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  • Writer's pictureMegan Vardeman, PA-C

Gut Health and Your Microbiome What is the gut microbiome and why is it so important?

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

You might have heard that your gut’s microbiome is an important key to your overall health. But what is a microbiome? We term the various microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, yeast and fungi) that live in your gut “microbiota.” We refer to all of their collective genetic material as your “microbiome.” Did you know that your gut is likely home to over 1,000 different species of bacteria?(1) These species play a wide variety of roles that support our metabolic and immune functioning and overall health and well-being, and a broad diversity within the microbiome seems to be an important component to basic gut health. I think we tend to believe our gut health is limited to its primary function. Meaning, we consume and then we excrete waste. It seems most people recognize our microbiome’s importance for digestion. Are you feeling bloated? Are you constipated? Do you have diarrhea or stomach cramping? We seem to readily understand that certain probiotic and prebiotic foods or supplements can help with these symptoms, but we don’t always appreciate what more they could be doing for us.

The truth is the microorganisms in our gut have a much broader role. Researchers are working increasingly to map out the gut-brain axis, which is the link between the emotional and cognitive centers of our brain and our peripheral intestinal functions. The microbiota play an important role in the immune, hormonal, and nerve-mediated communications that comprise the gut-brain axis, and dysregulation of the microbiota, or “dysbiosis” has been linked to various psychiatric disease states such as depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and neurodevelopmental disorders like autism and ADHD.(2) It’s estimated that more than 95% of serotonin is found in the GI tract.(3) Serotonin is a key neurotransmitter and often thought of as our “feel good” hormone, playing an important role in depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric conditions. The bottom line is, our gut and its state of health or disease plays an important role in nearly every aspect of our body’s functioning, from the obvious role of digestion to our mental health, our energy levels, how well our immune system is functioning, and so much more.

At YWP, we take your gut health seriously. We understand how important gut health is to general wellbeing, which is why optimizing it is one of the first steps we take to get you feeling better. We take a “5 R’s” approach to helping you clean up your biofilm: Remove (pathogens), Replace (digestive support), Re-inoculate (syn-biotics), Repair (leaky gut), and Rebalance (lifestyle factors). We utilize specialized lab testing to take a seriously deep look into your gut health. Many of our patients will submit a stool sample that is then analyzed for the presence of pathogens, dysbiosis, inflammation, evidence of maldigestion, and more, allowing us to target our interventions to get you feeling better. We also talk with you about your diet, and we are trained to look and listen carefully for signs that your diet might be working against you instead of supporting you, as it should (you can read more about that in our related post “What is leaky gut syndrome?”). We work with you throughout the entire process, step by step, to get you feeling your absolute best.

Reach out to us! We would love to help!

1. Sirisinha, S. (2016). The potential impact of gut microbiota on your health: Current status and future challenges. Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol, 34(4), 249-264.

2. Curr Psychiatry Rep 2021 March 12;23(5):22.

3. Kim, Doe-Young, and Michael Camilleri. "Serotonin: a mediator of the brain-gut connection." The American journal of gastroenterology 95.10 (2000): 2698.

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