Did you know that there are more bacteria in us and on us than there are of our own human cells? That includes bacteria, fungi, viruses, and more. These microorganisms play an important role in your overall health and make up your unique ecosystem, or microbiome.
Even if you’ve heard the term “microbiome,” you may think it only relates to your gut. Yet, that’s just one of your microbiomes. And when that microbiome gets out of balance, it doesn’t only affect your digestion. It can cause leaky gut, which can wreak havoc on all the organisms in your ecosystem. To keep your microbiome functioning in a “symbiotic” or ideal fashion, you need to maintain a healthy gut. My Leaky Gut Revive® can help restore and maintain a healthy gut lining to ensure the health of your whole body.
In this article, I’ll explain what leaky gut is in more detail. I’ll also go deeper into identifying your various microbiomes. With all that’s going on in the world, this is definitely a time to be thinking about supporting your immune system. To do this, you need to support your whole body, starting with your gut so your many microbiomes can flourish.
Where is Your Microbiome?
Your total microbiome consists of all the microbes — bacteria, fungi, and viruses — that live on and inside your body. It makes up about one to three percent of your body’s mass and weighs as much as five pounds. For our discussion, we’ll group all of these different organisms under the term “bacteria.”
Your microbiome is a living, dynamic environment where the relative abundance of all the different species may fluctuate daily, weekly, and monthly depending on diet, medication, exercise, and a host of other environmental exposures.
A healthy microbiome anywhere in your body consists of a balance of beneficial and harmful bacteria. Each strain of bacteria affects various parts of the body and can influence such diverse factors as weight, cognitive function, immune health, and a host of other functions. Yet, the “bad” bacteria can outnumber the “good” bacteria due to a leaky gut, stress, poor diet, and environmental toxins.
The largest microbiome in your body is in your gut, where 80% of your immune system lives. I like to think of the gut microbiome as a rainforest – we have trillions of microbes living in our digestive tract. This “rainforest “ includes good bacteria, bad bacteria, viruses, and yeast, all in a delicate balance. This balance is key because your gut is where these bacteria help digest and absorb our food, minerals, and nutrients. And last — yet certainly not least important! — your gut microbiome produces 95% of your serotonin — the feel-good hormone.
It also produces some vitamins that your body cannot make, breaks down your food into nutrients your body can absorb, teaches your immune system how to recognize harmful “invaders,” and produces anti-inflammatory compounds that defend against disease-causing microbes.
What is Leaky Gut?
Think of your gut as a drawbridge. Your gut is naturally semi-permeable to let tiny boats (micronutrients) pass through your intestinal wall and into your bloodstream. It’s how you absorb your food. Certain external factors, including certain foods, as well as infections, toxins, and stress, can break apart the tight junctions in your intestinal wall, leaving the drawbridge open. Once this happens, you have a leaky gut.
When you have a leaky gut, much larger boats that were never meant to get through, such as toxins, microbes, and undigested food particles, escape into your bloodstream. Ultimately, this can affect any part of your body and its many different microbiomes. Yet unsurprisingly, the first one to be affected is likely to be your gut microbiome.
Your immune system marks these “foreign invaders” as pathogens and attacks them. I have a comprehensive article on leaky gut and its symptoms on my blog.
What Are the 5 Ways Leaky Gut Impacts Your Microbiome?
When leaky gut persists, it can lead to inflammation in any place in your body. That means leaky gut can not only wreak havoc with your gut microbiome; it can also impact any or all of the different ecosystems of the various parts of your body. Let’s take a closer look.
1. Your Brain Microbiome
Recent studies have shown a link between gut microbes, mental health, and neurological conditions. Scientific evidence is mounting that the gut flora may play a role in autism, epilepsy, and even Parkinson’s disease. Mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are also linked to changes in the gut microbiome.
Scientists once thought the brain itself was a sterile environment protected from bacteria. They didn’t even know there was a brain microbiome! Recent research shows just the opposite. Individuals with and without schizophrenia (which is known to be connected to the gut microbiome) both had bacteria in their brain microbiome. This discovery may open the door to new possibilities of treatment for those with mental health issues.
