroying pathogens. High-quality essential oils are created by the extraction of the immune system of plants. Plants use these oils to ward off pests and diseases so they can grow and reproduce effectively. It has been found that these oils can serve the same benefit for humans by applying them to the skin, ingesting them, or vaporizing them for inhalation (8). The list of essential oils is endless but here are a few of the most popular and most effective essential oils and foods for building your immune system while destroying pathogens at the same time without any side effects.
- Lavender Oil (Acne, Respiratory Infection, Relieves Stress)
- Peppermint Oil (Sinus infection, Respiratory Infection, Relieves Stress, Allergies, Poison Ivy)
- Melaleuca Oil (Bacterial and viral infections, Wound care)
- Oregano Oil (Skin, foot fungus, sinus infections)
- Colloid Silver (Wound Care, Bacterial and Viral infections)
- Manuka Honey (Skin, ingest for building immunity to pollen allergies)
- Garlic (Ear infections, Colds, Flu)
- Ginger (Eliminates pathogens in food)
- Cinnamon (Candida, athlete’s foot)
- Pau D’ Arco (Candida, viral and bacterial infections)
Step #5: Remove Stress For Microbiome Success
The root of many diseases in today’s high-paced society lies within the fact that chronic stress is more prevalent now than ever before. Finances, work, family disputes, and school are all some of the most common contributors to chronic stress due to the inability for most people to find ways to cope with stressful situations. Many people are unaware of the danger they are putting their bodies in by allowing themselves to become chronically stressed. Stress directly affects the health of the microbiome which consequently affects many vital metabolic processes used for protecting, rebuilding, and energizing your body. Because stress leads to an increase in gut permeability, the healthy bacteria in your gut could flow out into the bloodstream to be attacked by the immune system. Stress also causes the intestines to produce less of the mucosal lining for these commensal bacteria to reside in preventing them from having a place to attach, grow, and reproduce (9). This can be extremely disruptive to the balance of the microbiome leading to many of the systemic diseases listed previously. There are some powerful techniques that can be utilized to help you manage your stress; some of which have been practiced for centuries.
Some of the most powerful relaxation and mental reconstruction techniques include:
- Meditation (Try to give your mind a break by focusing on one thing or clearing your mind of everything)
- Positive Affirmations (Continually remind yourself of your good qualities throughout the day)
- Breathe (If you can control your breathing throughout the day, you can control your mind)
- Make Time For Hobbies You Enjoy
Reaping the Benefits of a Healthy Microbiome
If you or someone you know is experiencing the effects of a systemic disease, I would encourage you to find a physician who is willing to take into consideration the health of your microbiome. If there is not one of these physicians locally available, then it is vital for you to take control of your health by learning how to cooperate with your microbiome. If you incorporate prebiotic and probiotic-rich supplements and foods along with avoiding artificial antibiotics and eliminating stress, you will on your way to living a life full of health benefits including:
- Increased Energy
- Healthy Weight Loss
- Decreased Inflammation
- Increased Mental Clarity
- Regular and pain-free bowel movements
- Allergy Reversal
- Viral and Bacterial Immunity
- Increased Libido
- Clear and Vibrant Skin, Hair, and Nails
- Strong Bones
- Diabetes Management and Reversal
- Cancer Prevention and Management
- Less Chronic Pain
This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits a healthy microbiome can have on your health. Imagine how much better it will feel when looking, feeling, and being healthy is a normal part of your daily life. By investing into the health of your microbiome, you will be able to wake up each morning knowing that there will be no chronic pain associated with disease that can stand in the way of you enjoying your life. You will have the liberty to spend time with friends and family and also accomplish the goals that you have set out for yourself with the help of your 100 trillion sidekicks living within you.
Remember, reversing pain requires an integrated approach. If you need help to better understand what to eat, how to move, or how your thoughts and emotions affect your pain, I hope you’ll consider attending my Free Webinar on Healing Pain Naturally. You’ll learn how to use the power of your mind to heal; as well how nutrition and gentle movement can reverse your pain. Does this sound like something you need?
This webinar will provide you with the info to change your life, almost immediately. Sign-up for the free webinar here (I’ll email you a recording, too!)