What Is the Microbiome and How Does It Affect Our Health?

March 1, 2020

Understand the amazing uniqueness of your microbiome and how it can help, or hurt, your health, weight, moods and more.

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Transcript:

LEAH: Good morning everyone and welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. Today we're going to explain a rather complex and maybe it's an unfamiliar term for many of you, and that term is called the microbiome. And if you're a nutrition follower you more than likely have seen this term around whether it's blog articles you've read or podcasts you've listened to, but we want to take some time this morning to really explain and explore and hopefully answer some questions around this concept of what exactly the microbiome is and how does it affect our health? If you would like more information about the microbiome after this show, you can go to our website, which is weightandwellness.com and read a blog article that I just wrote and we posted; I believe it was just last week on our website. So the blog is titled: What is the Microbiome? What Does it Do and How Does it Keep Us Healthy?

SHELBY: And Leah, I know I've talked to a few clients of mine who have already read that and think it's just a really great resource. So kudos on putting that together and making it easier for our followers and our listeners to kind of dive into this topic.

LEAH: Well, thank you, Shelby. I appreciate that. It took many hours, actually; more than I expected to get that blog article put together, but it came together actually fairly nicely. So and between that researching and the writing and trying to wrap my head around this concept of the microbiome, you know, I think I have a decent handle on what the microbiome is and just some of those impacts on our health. But I also just want to preface this or throw this out there early in the show here that the study of our gut health and the microbiome: it's still a relatively new scientific field. Only the last 15 to 20 years we've really had some fire power into the research behind this.

SHELBY: Right.

LEAH: So there are things, there are definitely a lot of things that we know, but my guess is that there's a heck of a lot out there that we don't know.

SHELBY: Exactly.

LEAH: So, so we're going to hopefully break down some of those things that we do know for our listeners this morning; help translate that and give people some topics or some ideas on how we can make an impact on that microbiome.

SHELBY: Right.

LEAH: Yeah. So again, what is the microbiome? And my name, I'll introduce myself now. I'm Leah Kleinschrodt. I'm a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. I see clients at our Mendota Heights location a few days a week. And you've heard her voice now. But I have Shelby Olson who is in the studio with me as a co-host this morning. Shelby is a Licensed Nutritionist with a master's degree in Applied Clinical Nutrition and she works with clients in our Wayzata location.

SHELBY: So we're kind of on the opposite side of the world. For those of you who live in the twin cities, Leah's in Mendota Heights. I'm in Wayzata.

LEAH: Yeah.

SHELBY: We don't get to see each other very often, but, I thought it was really interesting. Leah, you and I both did our undergraduate degree in Exercise Science and then we both went on to do a master’s program in Clinical Nutrition. And here we are getting to kind of nerd out over the microbiome.

LEAH: Absolutely.

SHELBY: So I hope that we can share some of our insights and some of our passion for helping people understand how the microbiome affects their health and what you can do to keep your microbiome working for you, not against you. So good morning everyone. Of course I'm excited to be in the studio here. I believe that understanding the microbiome helps us to see what's going on with our health. But as humans, we are mostly made up of microbes. All of you “germophobes” out here: stick with us; may surprise you that we as humans are mostly made up of microbes. In fact, we have over 100 trillion microbes both on the inside and outside of our bodies. And if you're thinking, “Microbes; what is that?” Those are the tiny living things that are actually too small to see with the naked eye. But they're on your skin. They're in your mouth. They're in that sinus cavity. They’re even in your intestinal tract; really everywhere on the inside and the outside of your body. And we know as we learn more about this research, we have more microbes in our body than we have human cells because there are approximately 10 microbes for every human cell that we have in our body.

LEAH: That's just, those numbers: 100 trillion, 10, you know, 10 times more microbes for every human cell. Those numbers, you almost can't comprehend just how large that is.

SHELBY: Yeah. And the majority of those microbes live in our digestive system, especially in the large intestinal tract or the colon. So, I'm sure you've heard some of the names of these microbes, like bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and even viruses. But in most cases, when people hear bacteria or fungi or virus, they automatically associate that with bad health or disease, right? We've been hearing a lot about the Coronavirus; clearly not something that we associate with good health, but we are learning that not all bacteria, not all microbes overall are bad for our health. So that's really where we want to set that foundation for our discussion.

