Why Your Microbiome Health Matters

Unbalanced Microbiome

An unbalanced gut microbiome can also affect hormonal balance. This may disrupt menstrual cycles and lead to irregular periods, ovulation issues, PCOS, endometriosis, and eventually affect reproductive success.

What is the Microbiome?

Imagine a busy metropolis on a workday afternoon, with people racing down the sidewalks to make it to work or appointments. Think of your microbiome in a similar, more microscopic, way. The microbiome is made up of trillions of microorganisms (or microbiota) of thousands of different species. It not only contains bacteria, but fungus, parasites, and viruses as well.

These microorganisms live harmoniously in a healthy individual, with the biggest populations found in the gastrointestinal tract. Owing to the essential role it plays in supporting an efficiently functioning body, the microbiome is often described as a “supportive” organ.
Each person’s microbiome is unique to them and determined by genetics. Our first exposure to microbes happens as infants when we make our way through the birth canal during delivery as well as breast milk feedings. The specific species of microbes we are exposed to exclusively depends on the ones present in the mother. As we live our day-to-day lives, diet and environmental exposure alter our microbiome. This change can either be positive or negative in terms of health and disease risk.

The microbiome is made up of bacteria that can be both beneficial and possibly detrimental. The majority are symbiotic species that benefit the body and microbiota. There is a small amount of pathogenic species that promote disease. Both species, symbiotic and pathogenic, can coexist quite harmoniously in a healthy body.
Dysbiosis, however, is when the microbiome is disrupted and becomes unbalanced. This disruption can be triggered by viral diseases, unhealthy diets, or long-term use of antibiotics or other medications that kill beneficial bacteria. This increases our diseases risk greatly.

How Does the Microbiome Relate to Your Health?

The microbiota that makes up the microbiome are extremely beneficial to health. They strengthen immune system function and health, break down harmful dietary components, and generate essential vitamins and amino acids, including B vitamins and vitamin K. Compared to animal and plants, bacteria are the only species that carry the key enzymes requires to synthesize vitamin B12.

Compared to simple sugars like lactose that are broken down and absorbed quickly in the small intestine, complex carbs like starch and fiber are harder for the body to digest and travel to the large intestine. The microbiota located in this region are designed to metabolism these nutrients utilizing their digestive enzymes.

As nondigested fibers are fermented in the intestines, they metabolically produce short chain fatty acids (SCFA), which provide a source of nutrition to the body. SCFA’s play a significant role in muscle health and function and may even lower the risk of developing chronic health conditions.

The gut microbiome is home to approximately 1,000 different bacterial species – each of which has a unique function in the body. The majority of them are essential to supporting general health, while some may lead to health issues. A healthy individual’s microbiome offers defense against pathogens brought in my consuming contaminated fluids or food.

In fact, the microbiome present in the gut and gastrointestinal tract are thought to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria species. They do so by stealing their source of nutrition in key areas where the immune system in active and producing beneficial antimicrobial proteins.

How the Microbiome Impacts the Body

Your microbiome diversifies as you age. Meaning, it continues to expand in the variety of bacteria species it contains. Experts believe that the greater the microbiome diversity a person has, the more health benefits they experience.

It’s interesting to note that microbiome development and the type of bacteria species found in your gut is heavily influenced by diet. Further, your body is impacted by your microbiome in a variety of ways, including:

Bifidobacteria are a microbe species that help metabolize the growth-promoting sugars obtained from the mother’s breast milk.

A few microbial species help metabolize short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which are essential to gut health and function and lower the risk of weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.

The microbial species in your gut play a role in how well your immune system functions and maintains health. Essentially, your gut microbiome has the ability to influence how your body reacts to injury and illness by stimulating immune cell activity.

Numerous bacteria in your gut have positive effects on your health. But having too many unhealthy microbiotas can increase your risk of disease. Gut dysbiosis, which is an imbalance of beneficial and harmful bacteria species in the microbiome, has been linked to weight gain. Probiotics, which are generally classified as healthy bacteria, can help restore gut health and support a healthy weight.

Research indicates the gut microbiome may influence the central nervous system, which regulates cognitive function. There are certain bacteria species generate vital neurotransmitters, including serotonin, and stimulate their activity which helps regulate mood and improve behavior.

There are numerous ways in which the gut microbiota might impact important biological processes and have an impact on your health. What many may not realize is that the body has more than one microbiome. The most common microbiome discussed and often connected to human health is the gut microbiome. Yet, there are several “types” of microbiomes found in the body.

The Different Types of Microbiomes

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Vaginal Microbiome

There are numerous local advantages of our body’s microbiome. Healthy GI flora colonies have a favorable whole-body effect. Probiotics are particularly beneficial for women as many of the same bacterial species present in the GI tract are also naturally present in the uterine and vaginal microbiome. The vagina is home to a large, diverse colony of beneficial bacteria called a microbiome. A healthy microbiome can support feelings of freshness, comfort, and health. The bacterial colonies that make up your vaginal microbiome require balance to support reproductive and uterine health and fertility.

A balanced microbiome can take care of itself and your health. If your vaginal microbiome is neglected, it may become weak and unable to fend off attacks from harmful pathogens and yeast. This can result in overgrowth of “bad” colonies that ultimately disrupt the balance of your vaginal microbiome.

Vaginal troubles begin small and can progress rapidly. Your symptoms may appear to be minor at first, but your treatment should begin as soon as you notice the first signs that something feels “off.” Signs of an imbalanced vaginal microbiome may include:

The vagina has a naturally acidic pH that hovers between 3.8 and 4.5. This slight acidity creates an environment that allows beneficial colonies to flourish, which supports health and comfort of the vaginal tissue and microbiome. Most healthy, balanced vaginal microbiomes consist of Lactobacillus bacterial communities, including:

Lactobacillus strains help maintain a naturally acidic vaginal pH to restore the balance of healthy bacteria and better support the intestinal, vaginal, and uterine microbiome. Balancing the vaginal microbiome with Lactobacillus strains may also support fertility as the uterine and vaginal microbiome are closely linked

Schedule an appointment

The path to your optimal health starts TODAY. Schedule a consultation with one of our Wellness Specialists at Lisanne Wellness Center to learn more about what we can do to support your microbiome health goals.

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This program was developed by Lisanne Wellness Center. For more information call us at 713-461-WELL (9355) or info@ReachForWellness.com – * We recommend using this program for several months to achieve the best results.

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Infectious Disease Physician

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