Gut Microbiome - Preventable Diseases and Definitions
Our microbiome is so important. And the reason is, if we don't watch what we're eating and eat the wrong things and have a lot of bad bacteria in our gut, we can cause up to 11 diseases. I'm just going to name them off quickly. Celiac disease, Crohn's disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, that a third of the people in the country have got, hepatitis, colitis, multiple sclerosis, type 2 diabetes, 30% of the people in the US are prediabetic and 10% actually have it, lupus, irritable bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. And many of them have three other conditions: small intestine bowel overgrowth, small intestine fungi overgrowth, and irritable bowel syndrome. So imagine if we don't have the right healthy gut microbiome, any of these can happen. When you look at the percentages of people who have them, almost everybody has one of them.
Let's start with a couple of definitions. Many people think that the gut is just the stomach. Well, actually our gut is our whole digestive system that goes all the way from when we take food in till all the rest comes out. All of that's called our gut, our entire digestive system. Our microbiome is what's in our entire digestive system or what's in our gut. And our gut is full of trillions of bacteria, viruses, fungi, worms. It's mainly bacteria, and there are five pounds of bacteria in our microbiome. And of course, there are good and bad bacteria. Probiotics is the name of the good bacteria in our gut. Prebiotics is the food our good bacteria like to eat.
Many of you have heard of probiotic supplements. Their job is to add good, live bacteria to our microbiome. Having a majority of good bacteria in our microbiome will greatly increase lifespan, and having the majority of bad bacteria will lead to all those diseases I mentioned. So there's a lot at stake here with our microbiome. Just to give you some ideas about prebiotics, that is the food, mostly high-fiber food, that our probiotics, the good bacteria, like to eat in certain fruit: raspberries, apples, papaya, avocado, chicory root, which is essentially 68% insoluble fiber. So great, great. The microbiome loves, the prebiotics, love them. And certain vegetables: asparagus, okra, mushrooms, flaxseed, shallots and leeks, seaweed, all leafy green vegetables, yams, parsnips, sweet potatoes. So all those foods are great to eat. They're called prebiotic food because our probiotics, the good bacteria in our gut, love to eat them.
Now our gut, the microbiome in our gut, is connected by the vagus nerve, the biggest nerve in our body, that goes from our stem cell in our brain to the heart, the lungs, and to our gut. And there are eight times as many messages that flow from our gut to the brain as there are from the brain to the gut. So our gut microbiome then influences our thoughts, our actions, our sense of smell, and our cravings. They don't actually come from the brain. They come from the gut going to the brain, so the brain will let us know. So many of the researchers now call our gut the second brain. And it kind of leads to, we were chatting earlier, about the term the gut instinct.
Another great part of the gut is it has a lining. It's a strong lining, but it's very thin. It protects our gut from anything bad coming into the gut. It prevents the bacteria in our gut from getting out to our blood, bloodstream, lymph system, and organs. So once the bacteria will pass through the gut lining, they ignite the immune system causing this widespread chronic inflammation. So a term we've all heard. If you've been listening to the other podcasts, we're talking about chronic inflammation in every single podcast, and that can result in what many of the listeners have heard as a leaky gut syndrome. That's what leads to those 10 diseases and 11 conditions.