LEAH: Absolutely. Yeah, there's some that are more neutral, but some that even work for us, like you said earlier, Shelby, they work for us, not necessarily against us. They actually help keep the bad guys in check.

SHELBY: Right. So when we say the word microbiome, that's the good, the bad, the ugly, you know, that is a collection of bacteria, viruses, fungus; all of the above.

LEAH: Yup; absolutely. So now that we know what microbes are, so Shelby did a nice job introducing that topic and some of the names of those microbes. Let me tell you now, so here's more the scientific, nerdy term for microbiome. We know that microbiome is all the genetic material that makes up all of these microbes. So all of those bacteria, the fungi, the protozoa, the viruses, then those guys, they, again, they live on our body, they live inside our body. This is all the genetic material that make up these microbes. So these microbes that are in the microbiome: they help us do a lot of things. So number one kind of first and foremost is they help us digest our food. They help us break it down, absorb everything like that.

SHELBY: I think people have started to buy into that idea a little bit more about, you know, breaking down our food or affecting our digestive system. But tell us a little bit more because there are some other ideas about the microbiome.

LEAH: Right; right. So another huge concept about the microbiome and what they do for us is that it regulates our immune system. We know, and I talk to my clients about this all the time, you know about what is it? 70, 80% of our immune system is in that lining of our digestive tract, especially our intestinal track. So we need all those, we need that, like you said, the good, the bad, the ugly; all of that really lends itself to building up our immune system and keeping some of those bad guys at bay.

SHELBY: So what I'm hearing you say, Leah, is that if you have tummy troubles you may actually be more likely to get a cold or flu.

LEAH: Definitely.

SHELBY: That may be a new idea for you listeners.

LEAH: Yeah, I'm going to share a little bit about that in my story a little later on in the show. So I have some personal history with that.  

SHELBY: Yeah.

LEAH: But the microbiome also, you know, protects us against the bad guys and it helps us produce some of our nutrients; some of our vitamins; specifically B12, so vitamin B12, thiamine, riboflavin, which are a couple other of our B vitamins. And even vitamin K. So it's very interesting that actually they, we don't always necessarily get all of these nutrients from the food itself, but from some of these microbes.

SHELBY: Right; and as I was researching for the show, I was thinking to myself, “Well, are the microbes on my skin the same ones that are in gut?” Right? Because we actually have lots of different microbes on our skin as that protective layer. It's not just a physical barrier. We actually have the bacteria, the fungi, you know, some of these other microbes on our skin. So the short answer is no. The different parts of our body all have different and distinct kind of communities or I sometimes call them families of microbes. The skin has their group or their family of microbes. The vagina has a different family. The intestinal tract has a different family of microbes. Each type of microbe likes to stay with their group or their family, much like humans do.

LEAH: Right. Yeah. We don't travel too far out of that group typically.

SHELBY: Right.

LEAH: Yeah. And another interesting fact is that the microbiome from person to person differs. So your microbiome, Shelby, is not the same as mine.

SHELBY: Right.

LEAH: And it's not the same as your husband's even. It's not the same as my husband's even. So there's lots of differentiation and individuality between people. And that can even differ between twins. Identical twins or fraternal twins: they don't have the same microbiome, even though especially identical twins have that same genetic makeup.

SHELBY: Right.

LEAH: Yeah.

SHELBY: Right.

LEAH: Researchers have found that the microbiome in the intestinal tract from obese twins is different from lean twins. So yeah; so interesting, right? So I think actually we'll put a pin in that and come back to that on the other side of our break?

SHELBY: Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.

LEAH: Okay.

SHELBY: I think we want to talk about them a little bit more.

LEAH: Absolutely. Yes. So you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. And last week, Nutritional Weight and Wellness was featured on the TV program, Twin Cities Live with Elizabeth Reese and Steve Patterson. We invite you to watch this interview. So if you didn't catch it live, we have this on our website at weightandwellness.com. The story was about Madeline who was able to eliminate her back pain many years ago by eating real food. So Madeline was kind of the star of that show, but one of our nutrition therapy counselors, Melanie, and many of you have heard her voice here on the show before. She also was featured to share her simple take on food, which she teaches to her clients in office and also in the classes that she teaches. And she teaches that some foods really are harmful and some foods are healing. So we encourage our students and our clients to always make that choice to eat the healing foods just as Madeline did.

