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The gut microbiome aka gut health

The terms ‘gut health’ and the ‘ gut microbiome’ are the latest buzz words in the scientific and nutrition world. And for good reason too, over the last decade research has discovered that a huge number of health issues can be influenced by the composition of bacteria living in your gastrointestinal system which are collectively known as the microbiome.

The trillions of bacteria that live in your gut can affect your epigenetics and influence your hormones, skin, mental health and contribute to a host of chronic diseases.

Although the scientific discoveries about the gut have exploded there is still so much yet to be discovered.

Read on to discover what the science is saying about the problems that can be caused or worsened by poor gut health and the best test to find out what is going on in your gut. The microbiome test provides insight on how to optimise gut function which in turn will optimise your energy, immune health, weight and more. This test shows which foods are your personal superfoods and which foods should be avoided, the probiotics that are missing, prebiotics, supplements and more.

 

Research shows dysbiosis of the gut can cause:

Hormonal issues

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Gut microbes are increasingly being recognised for their role in influencing estrogen, testosterone, insulin, thyroid, stress and other hormones. In fact, the gut microbiome plays a significant role in the endocrine and reproductive system (Qi et al., 2021).

Estrogen is regulated by the gut microbiome via the secretion of an enzyme called β-glucuronidase. This enzyme assists with transforming estrogen into active forms. When this process is impaired this results in lower estrogen levels.

The composition of gut microbes has been shown to influence thyroid hormones, certain bacteria increase the odds of being hyperthyroid. Increased levels of enterococcus bacteria and low levels of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus were significant between hyperthyroid and the healthy control group (Zhou et al., 2014).

Around 90% of melatonin is produced by microbes living in our gut. Melatonin is not just necessary for sleep but producing serotonin which helps with mood (Yano et al., 2015).

 

 Skin issues

Skin issues such as acne, dermatitis, dandruff, rosacea, wound healing and even some skin cancers are affected by the composition of bacteria in the gut (De Pessemier et al., 2021)

 

Mental health issues

Depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions are affected by the health of the gut. There are millions of nerves and neurons that are connected from the brain to the gut which is known as the gut brain axis. These connections influence chemical and physical reactions affecting the central and enteric nervous systems. A number of microbes have been associated with depression according to research (Eltokhi & Sommer, 2022).

 

Diseases

A microbiome with an imbalance of harmful bacteria can increase the probability of contracting a number of diseases such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and some types of cancer (Qi et al., 2021). this study, we performed bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequencing on DNA isolated from fecal samples in order to compare the composition of the gut microbiome in participants with and without a diagnosis of dementia due to AD. We discovered that the gut microbiome of AD participants has decreased microbial richness and diversity and a distinct composition compared to asymptomatic age- and sex-matched Control participants. We also identified several broad taxonomic differences between AD and Control groups, and determined that levels of differentially abundant genera correlate with CSF biomarkers of AD pathology.

Feacal samples with low bacterial diversity and/or dysbiosis of the gut has been observed in those with Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, diabetes, IBD, and Parkinson’s disease in comparison to healthy control groups (Vogt et al., 2017).

However although the associations have been made continually through the scientific literature the exact mechanisms are incomplete.

Immune system

The gut microbiome play a crucial role in helping the body fight off pathogens and is fundamental to the “maturation and education of the immune system” (Magne et al., 2020). As research continues to emerge, it has become clear that when the homeostasis of the gut is impacted disrupted the immune system is negatively affected which can increase our susceptibility to viral and bacterial infections (Harper et al., 2021).

What is the best test for gut health?

One of the leaders in microbiome testing is Viome.

The Viome Gut Intelligence Test provides an analysis on over 20 different insights into our health status.

It also offers 400 personalised food recommendations which are categorised into avoid, superfoods, minimise and enjoy. Due to each person’s gut microbiome being unique what is a healthy superfood for one person may be on the avoid list for another.

Additionally there are 200 different supplement recommendations that may be chosen for your unique requirements.

 

What does the Viome Gut tests show?

    • Biological age – are you older or younger than your chronological age?
    • Metabolic fitness – indications regarding blood sugar, weight and insulin
    • Digestive efficiency – how well are you absorbing nutrients, macronutrient breakdown, protein fermentation and more
    • Microbe composition – beneficial & harmful bacteria
    • Intestinal barrier health
    • Level of inflammation in the gut
    • And more!

