Your microbiome is everything
Your gut bacteria reflect everything about you, including: your parents’ health, how and where you were born, what you’ve eaten (including whether your first sips were breast milk or formula), where you’ve lived, your occupation, personal hygiene, past infections, exposure to chemicals and toxins, medications, hormone levels, and even your emotions... (1) Our microbiome, by intelligent design, is as unique as our fingerprint. And at Functional Self, you will see us celebrate people’s individuality through our much-loved fingerprint logo.
At times we may slip into unhealthy habits, drawing us closer to “dis-ease”. Like dominoes, one system will affect many other adjacent systems’ downstream metabolic processes. Large populations of tiny gut species facilitate biological functioning; and if you consider your biological vessel as whole, you may not be surprised that the gut shares sophisticated associations to our brain hormones, mouth oral biome, and mood.
Gut Health x Oral Health
The mouth and gut are intricately linked through nine meters of highly specialised organs collectively known as the digestive tract. Both the intestines and mouth sustain unique microbiomes that directly affect one another, positively and negatively, bidirectionally.
For example, disruptions to the oral microbial balance can arise from lip or cheek abrasion, stress or nutritional deficiencies tipping the delicate microbial balance toward proliferation of harmful pathogenic species. Harmful bacteria from the mouth can travel along the digestive tract to infect distal (further away) biomes like the gut, or seep through tiny blood vessels to compromise the entire circulation system(2). Once these pathogens become the dominating species, they wreak havoc in the gut microbiome and body, causing inflammation and organ dysfunction.
Alternatively, if the gut is dysfunctional, it can upset the mouth. A weakened gut will affect how we digest, absorb and assimilate valuable nutrients from our food. For example,
- Swollen tongue can be a sign of vitamin deficiency or immune imbalance
- Lesions or candida infections can be from bacteria or fungi overgrowths
- Red and inflamed gums can indicate poor mineral absorption(3)
“The oral microbiome seeds and feeds the gut microbiome” - Dr Hisham.
Be sure to keep your oral health in-check with Dr Hisham’s Dental Care System – a dentist-designed range to specifically nurture and support a healthy oral-biome. Dr Hisham’s Tooth Serum, for instance, contains no abrasives or harmful detergents found in most mainstream toothpastes that can actually injure gums and tooth enamel. The Tooth Serum has additional functions other than a “toothpaste”. Apply it on oral sores to aid healing, smooth a small application around the mouth as a saliva replacement, freshen breath and soothe sensitive teeth and gums.
Gut-Brain Axis x Alzheimer’s Disease
Science is hungry to unravel the secrets hidden in the deeply interconnected biology of the human body. The nervous system and digestive system, for instance, produce and respond to the same neurotransmitters: GABA, serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, acetylcholine and melatonin. In the gut, these enzymes affect the intestinal fluid and electrolyte transport(4), inhibits gastric acid secretion(5), increases bacterial species(6), and stimulates exocrine secretions(7) respectively. In the brain these same hormones offer calming effects, arousal, attention, happiness, memory and sleep. Researchers are discovering innovative therapies to modify the microbiome and help prevent or treat diseases.
Lifestyle factors and genetic dispositions can lead to hormonal imbalance. Disequilibrium can easily turn the tides, and a host can succumb to disorder. To illustrate, Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) patients have found to have a dramatic decline of Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes species in the gut, which is linked to local intestinal inflammation. In their absence, inflammation levels in the plasma rise, which subsequently affects the Central Nervous System(8).
Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes species may have protective qualities:
- Decrease TLR-2 and TLR-4 expression: potent inducers of the inflammatory responses(9)
- Decreases the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines
- Reducing common biomarkers of inflammation, including C-reactive protein (CRP)
Gut-Brain Axis x Depression
Melancholy, depression and despondency is on the sharp incline, and so is the associated GI-related diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and irritable bowel disorder (IBD). With advances in genomic sequencing and new therapeutic interventions the gut microbiota stands out as a key component in regulating brain processes and behaviour(10).
The key to a healthy, resilient emotional state may rest with the therapeutic addition of protective gut species.
Insights from the Flemish Gut Flora Project cohort study discovered that depressed individuals repeatedly showed very low levels of Coprococcus and Dialister gut species within their biome(11). These two species have important functions to support the synthesis of 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid, a breakdown product of the neurotransmitter dopamine well known as the action and reward-related neuromodulator.
A recent study also found Butyrate-producing Faecalibacterium bacteria were consistently associated with higher quality of life indicators(12). Researches conclude monitoring Faecalibacterium levels may serve as a biomarker to assist with gut disease diagnostics in the near future(13).
The mechanisms by which intestine microbial homeostasis leads to whole body health is under thorough investigation, and is thought to involve alterations of the enteric nervous system, immune system, and metabolic pathways. Protective gut species have found to improve mood disorders such as depression; combat brain inflammation in Alzheimer’s Disease; and support a thriving oral biome. At Functional Self we strive to offer the very best in high-quality probiotics to help you along your health journey.