SHELBY: Yeah. We'll be right back.

BREAK

SHELBY: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. For the past five years you guys have been asking us to put together and teach a real food cooking class and I'm so excited to announce that we are offering a 90-minute cooking class at three of our twin cities metro locations. Starting on Tuesday, March 10th, Marianne will be teaching a class in North Oaks from 6:30 to 8:00 PM. The next evening, Wednesday, March 11th, you can catch her at Maple Grove again, 6:30 to 8:00 PM. And then Thursday… She's busy that week. Thursday, March 12th she'll be in our St. Paul location from 6:30 to 8:00 PM. Now this class is titled Cooking Basics: Kitchen Tips. So be sure to come with your questions. We know Marianne, a long time real food chef, is ready to help you make your cooking a more rewarding experience. Now I think the key with Marianne… she's fabulous. She helps to bridge the gap between chef talk and home cook talk. She speaks in layman's terms. So if you are wanting to amplify some of those kitchen skills; you're not really sure where to start; we believe real food is powerful. And we want to give you guys more of the ways to cook at home and feel confident when you're at home. So Marianne is a great resource for you. To sign up for one of these new exciting classes or to learn more, you can call our offices at 651-699-3438 or you can go online to weightandwellness.com. That'll be fun.

LEAH: It will be. I was part of some of like the testing groups that were going on and I thought Marianne just really did a wonderful job keeping it simple but also engaging people, taking questions and really making sure everyone was getting the most out of the classes that they could possibly do. So I think this is just another great kind of experience in helping, like you said, people get some confidence and get some answers to just some of those things that come up when you're cooking; when you're actually trying to make a recipe.

SHELBY: And you know Marianne teaches and cooks the Weight and Wellness Way because she actually caters some of our nutritionist meetings.

LEAH: Yes.

SHELBY: You know it's top quality if she's feeding all of these brains that prioritize real food and good fats and quality proteins.

LEAH: Yes; definitely. Yeah, we've been lucky to be on the receiving end of some of that, so…

SHELBY: So Leah, before we went to break, you were just telling us a little bit more about the different microbiomes between different people. And you had said obviously even people who have the same genetic material like twins for example, can have different microbiomes.

LEAH: Yup. So yeah, let's, let's come back to that thought and then we'll start expanding on that that researchers have found that the microbiome in those intestinal tracts from twins, so they have that same genetic background, but one twin is obese and one twin is lean. They found definitely differences between those microbiomes and specifically researchers have been looking at the differences between people who are obese and people who are lean. And they have found that people who are more obese have less diversity in their microbiomes, in their digestive tracts. And it seems that kind of one big concept that's coming to light is that the more diversity that a person has in their microbiome, so more variety, should we say, is then that leads to better health outcomes or that it, it seems to lend itself to better health.

SHELBY: Exactly, exactly. And research is actually showing that autoimmune diseases are also associated with less diversity in that intestinal microbiome. So you know, for example, type-one diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease and they're finding that when people have these autoimmune diseases, they're starting to see that they have a less diverse intestinal microbiome. So one of the things as nutritionists that we do is we work to identify any nutrition or lifestyle habit that could be going against the good gut bacteria; that could be going against that diversity. So diversity is key and oftentimes people’s symptoms improve, they have less inflammation, they have more energy as their microbiome changes.

LEAH: Yup.

SHELBY: So another word that I think of that just kind of popped into my brain… when I think of microbiome, it's almost like a rain forest or a garden where you want to have a variety of components. You know, if you just have all of, you know, one thing, lacking diversity is actually detrimental to the system overall.

LEAH: Definitely; so we need different kinds of plants. We need different kinds of bugs. We need different kinds of mushrooms and some of that fungi even. So lots of that… and they work symbiotically or they work together in that ecosystem to make sure that things are thriving.

