HOW IMPORTANT IS THE GUT MICROBIOME?
(20 minute read)
There’s a lotta talk, but does it really matter? ...and what is Leaky Gut?
Your microbiome is incredibly important. In fact, your microbiome in your digestive tract helps control and manage your mood, food cravings, immunity, and brain function! Pretty cool for some quirky little bacteria and fungi, huh?
Studies have shown us that the health and diversity of the microbiome directly impact our overall health. People who have a more diverse microbiome also have a greater tolerance to fight off pathogens and manage mood, emotions, and food cravings.
YOUR GUT MICROBIOME IS LIKE A GARDEN
Imagine a beautiful garden with lots of vibrant colors and fruits and vegetables. This garden is beautiful, but it takes work: weeding, water, sunlight, attention, and care. When not watered or cared for, the garden quickly changes and becomes overgrown and full of weeds. This is not unlike what happens in our gut.
Your gut has trillions of bacteria that are known as the microbiome. In your digestive tract, there are more microbes than there are human cells in your body.
Just like a garden, our microbiome needs to be tended. It needs good food (probiotics), fertilizer (food for the probiotics known as prebiotics), and support (something to get rid of the weeds and help detox the gut). When not cared for, dysbiosis (imbalance of bacteria in the gut) can occur.
HOW IS YOUR GUT HEALTH?
The reality is that the gut plays an important role in both digestive functions as well as general body health. Since it plays a major role with neurochemicals, it has even been referred to as our second brain.
The health of your digestive tract can affect your mood, food cravings, irritability, brain health, hormone regulation, and yes, your immune system too!
A major part of your immune system comes from your gut. Your gut is responsible for 70% of your ability to fight infection and stay well.
Should you be concerned about your gut? Take a moment and ask yourself:
- Have I ever taken an antibiotic at any time in my life?
- Have I, or do I, consume commercially raised meats (beef, chicken, pork) and dairy products?
- Have I ever used Splenda, even once?
- Do I experience stress on a regular basis?
- I am considered overweight and can’t seem to lose weight no matter what I try?
- Do I experience overwhelming cravings for unhealthy foods?
- Do I eat grains like wheat, corn, and rice?
If you answered YES to any of these questions, then your
GUT HEALTH MAY BE AT RISK
When your gut health is not in balance, you most likely do not feel as well and vibrant as you think you should, or you may be feeling sluggish or experiencing brain fog regularly.
WHAT MAY BE NEGATIVELY AFFECTING YOUR MICROBIOME?
If you have taken an antibiotic before, you may be surprised to learn that:
A single round of strong antibiotics can destroy 100% of all the beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract (aka the “gut”)! These beneficial bacteria are essential to your health, and they makeup nearly 80% of your immune system!
We are alive and prosper because of the actions of these “good bacteria;” and when they are out of balance, our health suffers.
Here are just a few facts about our gut's "good bacteria":
- They help us digest food for energy
- They manufacture substances that support our health and wellness
- They help with mood management
Did You Know?
It can take up to two years for these beneficial bacteria to re-populate and for the microbiome to start to function normally after a round of strong antibiotics. Re-populating a robust diversity and balance is foundational for health.
Commercially Raised Beef
Many people think, “I haven’t had an antibiotic for years, so I am OK.” Right? Well…
If you eat commercially raised meats like beef, chicken, pork and use dairy products, you are getting a continuous dose of antibiotics every time you eat these foods.
In fact, 80% of all antibiotics manufactured in the US go into commercially raised meats and dairy.
This means that these beneficial “good” bacteria are continually exposed to antibiotics. They are continuously challenged to maintain levels that are required to support a strong immune system and maintain good health.
Interestingly, natural casings to make sausage are derived from the GI tract of livestock. The GI tracts of US livestock can often lack integrity because US cattle (like many of us) suffer from “Leaky Gut.” The casings cannot be used for sausage. Often casings must be imported from Argentina or New Zealand where cattle are more organically raised, and antibiotics are not used.