Because your gut produces 95% of your serotonin along with hundreds of other neurochemicals used by the brain, it’s actually involved in facilitating learning, memory, and mood. If you have a leaky gut, all of these factors can be negatively impacted.
2. Your Gut Microbiome
As I discussed, leaky gut allows bacteria and toxins to spread into your body, causing a host of health problems, yet it can also impact the health of your gut itself. For example, leaky gut can lead to various digestive system issues, including food sensitivities, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.
Leaky gut can also lead to an imbalance or “dysbiosis” in your gut, negatively impacting the good bacteria that are naturally there and affecting your overall health. The major concern with leaky gut and the resultant gut dysbiosis is autoimmunity because most of your immune response originates in your gut.
3. Your Skin Microbiome
Your skin is your largest organ, and your body’s first line of defense. The flora on your skin — primarily a combination of bacteria, yet with fungi and viruses — plays a huge role in this. The most common are Staphylococcus and Propionibacterium.
The flora that makes up your skin microbiome should remain diverse to help your skin repel harmful microorganisms, infections, and other harmful skin conditions. However, disruptions to the skin microbiome, which can come from the gut or outside sources including UV rays and environmental toxins, can cause a range of issues from dandruff, acne, eczema, lack of wound healing, and even autoimmune conditions such as psoriasis.
4. Your Uterine Microbiome
A woman’s womb not only has its own microbiome; it also transmits bacteria to the fetus. When the uterine microbiome is healthy, then an optimal mix of bacteria is transmitted to the fetus.
Maintaining a healthy uterus is critical because certain microbes that can be passed to the fetus are associated with certain disorders.
A healthy uterine microbiome can impact the development of the endometrium and impact conception as well by promoting a fertile uterus.
5. Your Vaginal Microbiome
If you’re a woman, you also have a vaginal microbiome different from the one in your uterus. As a fetus passes through the vagina during birth, bacteria, both good and bad, are picked up from the mother. The most abundant of these is a species of Lactobacillus.
The vaginal microbiome is important for a woman’s health regardless of pregnancy. Your vaginal microbiome plays a protective role in preventing the proliferation of pathogenic organisms, including those responsible for symptomatic bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, sexually transmitted infections (STI), and urinary tract infections. When Candida, a yeast that naturally lives in your digestive tract, overgrows, it can cause leaky gut. One of the most common symptoms is recurring vaginal yeast infections.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is another condition that can result from an imbalance in the vaginal microbiome. It causes vaginal discharge and malodor. While studies shown that women in different regions have a different balance, making some women more susceptible or resistant to this infection, it remains the most common vaginal condition in reproductive-age women.
What You Can Do for Your Microbiome
Now that you’re aware that there’s more to you than meets the eye (in the form of your many different ecosystems), you can appreciate the role of the trillions of microorganisms in and on your body. You can help keep your gut microbiome healthy by eating a nutrient-dense diet of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meats, wild-caught fish, and other gut-supporting foods as well as avoiding gluten and dairy and other inflammatory and toxic foods.
Avoid toxins by purifying or filtering your air and water, using natural cleaning, hygiene, and beauty products. You can also heal infections and relieve stress. Getting exercise and plenty of sleep will support your microbiome and gut health.
Finally, you should heal your leaky gut. If you are experiencing symptoms or have full-blown autoimmunity, healing your gut and restoring your gut microbiome is the key. The Myers Way® is a guide to taking back your health.
Leaky Gut Revive® supports a healthy gut microbiome by preventing and healing leaky gut. It offers an excellent source of L-glutamine to nourish your gut cells, has aloe extract to help restore your gut’s mucosal lining, includes licorice extract to soothe the stomach and intestinal lining, and contains larch arabinogalactan to promote healthy microflora in your gut microbiome and promote gut-mending fatty acid production.
In addition, Leaky Gut Revive® contains slippery elm and marshmallow root to maximize gut repair and mucous membrane health. It also acts as a prebiotic for beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome! Probiotic bacteria ferment the arabinogalactan and produce fatty acids, such as butyrate, in the process. These fatty acids are incredibly beneficial to your gut and intestinal barrier. By supporting your gut, you’re supporting your overall health, your ecosystems from your vaginal microbiome to your brain microbiome, and all the ones in between!