SHELBY: Right. Now, just as the microbiome differs from human twins, it also differs from person to person even when they grow up in the same house and have the same parents or that same genetic predisposition. So the very ability in each individual's intestinal microbiome may explain why different people respond to different foods. You know, so, you know, we have some family members that maybe have a sensitivity to eggs, you know, maybe someone has a gluten sensitivity, you know, there are lots of different influences on our microbiome. But I think Leah, one question that I want to ask the listeners and I want to pose for our discussion today is, “If we know diversity's important, how do we maintain, well first and foremost, we should start about how do we get diversity in our microbiome and how do we maintain that diversity?” So, you know, we've got a few big picture ideas that we just want to put together here and then we're going to go into further detail as our show goes on. So we know that babies who are born vaginally have exposure to that mucosal membrane in the vaginal canal. It happens to all of us. It's a part of nature. That's the way it is. Now, babies who are breastfed or babies who are bottle-fed with a probiotic supplement: that's another way that we can get that foundation of bacteria. We also know, as I've been learning with some of my new mama friends, skin to skin contact with family is really important. So once baby's born, we want mom, we want dad, we want siblings, you know, anyone in that immediate family to have that skin-to-skin contact with newborns because that helps them develop their microbiome.

LEAH: Yeah. So that's, I mean, interesting Shelby that you bring that up. So when we ask clients in the counseling room, you know, “Were you born, you know, did you, were you born via vaginal birth or C-section birth?” And they give you a funny look like, why are you asking about that?

SHELBY: Right.

LEAH: It's because, you know, it can make a difference. It's something that it's good for us to know, just thinking about going back to how you were born can impact that microbiome and can impact some of that diversity. So it is important.

SHELBY: It's so funny you mention that because just this week I was talking with a new client and I asked her, “Were you breastfed as a baby?” And she goes, “No one's ever asked me that. I don't know.” And thankfully her mom is still alive and she's like, “I'm going to have to ask her about that.” But we know we can have that exposure in those first few months, even the first few years. And that makes a difference with the diversity and the microbiome. I think we've got some other ideas as well, but you know what? We've got to go to break.

LEAH: Yeah, absolutely. So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. And today our show is focused on helping you understand three big questions. So what is the microbiome? How does the microbiome affect your health? And how do you support the diversity in your microbiome, which is just what we left off with so we will answer more of those questions so we come back.

BREAK

SHELBY: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. The week of March 23rd our Nutrition for Weight Loss classes start at all seven of our metro locations. And if you sign up by March 16th you can save some money; $50 off with our early bird special. Now Leah, I know you teach Nutrition for Weight Loss. I teach our Nutrition for Weight Loss series. And really as nutritionists and nutrition educators, we have some very specific goals with this program. First and foremost, my goal is to help people reduce cravings because when they can reduce their cravings, they can lose weight.

LEAH: Okay. I was going to say the title of the class says weight loss. Would be number one? But cravings you said, actually getting cravings under control is key to weight loss.

SHELBY: And that's what I tell people. If you're having cravings, all of a sudden the fast food, the sugar, the kind of processed foods seem more appealing. So when we eat in balance, the Nutrition for Weight Loss program is designed to help reduce cravings and support weight loss. And then you know, more of an advanced goal… we're telling our all of our secrets here. More of an advanced goal as a nutritionist is to help you reduce your pain and inflammation. So food is very powerful. Now if you want to learn more, you can go to weightandwellness.com. You can read about all of the benefits. You can of course get the cost. While you're on the website though, check out some of our success stories. This is a life changing program. You can learn more on our website or you can call 651-699-3438 to get any of your questions answered.

LEAH: Yeah, perfect.

SHELBY: Yeah.

LEAH: So Shelby, we left off before break talking about how we get some of that diversity, which is key for the health of our microbiome; how we get some of that diversity, even starting very early on in life.

SHELBY: Yes.

LEAH: Yeah. So I'm going to plug in at just a couple more things that, you know, researchers have been looking at that early life development and how, where that microbiome comes into play.

SHELBY: Right.

LEAH: Yup. And so researchers, they have found some interesting observations. So this is for all of our dog lovers out there. Shelby, both you and I, we both own dogs as part of the family. They have found that researchers, researchers have found, excuse me, that infants who live in homes with dogs are generally less likely to develop childhood allergies because the infant's microbiome becomes more diverse for those microbiomes because, well we know dogs, they like to chase sorts of things. They like to sniff around at all sorts of things. They like to roll at a lot of things.

SHELBY: Right.

LEAH: So they pick up a lot of different things; bugs.

SHELBY: For better, for worse.

