At one time, everyone thought your genes were the be all and end all. The genes were the brains of every cell. The gut and the diet were virtually ignored. And that wasn’t too long ago.

But now….we know the genes that you are born with are simply toggle switches that can be turned off and on.

We know that the diet provides the body with the nutrients it requires in order to function…well actually, we always did…it was the medical profession that claimed “due to overwhelming evidence, we have to conclude that diet impacts on your health” – in the 90s!!!

Anyways, to continue, now alternative medicine is being shown to be right one more time. The gut is hugely important…no kidding. But after decades of denial, regular, mainstream researchers are now looking at the functions of the gut.

This is called microbiome and is defined as the total number of micro-organisms inhabiting the human body (note, not just the gut).

It is estimated that there are 10 times more microbe-organism cells in the body than cells that belong to us. Most of these microbes live in our gut.

We have predominantly four categories of microbes: Actinobacteria, Bacteriodetes, Firmicutes and Proteobacteria.

In the gut, this microbiome effects a broad range of physiological properties in the human (or the host):
intestinal -epithelial cell proliferation
cell differentiation
energy balance
pH
development of the immune system
protection against pathogens

Different groups provide different functions. For instance, Malawi children produce more riboflavin-producing (Vitamin B2) bugs than children in N.America.

Glycans, a nutrient found in milk, are only digestable by glycoside hydrolase. But we don’t produce this enzyme. However, a gut bacteria does produce it for us. Some cultural microbes are better at extracting nutrition from mother’s milk than other microbes, because of the production of glycoside hydrolase which converts milk glycans into usable sugars.

These microbes do a huge number of complex functions for us like metabolizing carbohydrates:
small fatty-acid molecules
formic acid
acetic acid
butyric acid

In addition, we now know that people who are heavier have more Firmicutes and less Bacteriodetes than people who are thinner.

Bacteria can also:
suppress hormones that facilitate the storage of fat
suppress enzymes that stop fat being burned
cause malnutrition

If malnourished, the gut microbiome may not be able to synthesize some of the vitamins and nutrients we require.

Some of these microbes can modify the production of neurotransmitters found in the brain and associated with issues like schizophrenia, depression, bipolar and other neuro-chemical balances.

Research is now showing that these microbes might be responsible for disorders from obesity, to cardiovascular issues, to mental health and cancers.

This science is only in the beginning stages of development but has a huge impact on our understanding of the nutritional processes in our bodies.

So to conclude…we know our genes are not as in control as thought they were…and now we find out that other microbes may have a huge on our systems and our body’s ability to function and think…we may need to start asking…who really is in charge?

Here’s to your health!
For more information, contact: Dr Holly at holly@choicesunlimited.ca
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