Splenda and Artificial Sweeteners
If you have ever used Splenda, you may also be surprised that just one packet of Splenda—yes, the artificial sweetener that many people think is the “safe one”...
Can destroy up to 50% of the beneficial bacteria in the gut!
If you are trying to cut down on sugar—an excellent idea for GI health too—using substitutes like Splenda, and Aspartame (Equal), are NOT a healthy alternative.
Try using organic stevia leaf, its extract, or monk fruit instead. You may need to shop the brands to find the one you like, but it is well worth the effort!
Stress, especially chronic stress, increases intestinal permeability and GI dysfunction. Most of us live in a constant state of stress (fight or flight), and it is so normal that we don’t even realize it or notice it anymore.
Stress turns off normal digestive functions (part of the parasympathetic system) because the body’s resources are hard-wired to support and turn-on “stress-state” activities (sympathetic system) that enable the body to meet the real or perceived dangers in the fight-or-flight stress response. These include an increased heart rate and blood pressure leading to increased blood flow to the skeletal muscles to support running. The GI muscles relax, and digestive enzymes, as well as stomach acid, aren’t produced.
This fight-or-flight stress worked well for our caveman ancestors who had periodic moments of running for their lives from a saber-toothed tiger. They needed all the resources the body could muster for survival and to avoid becoming a meal rather than trying to digest their own meal. Fortunately, we no longer have saber-toothed tigers to worry about, but our lives are full of daily stressors and our bodies are still reacting to keep us from the threat of being eaten.
Obesity and Overwhelming Food Cravings
Anything that tips the balance of our microbiome to favor “bad bacteria” will result in unhealthy food cravings (sweets, starches, carbohydrates) which can eventually lead to obesity.
Did You Know?
It’s not you that’s craving that sundae. It’s the bad bacteria!
“Bad bacteria” send messages to our brain to eat foods they crave which are starchy, sugary, fatty foods that promote their health, not ours. If you experience overwhelming food cravings for sweets, breads, pasta, and fried foods, this could be why. Your microbiome is out-of-balance where “bad” bacteria are in charge.
“Bad” bacteria thrive on sugar, carbs, starches and fats.
“Good” bacteria thrive on vegetables, fruit and fiber.
Shifting the balance favoring good bacteria can help us maintain a healthy weight. Good bacteria turn off the messages that compel us to eat more food, especially the type of food that makes us gain weight and lead to obesity.
Many people find it easier to manage their weight by eating more foods high in fiber or take a high-quality fiber supplement. Our bodies can’t digest the fiber, but the “good” bacteria can—it is their primary food—and when the fiber is in abundance, their colonies thrive.(1)
Hidden GMOs and Toxins
If you are like most people, you probably eat bread and corn or consume foods that contain wheat or corn. If you eat processed foods at all, this likely applies to you. Eating grains (corn, wheat, and other GMO crops) are laced with Roundup!
Did you know that when you eat commercially grown grains like wheat and corn, you are also likely getting a steady dose of “Roundup”?
That’s right, the same chemical you can buy at your local home and garden store to kill weeds.
You probably have never imagined drinking “Roundup” have you?
Glyphosate—the active ingredient in “Roundup”—is the choice for weed control used in the farming of wheat and corn, along with other grains and GMO crops.
GMO crops have been modified to withstand treatment with Roundup, so only the weeds die and not the crop.
Roundup Kills Bacteria (Your Microbiome)
Roundup kills weeds but also kills bacteria. Bacteria also die because—like plants—they too are affected by RoundUp.
Americans are now getting a steady dose of Roundup when they consume these crop foods. These residues also affect the beneficial bacteria that are supposed to flourish in our GI tracts and keep us flourishing too. Our bacteria, which comprise our microbiome, are sensitive to Roundup just like normal (non-GMO) plants.