LEAH: For better, for worse. Yep, exactly. So they pick up a lot of things and then they have contact with an infant, you know, maybe they like to lick them or the infant likes to pet them. And that's, you know, again, leads to some more of diversity for that infant.

SHELBY: Right.

LEAH: And then another thing, thinking about… well and I think about this now with my 18-month old, that age-old saying, you know, just let kids play in the dirt, get dirty because we pick up just lots of different microbes from the soil, from the dirt that helps lend itself to some of that diversity.

SHELBY: And Leah, that's so funny because that just really brings me back to my childhood. Most summers when I was growing up, I would go stay with my great aunt Charlie who is just the most amazing, she calls herself an old tough bird or an old farm lady. So I'm, I'm not, these aren't my words. These are hers. But one of the things she always kind of recounts is when I was staying at her house in the summer, she had a huge garden; vegetable garden, flower garden, really this kind of microbiome, so to speak, in her backyard. And she says, “I will never forget. You would dig a potato out and you would eat it like it's an apple or you would pull a red pepper, you know, off the plant. You didn't care if it was washed or anything like that. You would just eat it raw.” And she says, “We need, you know, as a, as a human, we need the vegetables of course.” But she said, “Sometimes the dirt isn't so bad either for us.”

LEAH: Yeah, definitely. A little dirt with those microbes just lends itself to that diversity.

SHELBY: Exactly; exactly. So listeners, here's a question that may grab the attention of many of you. How might microbes be affecting our weight? We know that weight gain, obesity and how well your metabolism works is very complex. It's not calories in, calories out like we were told in the past. It's just not that simple.

LEAH: And when it comes to how well our metabolism works, there's several possible answers that researchers have kind of started sussing out at this point. They've found that gut microbes: they may influence your appetite. So they may make you feel more or less hungry; or depending on that makeup of your microbiome, certain foods may give you gas or bloating after eating or they may cause more inflammation in the body.

SHELBY: Right.

LEAH: So after working with hundreds, and I would even say thousands of clients at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, we have found our clients experience, they experience fewer cravings just like you said a couple minutes ago, Shelby. And they're able to lose weight then easier just by adding in some of that beneficial bacteria. We talk a lot about bifidobacteria being a big player there.

SHELBY: Right; right. Now when we say beneficial bacteria, we may also use the word probiotic. I'm sure many of you listening have heard the term probiotic, but when we break that word down, “pro” means for; “biotic” means life. So we know that that bacteria is supporting life. And I have to catch myself. I'll, I'll be very transparent. We understand as nutritionists and dieticians how important bacteria is for our overall health. But just because this is something we do day in and day out doesn't mean that every person out there can quickly make that connection between, “Oh, my tummy troubles are coming from a lack of good bacteria” or “My brain fog is coming from a lack of good bacteria.” So, I think as health professionals, we need to step back and really acknowledge when we say, “Oh, we know this.” We're speaking from our experience, not this definitive idea that, “Oh, you don't know this?” You know, not a judgment or anything like that. So, when we think about clients who are able to say, “No, thank you” to cookies and candy or those other sweets, we find that the beneficial bacteria plays a role in their cravings and kind of that brain chemistry. So the beneficial bacteria support diversity in the microbiome. We've got more beneficial bacteria and oftentimes that beneficial bacteria crowds out the bad bacteria. So it's a balancing act.

LEAH: Yeah.

SHELBY: When we have the probiotics in our food and perhaps even in a supplement, we start to change that microbiome in a, in a healthful way.

LEAH: And people feel better then. They start to notice then less inflammation. The cravings start to go. Their brain starts to work a little bit better. So that's how it starts to show up for people's bodies.

SHELBY: Now, Leah, I know your brain works like mine where you want to understand the science behind things, but how did you come to look more at the gut and the microbiome?

LEAH: Oh my goodness. We want to go back that far, huh? Yeah. So Shelby, like you mentioned before, like some of this information really is new for our listeners or for our clients, but all of us at one point were “newbies” to this. We were all, we all did not have this understanding and I was in that camp for sure. I will say they do not teach you this in dietetic school and things like that. So for me, thinking back, I, my, I usually start my stories in class saying that for me, I know my health troubles began and end in the gut. And for those of my clients who have had those tummy troubles or had intestinal issues for years or sometimes even decades, we know that truth all so well that when you, when your gut’s out of balance you just, everything else in the body feels off kilter.

