What is a Microbiome?


Have you heard the word “microbiome” and are wondering what it is and how it affects your digestion?  Currently lots of research is underway to help us learn more information about the microbiome that lives on, and in our bodies.  So let us give you a brief explanation of what a microbiome is, and how it not only affects your digestive health, but your overall health.

If you look up what the word microbiome actually means, you’ll see a description something like microorganisms that live in a specific environment.  These microorganisms are made up of things like bacteria, fungus, yeast, and much more.  These microorganisms play a very important role in our overall health such as regulating our immune system, helping to digest food, regulating our moods and more.  And research is starting to show that we have more than just one microbiome community.  We in fact have multiple – the culture that live in our gut are different to that which live in our brain, or on our skin.  And they all have specific roles to play that help to govern our overall health. 

The Gut Microbiome

We commonly deal with the microbiome in the gut when people have an imbalance which leads to a variety of digestive problems such as gas, bloating, abdominal pain and cramping, food sensitivities, diarrhea or constipation.  There are a number of factors such as inflammation, dietary changes, or stress that can disrupt the harmony of the microbiome which can lead to the above described digestive complaints. 

The key is to figure out what is causing the imbalance so that it can be corrected.  We get many people calling and asking about a food intolerance test because they’ve started having food sensitivities that didn’t exist before.  However, before recommending the test, our Toronto naturopaths will do a thorough medical history to discover the root cause of the problem.  If they determine there is an imbalance – something like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO),  then this must first be addressed before doing the test.  Otherwise the patient is likely to end up with false positive results.  Plus, sticking to an unnecessarily restricted diet will only harm the microbiome further, as a lot of food sources that will help to keep them healthy, may get cut out of the diet.

So, keeping your microbiome healthy is key to our overall health.  Research is providing us with more and more information about how to do this every day.  And while reading lots of confusing information on the internet can be daunting, you can trust our naturopaths will know the best way to keep your microbiome healthy and happy.

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