WHAT’S THE STORY WITH YOUR MICROBIOME?
The human microbiome is a fascinating, emerging area of science and clinical research. Assessing the microbial diversity throughout your body holds promise in looking at how our body’s cohabitants work in synergy with or parasitism against its host.
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Your life story is one of your most valuable assets. It contains everything you need to navigate your health and wellness. When you take the time to look at it, your story also connects all of the dots that make you, YOU! You are made of not only the genetic blueprint you were born with, but your environment, your experiences, your choices, and yes, the state of a little-known, hidden organ: your microbiome. Let’s find out how!
What is my microbiome?
Do you know that your body is home to around 100 trillion microscopic organisms living and working in delicate balance? To put that number in perspective, the height of a stack of one hundred trillion (100,000,000,000,000) one dollar bills measures 6,786,616 miles – this would reach from the earth to the moon and back 14 times!! These microorganisms even outnumber your human cells 10 to 1! In fact, you have more foreign microbes within your body than human cells, and when you consider DNA, only 1% of your body’s gene expression is performed by human genes. The rest is by your unique microbiome!
These diverse, complex communities of microbes live on your skin, in your mouth, in your intestines and elsewhere. It is estimated that there are over 10,000 different types of microorganisms living within our bodies, and each of us carry a distinctive manifestation of microbial diversity, just like a fingerprint!
Your unique microbiome started as soon as you were born and is continually influenced by your diet, your experiences, what you’ve been exposed to and where you live. You depend on these complex social networks of microorganisms to help break down nutrients and produce important vitamins and enzymes in your digestive system, which in turn strengthens your immune system. Are you starting to see how important your microbiome is to your life story?
What happens if my microbiome is out of balance?
When this healthy community of microorganisms gets tipped out of balance, certain types of bacteria can grow out of control, causing illness. It’s easy then to see how the microbiome is being linked to so many areas of health, including obesity, autoimmune disease, diabetes, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, colorectal cancer and more! It’s also the reason why dieting might not have worked for you in the past. Scientists have even identified that your microbiome influences your mood and behavior via bacteria and other microbes signaling pathways throughout your body, which influences your brain chemistry.
There is a plethora of research out there, so let’s look at some quick details to give you an idea of how this imbalance can show up in your story:
Obesity and Gastrointestinal Disease
Obesity, metabolic syndrome, and gastrointestinal disease are all influenced by our gut microbiome. Studies have indicated that the health of our microbiome can influence how our body uses energy from the food we eat. It can also have an effect on our genes that regulate how that energy is utilized and stored.
Our microbiome controls our immune system more than we realize. In one surprising study, researchers found that bacteria in the small intestines of mice and humans can travel to other organs, where they may trigger an autoimmune response.
Our gut microbiome is associated with both type I and type II diabetes and the complications that come with it. The TEDDY study, which is looking for the environmental causes of type 1 diabetes (T1D) in children, suggests that early microbiome influences may contribute to T1D risk and disease progression.
Our gut microbiome has been shown to influence depression, cognition, behavior, and neural development. Studies are beginning to demonstrate the importance of the gut-brain axis and suggest that triggers for a variety of neurological diseases can be found in the microbiome of the gastrointestinal tract.
Microbes are involved in the development of Alzheimer’s pathology. Researchers have found evidence that bacteria can influence Alzheimer’s symptoms by triggering and sustaining inflammation pathways in the brain.
Our gut microbiota has been linked to Parkinson’s disease. In studies with mice, researchers have found that changes in the microbiome may set off Parkinson’s disease by negatively affecting the brain and triggering motor symptoms.
Certain bacteria have been linked to atherosclerosis, an all-too-common heart condition. Evidence is starting to show that variations in our microbiome can affect high blood lipid levels, such as triglycerides and cholesterol, which leads to cardiovascular disease.
Shifts in the makeup of our gut microbiome are associated with colorectal cancer. Animal and human studies have shown that dysbiosis in the gut microbiome has been found in patients with colorectal cancer, which resulted in pro-inflammatory pathogens and a decrease in butyrate-producing bacteria, which helps to protect the mucosal lining of our intestines.
What can my microbiome tell me?
Enhanced microbial species biodiversity is associated with overall wellness. Assessment of the state of your microbiome can aid in the identification of the ideal macronutrient ratios of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats for your diet. It can also help determine the foods that are most compatible with your body, which can assist in compiling an individualized dietary and supplement recommendation that will help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, increase your energy and focus, and contribute to your overall well being.
Microbiome testing identifies the microbial species associated with disease and poor health so that an effective, personalized treatment plan can be made. It can diagnose dysbiosis disease states, including small intestinal (fungal/bacterial) overgrowth. We can then cultivate beneficial (but missing) bacteria with probiotic supplements and identify prebiotics that enhance the growth of beneficial microbes and promote metabolite health. This process downregulates toxic metabolites and enhances assimilation through optimized digestion and absorption.
How can The Institute for Human Optimization assist me?
The Institute for Human Optimization is exploring the genetic code of the microbiome and is seeking to better understand how the microbiome promotes wellness or enables disease, and how that knowledge can be harnessed to enhance the practice of precision medicine. We are finding new ways to keep the microbiome healthy, repaired, and use its power to prevent and treat disease.
The testing technology we offer is used routinely in clinical and academic research because it provides highly-accurate quantification, as well as high levels of sensitivity and specificity. This information allows us to make early diagnoses and design new and more effective personalized, preventive therapies to optimize your life.
The promise of precision medicine begins with your story. We provide the most comprehensive, data-driven approach to wellness. It is:
- Predictive – We use genomics and advanced biomarker testing for risk stratification and empowerment.
- Personalized – We use data-driven health information to curate actionable change for disease mitigation and prevention.
- Preventive – We utilize highly individualized programs tailored to your unique genomic blueprint.
- Participatory – We empower engagement in personal choices, which allows for improved outcomes and enhanced results.
And so, here’s where our stories converge. Let’s begin a new chapter together.