And so for me, when I think back, I think back to like right around like midway through college is when I started noticing digestive issues for myself. It would be like gas and bubbles and bloating and it didn't really seem, at least in that time I couldn't really track or figure out, “Okay, what's causing this.” There wasn't a specific food or anything like that. So now fast forward a couple of years, it morphed into like loose bowel movements several times a day. And it continued for years even after graduation and when I was starting out in the workforce and things like that. During this time I also developed arthritic knee pain as a soccer player, I've been a soccer player since I was nine, so my knees have taken of like a brunt of, of my physical activity. But in my twenties I was like, “Why am I having so much knee pain? I don't think this is normal.” So this is those questions that you start to ask yourself at that point.

SHELBY: Right.

LEAH: And my anxiety would seemingly hit out of nowhere.

SHELBY: Yeah.

LEAH: And I remember my low point being, I had been out of college for a couple of years now and I remember, I don't even remember what set off that very first thing, but my digestive kind of defense system was so low that I had three bouts of food poisoning over the course of three months.

SHELBY: Wow.

LEAH: So and…

SHELBY: That's uncomfortable.

LEAH: Very uncomfortable. It was not a fun three months. I will say that. So this was something I was like, I didn't put together and make those connections right away. It actually wasn't until I went back to school and I was in my graduate program that I was even introduced to the idea of the gut microbiome and how, you know, maybe some of this could play a role just in how we, how we feel; our health and things like that.

SHELBY: And really it sounds like it started out slowly. It started out like maybe some of these symptoms were like, “Oh they come and go. I'm not going to worry about them.” Oh you know, maybe talking about the knee pain and thinking, “Well, I’m an athlete.” But then the three bouts of food poisoning in three months was kind of like your body being, “Leah, we've got to do something different. We've got to do something different here.” So I would love to talk a little bit more about the microbiome and some of the practical things. But Leah, can you take us to break?

LEAH: Yes, let's do that. We'll come back on the other side of break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. And I want to remind everyone out there that I recently wrote a blog post about the microbiome. So it was dated February 18th of 2020, so if you want to just go a little more in depth to what we're talking about today here in the studio, you can go to our website, weightandwellness.com. Click on the link at the top. That's blog and articles and things like that and you'll find my article. It's titled: What is the Microbiome? What Does It Do and How to Keep It Healthy. And then next Saturday we have a really fascinating show planned for you called Estrogeneration: How Estrogenics are Making You Fat, Sick and Infertile. So join Dar and Marcie and we're going to have a special guest. His name is Dr. Anthony Jay. He's got a PhD. And they're going to talk through some of the highlights in his book, which is that Estrogneration title. So if you know someone out there who has breast cancer or who has had breast cancer or you have thyroid issues, this is the show for you for lots of great information and answers and much more.

SHELBY: We’ll be right back.

BREAK

SHELBY: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. For all of you listeners out there that like a good deal, I just want to let you know that today, Saturday, February 29th is the final day of our 15% off sale. So that means you can get 15% off all Nutrikey products like our Bifido bacteria, like our Vitamin D, even like our Wellness Whey Protein Powder. But you can also receive 15% off counseling. So if some of these ideas about the microbiome have resonated with you this morning, maybe set up an appointment with one of our Weight and Wellness nutritionists. Now you don't have to use it today if you want to take advantage of that discount.

LEAH: We’d be awfully busy then.

SHELBY: But just know that if you purchase or if you've set up your counseling session today, our front desk will make sure that you get that 15% off when you do actually have your appointments. So that's a really fun thing for us to be able to offer 15% off all Nutrikey products. You can order those at Nutrikey, our website. You can go to weightandwellness.com and click on products. You can also learn more about how we work with people by going to our website: weightandwellness.com or you can call the office: (651) 699-3438. And for those of you who like a little of the kind of inside scoop, a little birdie told me that our product of the month for March is going to be the probiotic Bifido bacteria. So we're talking good gut health through the month of March. So keep an eye on that if that's something that you want to start taking or you know you already are taking.

LEAH: Well that's a perfect segue for what we're talking about today.

SHELBY: Yes it is. So before we went to break, Leah, you were talking a little bit more about how you started to realize that your gut microbiome was less diverse than you would have liked.

