The mystery inside us

I’ve been studying the human microbiome quite intensely lately and it’s becoming abundantly clear that the bacteria, archaea, and fungal organisms that live inside of our GI tract live in a delicate symbiosis with their host. We understand this microbial ecology as a new frontier in science and medicine which still is a mystery akin to the dark matter of our galaxy or the depths of the sea floor. As one scientist put it – “we probably know more about the rarest species of the Galapagos islands” than we do about the most abundant bacterial species comprising the human microbiome. They help us digest our food, regulate the immune system, and produce short-chain fatty acids that scientists know play profound roles in human health. We understand the microbiome as an undervalued and forgotten about endocrine organ synthesizing neurotransmitters and hormones that regulate multiple parts of our body. And finally, patterns begin to emerge in diseases ranging from Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Cancer, and even diseases of the mind like Autism. This is just the beginning in uncovering the mystery inside us.

Dysbiosis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease

A word you might be hearing lately is called “dysbiosis.” In the human gut, dysbiosis can mean the process by which normal bacteria become vastly outnumbered by lesser common species or species associated with pathology. It can be caused by a number of things like a poor diet high in refined meat or sugar, antibiotics, stress, poor oral hygiene, and more. Symptoms and diseases associated with dysbiosis are all over the map ranging from bloating, to SIBO, to heart disease, to even ADHD – but one close to many of you is Inflammatory Bowel Disease. The microbiomes of people with IBD look quite different than the general population and although scientists don’t fully understand the implications yet – lifestyle is a huge factor. If you are able, eating a diet high in resistant starch, soluble fiber, prebiotic foods, and probiotic foods can make a huge difference. Having a good variety of microbial organisms is key and studies demonstrate the more plants you have in your diet, the more diverse your microbiome.