Microbial Diversity- The single most important factor when it comes to our health

What is Microbial Diversity

Microbial diversity means having a wide range of microbes residing in our intestines/gut microbiome. Our gut microbiome is inhabited by 500 different species of microbes that make up 100 trillion lifeforms. That is more than the 37.2 trillion human cells that we have. So we are actually more microbial than we are human.

Researchers have shown that maintaining those 500 species is not only what prevents us from developing diseases but it increases our longevity. So, by doing this, we are able to live well into our 90’s and be free of chronic disease. That’s because those microbes that make up our gut microbiome are like soldiers. They protect us from many forms of pathogens, including bad bacteria, viruses & fungus. They have other purposes as well. Some of these beneficial microbes extract nutrients from the food we eat so our body is able to absorb them. Some make immune cells that protect us against cancer.

The Unbalanced Microbiome

Disruption of the normal balance of these microbes is linked to a host of unwanted conditions such as obesity, Inflammatory bowel conditions (IBD), neurological conditions, micronutrient deficiencies & cancer. In addition to these conditions, low microbial diversity can cause fatigue,  constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, headaches, insomnia. So it can really drain our quality of life.

There are several things that can disrupt the diversity and cause those 500 species to die. Antibiotics are the number one cause. Antibiotics cannot distinguish between good bacteria and bad ones. They devastate the diversity. What remains are high amounts of antibiotic-resistant strains which causes a host of other problems.

Antibiotics are necessary at times and they can be the difference between life or death. But, according to the CDC, 50% of all antibiotics prescribed are prescribed for the wrong reason. Antibiotics cannot fight viruses nor fungus. When antibiotics are prescribed for the flu (virus), the only thing they accomplishing is destroying the diversity.

Diverse Food

Another thing that can destroy the diversity of the gut microbiome is a poor diet that is high in packaged, processed foods and low in a variety of fresh unprocessed foods, fruits, and vegetables. When you have 500 microbial species living in your gut, it is just like having 500 different types of pets that you have to feed and they all have a different diet. So having a variety in your diet is essential to keeping the diversity high and alive. If you eat the same food every day you will be starving off essential microbes that require different nutrients from us.

Take good care of your 500 pets; eat a varied diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, always question your doctor if the antibiotic is necessary and you will reap the rewards of health and longevity.

Karen Graham, RDN

Understanding the Gut Microbiome, Diet and Chronic Disease

Microbiome of the Gut

The gut microbiome is a complex ecosystem within the gastrointestinal tract. This ecosystem is made up of 500-1000 species of gut bacteria. When these gut bacteria are altered so is the health of the host, meaning our own health. When our gut microbiome is healthy, so are we. These microbes influence our metabolism, inflammation, our mood, and our immune system.

Gut Microbiome Diet

Studies show that alterations in the gut microbiome due to an unhealthy diet and poor lifestyle contribute to the development of a host of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, leaky gut, colon cancer, Parkinson’s, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

According to recent research, the factors that contribute to a healthy microbiome are a diversified diet, limited processed foods & adequate fiber.

The good news is that the gut microbiome can be shaped by long-term dietary interventions, according to a 2015 study in obese patients.

Microbiome Expert

As a registered dietitian that specializes in the gut microbiome and chronic disease, Karen Graham, RDN can help you restore a healthy, diverse microbiome at any stage of your life. These changes in your diet and lifestyle will balance the gut microbiome and in turn optimize your weight and prevent/reverse chronic disease.

Karen Graham is a Scottsdale, Arizona based functional medicine nutritionist. She is a microbiome expert in how it relates to diet and chronic disease. Karen has been studying the gut microbiome for the past 8 years and she has developed a simple, multi-pronged approach to addressing an unbalanced microbiome and getting your health back on track.

Learn more by attending our New Patient Workshop. These monthly workshops focus on bringing you up-to-date on the latest information regarding your health and how the gut microbiome plays a significant role. We are in the era of the gut microbiome and the information is changing at a rapid rate so the workshops are also updated on a monthly basis.