Intestinal Integrity and Roundup
Additionally, Glyphosate in Roundup—like many other toxins—affects the tight junctions that hold the cells in the GI tract together. These tight junctions are found in-between cells.
Exposure to Glyphosate not only kills the bacteria in our GI tract, but it also promotes “Leaky Gut,” because it weakens the tight junctions that hold the cells in our GI tract together.
WHAT IS LEAKY GUT?
A "Leaky Gut" occurs when the intestinal lining and cell junctions are compromised and allows food particles, toxins, and bad microbes to pass through. When this occurs toxins and pathogens travel throughout our body via our bloodstream and can wreak havoc.
So why should we care if the cells lining the GI tract are letting a few undigested proteins, food particles, or microbes through?
We should care because intestinal permeability is a major contributing factor to inflammatory diseases, including gastrointestinal problems such as Celiac Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome; as well as metabolic diseases, such as obesity, fatty liver disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
Did you know that most chronic disease is associated with a “toxic, dysfunctional and leaky gut”?
Chronic/Inflammatory diseases and other health concerns related to Leaky Gut include:
- Heart Disease
- Weight Management Problems
- Auto-Immune Conditions and Responses in the Thyroid and Joints
- Celiac Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Chronic Pain/Inflammation
Autoimmune Disease and Immune Health
Because the gut barrier is a crucial part of the immune system (in fact the majority of your immune system is located in the gut), dysfunction here can cause immune problems including autoimmune disorders.
One major study states: "There is growing evidence that increased intestinal permeability plays a pathogenic role in various autoimmune diseases including Celiac Disease and Type 1 Diabetes… besides genetic and environmental factors, loss of intestinal barrier function is necessary to develop autoimmunity."(2)
The study goes on to explain that intestinal permeability is a trigger for autoimmune disease because when unwanted pathogens and proteins cross the gut barrier, your body mounts an immune attack against them.
This immune reaction can trigger an autoimmune response in people who are already genetically susceptible and in places outside the gut such as joints and the thyroid gland.(3)
How Do I know if I have Leaky Gut?
There are some telltale signs, symptoms, or conditions associated with “Leaky Gut”, or a poorly functioning GI Tract.
Take this brief quiz to see if any of these apply to you:
- Have you been diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases—like Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Diverticulitis—or any other GI disease that may have had “Leaky Gut” and inflammation as its root?
- Do you have low energy or complain of being fatigued regularly?
- Do you experience joint pain, muscle pain, or arthritis?
- Are you frequently constipated (less than 2-3 bowel movements per day; that is the number of meals you ate the day before)?
- Do you have any digestive complaints such as: constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, burping, acid reflux, GERD, IBS?
- Do you have any brain complaints such as brain fog, easily forgetting things, lack of focus, chronic headaches, depression, or anxiety? (Did you know there is a direct connection between GI health and brain function?)
- Do you have any of the following autoimmune diseases such as: Hashimoto’s, Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, Celiac disease, MS, Type 1 Diabetes?
- Do you have food intolerances, sensitivities, or allergies?
- Do you have any skin complaints: itchy skin, rashes, eczema, rosacea, acne, hives, and psoriasis?
- Do you have any seasonal allergies, environmental allergies, or pet allergies?
- Are you overweight and have trouble losing weight?
If you answered “YES” to any of these questions, you likely have a gut that could use a little TLC…you're not alone. Millions of people are facing GI issues.
HELP KEEP YOUR GUT BARRIER AND
Dr. Tennant’s® Microbiome Support with its researched and clinically-proven ingredients supports these important aspects of GI health:
Stronger intestinal barrier support and improved GI cellular tight junction function. Mucosal Barrier support. Increased natural “good bacteria” SCFA production—such as butyrate—and phospholipids to help heal the GI tract.
Proven Immune System support and immune modulatory elements for a healthier immune response.