LEAH: That’s to be put mildly.

SHELBY: The understatement; but as we mentioned earlier, a healthy gut tends to have more diversity and we know that anything that might cause a loss of species diversity in the gut or causes more of a shift towards harmful microbes or even having fewer of the beneficial bacteria and yeast and those sorts of things, those can all have a negative impact on our health. They show up very differently for different people. So, you know, research is still ongoing about all the ways our microbiome influences our health. But you know, short of collecting and analyzing your own stool, here are some signs, some body signs that your microbiome is in distress. So this is kind of your body's way of communicating with you: heartburn, gas, maybe bloating or cramping or pain, having any of that indigestion, constipation, of course, diarrhea and loose stools is your body trying to ask for help; having early fullness or even feeling nauseous or on the verge of feeling like you have to vomit; IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or even some inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's disease and colitis. I was listening to a microbiologist talk about the connection between different fungi and Crohn's disease. So we could probably talk an entire show about that. But colon cancer is another one that pops up here. We know that people who have sufficient bifidobacteria can reduce their risk of colon cancer by 50%.

LEAH: That's no small number.

SHELBY: No, no. So if you have any tummy troubles, you want to look at increasing the diversity in your microbiome.

LEAH: Yup. And Shelby, you listed a whole bunch of digestive symptoms related to how might we see some of that imbalance in the microbiome. But the tricky part is some of these symptoms can also be non-digestive system related. So we've mentioned brain fog a couple of times. So just how your brain functions is a huge indicator of the health of your gut. But other, and we also mentioned autoimmune diseases, things like rheumatoid arthritis, type-one diabetes, MS, Crohn’s. So that being said, it's so important to feed the microbiome the foods that it likes, giving it the diversity through probiotics and feeding into that gut microbiome.

SHELBY: Okay, so here's a big question. How should I eat to feed my microbiome?

LEAH: Yes.

SHELBY: Everyone’s on the edge of their seats, right?

LEAH: We waited until the end of the show to put it in there.

SHELBY: Here's some good news listeners: 60% of our microbial diversity is impacted by our food choices and our microbes are relatively quick to adapt and shift to changes in our diet. Really the research that I was looking at in terms of yeast and fungi: those can shift within a 24-hour period of changing our diet, but that means getting the sugar out, getting the processed foods out. That means we have the power to have a major impact on our gut health and even our brain health and our joints and all aspects of our body by changing that diversity, and that really goes back to what we put in our mouths.

I've seen this time and time again, so it's, it's very common for me to make those connections between good bacteria and good health, but the answer is really quite simple. Our microbiome thrives on fiber and the flavonoids in whole vegetables and fruit. So eating one to three cups of vegetables at most meals: that is a take home message today. When you have adequate fiber… now as an adult, how many grams of fiber are you asking your clients to eat, Leah?

LEAH: Usually I'm aiming for somewhere around 25.

SHELBY: 25 to 30 grams of fiber. That means you've got to be eating vegetables throughout the day.

LEAH: Not just at dinner.

SHELBY: Right.

LEAH: That would be really uncomfortable to get in 25 grams of fiber in one meal.

SHELBY: Right. And we know that the fiber helps with that diversity, and if some of those vegetable choices can come from fermented foods, that's great too.

Each kind of traditional culture has their own probiotic-rich or fermented foods; so one to two tablespoons of sauerkraut. Maybe you add kimchi or fermented carrots or fermented beets or maybe you're Scandinavian and you want to add in whole milk or full-fat kefir, Bulgarian style yogurts. Those are some of the real food options that help to supply your microbiome with the good gut bacteria and to support the other microbes in our body. So, Leah, as we're kind of coming up on the last minute of our show here, really, do you have any other tips or tricks that, that you'd share with people besides vegetables and fiber? Anything else that you did personally to change that diversity in your microbiome? Because you're, you're feeling a lot different now than you were, right?

LEAH: Absolutely. No, really, I learned about the microbiome during my graduate studies, but it really wasn't until I changed how I ate and really focused on those real foods that after, I would say at the three week mark, I was like, “Oh, this is a lot better than what it was before.”

SHELBY: Right.

LEAH: And one big thing that I was doing was consuming a lot of artificial sweeteners. So I'll, I'll kind of leave that out there with people too.

SHELBY: Our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience…

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