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Microbiome Health

Food choices influence the body in far greater ways than just energy in/energy out. The GI tract from the mouth to anus consists of over 1,000 different species of microbes that live and flourish as the largest and most diverse microbiome in the human body. Research on this topic is still in its infancy and some call the GI tract the hidden brain or second brain.

Research has shown that the microbiome plays an important role in various diseases like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD or Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis), colorectal cancer, diabetes, allergic reactions, and obesity in addition to mood and behavior disorders. The gut microbiome evolves within the individual over time and is dependent on dietary habits, lifestyle, environmental factors, stress, and age [13].

Dysbiosis or disruption of the healthy microbiota is considered the trigger for many diseases. Studies have shown that the American diet—high-fat, low-plant foods, high-animal fat—produces a less diverse GI microbiome [14]. A high-fiber diet with a variety of plant foods promotes variety and increases diversity in microbiota.

Different people have different microbiota combinations that can have a dramatic impact on their weight and health. The consensus of numerous studies is that weight gain is caused by an abundance of Firmicute bacteria while leanness is associated with Bacteroides bacteria [15]. Follow-up research has focused on why firmicutes are associated with obesity. It appears that they impact carbohydrate and fat metabolism [16].

Studies have shown that firmicute levels reduce in obese individuals who undergo gastric bypass surgery [17]. The improvement in gut microbiota balance appears soon after gastric bypass surgery and seems to contribute to insulin sensitivity before any substantial weight is lost.

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