A superior group of high-molecular weight, stable prebiotic fibers proven to enhance a natural, healthy Microbiome flora in the GI tract. Fibers also naturally improve detoxification and promote weight management by providing a feeling of fullness. Fiber supports a normal microbiome balance which prevents “bad bacteria” from sending messages to the brain to overeat the wrong foods which further supports weight management.
Potent antioxidant and soothing, effective anti-inflammatory support with several powerful ingredients to help reduce inflammation and inflammatory responses throughout the GI tract.
- Relief with more normalized bowel habits, as well as detoxification support in binding, shuttling, and eliminating toxins out through the colon.
A “Pre” Biotic Approach Before Probiotics
You may be wondering why probiotics (“Good Bacteria” supplements) are not included in Dr. Tennant’s® Microbiome Support.
Although probiotics are great to help maintain a healthy microbiome, the most recent research has shown that probiotics may provide little to no benefit in a dysbiotic, highly oxidative, inflamed digestive tract. Probiotics may even aggravate GI distress symptoms. Caution should be exercised in people with potential autoimmune GI disease such as Crohn's. Prebiotics on the other hand can be incredibly beneficial.
It is important to first regain a more balanced GI environment and then to allow probiotic supplements to truly work and provide benefit.
Prebiotics are essential to help balance the microbiome. Dr. Tennant's® Microbiome Support includes prebiotics. It addresses cleansing and healing of the GI tract while supporting it with prebiotics to stimulate optimal gut health without causing potential distress.
If you are interested in supporting your digestive tract, curbing unhealthy food cravings, supporting your immunity, or looking for more energy, it’s a great idea to focus on the health and well-being of your microbiome.
Remember, if your gut isn’t happy, you won’t be happy or healthy!
So, now you know...Your search for improved health will never end until you improve the health of your GUT first!
Fortunately, people are now starting to realize that gut health is essential. Most practitioners would agree this is true and are now beginning to approach their patients from the standpoint of Healing the Gut First!
We always recommend that you work with your healthcare practitioner to help determine your GI health needs and what steps to take.
Want to Learn More?
Check out our educational resources:
(Konturek PC1, Brzozowski T, Konturek SJ. Stress and the gut: pathophysiology, clinical consequences, diagnostic approach and treatment options. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2011 Dec;62(6):591-9.) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22314561/
- Lee SH1. Intestinal permeability regulation by tight junction: implication on inflammatory bowel diseases. Intest Res. 2015 Jan;13(1):11-8. doi: 10.5217/ir.2015.13.1.11. Epub 2015 Jan 29. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25691839/
- Frazier TH1, DiBaise JK, McClain CJ. Gut microbiota, intestinal permeability, obesity-induced inflammation, and liver injury. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2011 Sep;35(5 Suppl):14S-20S. doi: 10.1177/0148607111413772. Epub 2011 Aug 1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21807932/
Scarpellini E, EtAl Intestinal permeability in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: the gut-liver axis. Rev Recent Clin Trials. 2014;9(3):141-7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25514911/
Visser J1, Rozing J, Sapone A, Lammers K, Fasano A., Tight junctions, intestinal permeability, and autoimmunity: celiac disease and type 1 diabetes paradigms. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 May;1165:195-205. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04037.x. https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04037.x
M C Arrieta, L Bistritz, and J B Meddings; Alterations in intestinal permeability. Gut. 2006 Oct; 55(10): 1512–1520. doi: 10.1136/gut.2005.085373 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1856434/
It’s your body. It’s your life. Ingredients matter.
Featured Products in This Article:
Dr. Tennant’s® Microbiome Support helps detox, cleanse and heal the gut. Its clinically studied ingredients help improve intestinal wall integrity, reducing inflammation and supporting immune system modulation and regularity.
Dr. Tennant’s® Gut Bootcamp helps reset the balance of the microbiome and mycobiome within the gut, in addition to helping the body cleanse and detox while improving intestinal wall integrity, reducing inflammation and supporting immune system modulation and regularity.