This is How Bacteria Controls Your Health
The human microbiome refers to the vast, community of bacteria that inhabit and live in and on every part of our body. The bacteria that reside in our gut are referred to as our microbiota. Scientists are now uncovering the profoundly significant role our microbiota plays in human health. Nearly every scientific study performed that has attempted to correlate the microbiota with specific human traits or diseases has been successful. In other words; studies are finding that our bacteria plays a significant role in obesity, heart disease, diabetes, celiac disease, autism, cancers, multiple sclerosis and other inflammatory auto-immune diseases. There is also, mounting evidence and research that our microbiota influences our mood, energy and focus.
The microbiota of every person is as unique as a finger print. There are over 2 million different microbial species that produce species-specific biochemicals. The consumption of food creates chemical compounds through bacterial fermentation, that are absorbed by our colon, and then transmitted throughout the rest of our body. Nurturing our intestinal bacteria so they produce the biochemical compounds our body needs, is the most important thing we can do for our health. These trillions of bacteria set the dial on our immune system. If gut bacteria is healthy, the immune system runs well to fight off infections and malignancies. If your gut bacteria is not healthy, the immune system is not able to fight off inflammation and disease.
The enviornment in our gut dictates what species of bacteria will survive and thrive. For example, a species of bacteria that rely on mucous for food, will struggle to survive in a gut where mucous is sparse and thin. Bulk up on whole food fiber from plants, which produce chemicals that initiate the production of the protective mucous in our body, then they will make a come-back.
Trimethylamine Oxide or TMAO is a toxic chemical that is produced by a species of gut bacteria that scientists have found abundant in the gut of meat eaters. Lecithin and Carnitine are nutrient chemicals abundant in animal based foods and also provide our microbiota with the necessary resources for TMAO synthesis. Microbiologists, Erica and Justin Sonnenburg discuss this chemical in depth in their book “The Good Gut”. They discuss how if abundant, TMAO can predict impending heart attacks and stroke. Scientists have found very low to no circulating TMAO in the blood of plant-based and vegan people. Researchers found a 5 year vegan to eat a steak to test the amount of circulating TMAO. They found very low serum TMAO, even after eating the steak. This is because long time vegans have species of bacteria that are no adept at producing TMAO. In another study the Sonnenburgs conducted, researchers gave plant-based individuals and omnivores the same exact meat heavy meal, thinking that the same chemical reaction in their gut might occur. What they found, was that chemical reactions in both guts were vastly different. The omnivores had significantly high serum TMAO levels, because the omnivore has more of the species of bacteria that produces TMAO. Serum levels of TMAO in the plant-based individuals remained very low to non-existant. Same meal, different chemical consequences. If the plant-based individual were to continue consuming meat, they would eventually become high producers of TMAO as more carnitine synthesizing bacteria is produced. If the omnivores began consuming less meat, then they would become lower producers of TMAO.
We have been led to believe that our human DNA cells and genes are the main predictor of our future health. In reality, the trillions of bacteria in our gut are like little drug factories producing all of the chemicals that either lead to health or disease. The environment we create for it based on the food we eat and our lifestyle, controls the survival of good and bad bacteria and therefore the diseases we may or may not aquire.