Diet and lifestyle are at the root of all health and disease. Damage to the gut microbiome is a chief characteristic of most of the modern diseases.
The engine that drives human health isn’t even human! You’ve got friends in low places – trillions of them! Your gut microbiome is just as much of an ecosystem as the Amazon rainforest. Biodiversity is critically important to an ecosystem. When things are working the way they’re supposed to, we have a diverse and abundant community of microbes living in harmony in our colon. The colon is healthy and strong with an intact barrier of cells to keep everything in its rightful place, and our microbiota plays its natural role as the workhorses of human health.
They are not passive observers. They are what you eat! Our food is also their food. Every single bite flows downstream to your gut microbes. Each dietary choice you make will empower a specific group of microbes, while others will languish. If you permanently remove a food group, the microbes that thrive on that food will starve into extinction.
The healthy bacteria will reward us by molding our food into something that reduces inflammation and promotes health and balance. But the opposite can also be true. Unhealthy food feeds unhealthy microbes, and they punish us by creating compounds that inflame our body.
We use the term dysbiosis to refer to the loss of harmony and balance within the gut. Damage or microbial disruption causes you to have a higher proportion of inflammatory microbes. The good stuff falls by the wayside, making more room for the not so good stuff to flood your gut.
This is problematic, because now the colon wall is no longer protected by a healthy community of anti-inflammatory which increases intestinal permeability – some call this leaky gut – this leads to the spillage of bacterial endotoxins into the bloodstream. The bacterial endotoxins jump on the vascular superhighway throughout the body, and wherever it goes it sets a fire of inflammation. This can be a smoldering low-grade inflammation all the way up to life-threatening sepsis, shock, and multi-organ failure.
Bacterial endotoxins have been linked to a myriad of diseases including autoimmunity, obesity, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, type two diabetes, Alzheimer’s, hepatitis, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and osteoarthritis...
60% of the weight of your stool is actually bacteria! Both good and bad.
When we properly nourish our gut microbiota, we are rewarded with microbes that extract everything that we need from our food, and nothing that we don’t...
Everything that we do as humans involves our microbiota one way or another, even the way we love one another. Every time we kiss, we exchange 80 million microbes with our partner, and vice versa.
Brain health starts in the gut, and that’s because they are in constant communication with each other. Literally right this second, there are over 500 million nerves in your intestines sending feedback to your brain through the vegus nerve. That’s five times more nerves than you’ll find in your spinal cord!
Gut microbes can communicate with our brain using the immune system and through the release of neurotransmitters, hormones, and signaling molecules. Neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine play a powerful role in our mood, energy levels, motivation, and our sense of reward. Your gut produces more than 30 neurotransmitters. Gut microbes both produce and respond to neurohormones like serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and norepinephrine. In fact, 90% of serotonin and 50% of dopamine are produced in the gut.
Short Chain Fatty Acids: All roads point to SCFAs for human health. They are the dominant driver of gut health and offer many benefits throughout the body. Healthy bacteria can’t survive without fiber. Studies have shown that fiber consumption increases the growth of healthy bacteria species.
Fiber is feeding the healthy microbes and they are multiplying. These reinvigorated microbes release SCFA’s from fiber to heal the colon. They make the colon more acidic which prevents the growth of inflammatory and pathogenic bacteria. They directly suppress many dangerous strains. A positive health momentum is created when you regularly expose them to good fiber in your diet; they will adapt to that and get really good at extracting SCFAs for you.
But the flipside is also true: a diet lacking in fiber will drain your gut of its fiber-extracting capabilities and make it less capable of getting postbiotics from your food. 97% of us aren’t even getting the minimal recommendation for fiber!
The main source of energy for our gut lining are SCFAs and fully 10% of our total body daily caloric requirements are met by fiber derived SCFAs!
This blood gut barrier is meant for protection, but holes can occur in the wall allowing bacteria, antigens, and toxic substances like bacterial endotoxins to get past the intestinal wall, activating the immune system. This increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut happens when tight junction proteins that are meant to keep cells connected to one another have been broken, thereby creating gaps between the cells. Good news: SCFA butyrate repairs leaky gut by increasing the expression of tight junction proteins and has been shown to decrease endotoxin release.
I’ve heard people say that your genes load the gun, and your lifestyle pulls the trigger. If that’s the case, then SCFAs disarm the gun and take it out of your hand. SCFAs make immune cells more tolerant to gut bacteria and reduce gut inflammatory markers.
SCFAs reverse dysbiosis, strengthen the gut microbiome, optimize the immune system, and regulate appetite and metabolism... SCFAs also cross the blood brain barrier and continue to work their magic. They connect the gut microbiome to the cerebral function. These effects are powerful. Many people with leaky gut also complain of brain fog. CFA butyrate has demonstrated a profound effect on improving learning and memory. Positive results are demonstrated in models of Alzheimer’s, heavy-metal toxicity, traumatic brain injury, and even neurologic infections. laboratory studies suggest that SCFA’s interfere with the formation amyloid plaque that’s characteristic of a deteriorating brain
Laboratory studies also show that butyrate protects the brain in models of Parkinson’s disease. This is quite interesting when you consider that human studies have found that patients with Parkinson’s disease have lower levels of the bacteria that produce SCFAs and, therefore lower levels of SCFAs in their stool. Parkinson’s disease patients characteristically have digestive issues, with constipation being the most common among them.
Children on a high-fiber diet demonstrate better cognitive control (multitasking, working memory, and maintaining focus) than children who eat a lower-fiber diet. So SCFAs may help ADHD. “I’d far rather kids eat a salad than take Ritalin!”
The above are some of my notes from: Fiber Fueled, Will Bulsiewicz, MD, MSCI ~Dave Johnson