 

Quick facts about the Viome Gut Test

    • Uses the latest RNA technology to identify gut microbes
    • Personalised recommendations are provided to optimise health
    • At home collection of stool sample
    • Mail to the lab and obtain results in 4 weeks
    • Over 20 scores that provide insight into your health are provided

 

My thoughts as a gut health specialist and nutritionist

Nutrition is not a one size fits all, unfortunately it is not that simple, hence why there is so much confusion about what to eat.

Although there is still much to be discovered about the gut microbiome, the research has come a long way over the last decade. The gut microbiome test by Viome can provide some valuable insight into your health and provide personalised supplement and food recommendations. As the research and technology evolves these tests are going to further revolutionise health care.

Personally, I believe that Viome is the most advanced in the information they provide and their reporting after looking at all the competitors. Viome is the test I recommend for my clients, you can find out more or buy your test from the link below, and don’t forget to use the Viome discount code SUNSHINEHEALTH to save.  You can contact me here with any questions you have.

Gut Health Test – Viome

 The health of your gut affects almost every aspect of your health, if there is an imbalance in your gut then the body will not be in balance. Optimising gut function will optimise your energy, immune health, weight and more. This test shows which foods are ideal for your unique microbial composition, probiotics, prebiotics, supplements and more.

Once you recieve the test you will take a pea sized sample of your stool from the comfort of your home and then post it, the results will be available in a few weeks.

Use discount code SUNSHINEHEALTH to save an extra $20US.

Clicking this button will take you to the Viome website to complete purchase.

References

De Pessemier, B., Grine, L., Debaere, M., Maes, A., Paetzold, B., & Callewaert, C. (2021). Gut–Skin Axis: Current Knowledge of the Interrelationship between Microbial Dysbiosis and Skin Conditions. Microorganisms9(2), 353. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms9020353

Eltokhi, A., & Sommer, I. (2022). A Reciprocal Link Between Gut Microbiota, Inflammation and Depression: A Place for Probiotics?. Frontiers In Neuroscience16. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2022.852506

Harper, A., Vijayakumar, V., Ouwehand, A., ter Haar, J., Obis, D., & Espadaler, J. et al. (2021). Viral Infections, the Microbiome, and Probiotics. Frontiers In Cellular And Infection Microbiology10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fcimb.2020.596166

Magne, F., Gotteland, M., Gauthier, L., Zazueta, A., Pesoa, S., Navarrete, P., & Balamurugan, R. (2020). The Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes Ratio: A Relevant Marker of Gut Dysbiosis in Obese Patients?. Nutrients12(5), 1474. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12051474

Qi, X., Yun, C., Pang, Y., & Qiao, J. (2021). The impact of the gut microbiota on the reproductive and metabolic endocrine system. Gut microbes13(1), 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1080/19490976.2021.1894070

Vogt, N., Kerby, R., Dill-McFarland, K., Harding, S., Merluzzi, A., & Johnson, S. et al. (2017). Gut microbiome alterations in Alzheimer’s disease. Scientific Reports7(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-13601-y

Yano, J., Yu, K., Donaldson, G., Shastri, G., Ann, P., & Ma, L. et al. (2015). Indigenous Bacteria from the Gut Microbiota Regulate Host Serotonin Biosynthesis. Cell161(2), 264-276. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2015.02.047

Zhou, L., Li, X., Ahmed, A., Wu, D., Liu, L., & Qiu, J. et al. (2014). Gut Microbe Analysis Between Hyperthyroid and Healthy Individuals. Current Microbiology69(5), 675-680. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00284-014-0640-6

By nutritionist Chrissy

Chrissy is a university qualified nutritionist who graduated with honours at La Trobe University in Melbourne. One of her favourite hobbies is to read the scientific literature on how to optimise health. When she’s not reading, writing or working she’s with her 3 children outdoors, practicing yoga, jogging or cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Chrissy has overcome some debilitating chronic health issues (low mood, adrenal fatigue, insomnia, very bad acne to name a few) with the power of nutrients and correcting gut health, at 39 she now feels better than she did in her 20’s.