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Should You Get A Microbiome Test?

Did you know that the bacteria living in and on you outnumber your cells TEN to one? Which basically means that 90% of the cells in your body actually belong to other species and that the prominence and HEALTH of these bacteria are essential for the health of your entire mind+body, and, therefore, spirit. From the time we are born, our microbiomes train our immune system to recognize the good bacteria from the bad, slowly building up a fierce army that will protect us day in and day out. These trusty little microbes patrol our bodies, looking out for pathogens, guarding their territories and helping our inner ecosystems thrive so that the rest of our body can thrive, without toxic foreigners. These microscopic little beings are responsible for the health of our immune system, our metabolism, and the manufacture of neurotransmitters that play a role in emotions, stress, anxiety, learning, and memory. This means that the state of your microbiome directly affects everything from temperament to weight, with a lot in between. This should give you a bit of insight as to why the microbiome is taking the health world by storm: your ability to maintain your weight, remain disease-free, and feel full of love, light, and joy comes down to how your microbiome is reacting to your practices. As recently as 5 years ago, not much was known about the microbiome or its impact elements of our health. However, an explosion of research has proved how integral it is in controlling everything from our moods to our digestive troubles. Just last week The New York Times published an article titled “Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood?” that tracks the area of study from one doctor’s ridiculed obsession to one of the most discussed areas of science today. To get the lowdown on what us Sakaralites can do to make sure our microbiome is in tip top shape, primed for positive thoughts and smooth digestion, we spoke with our soul sister Dr. Robin Berzin. “All of health starts in the gut. If your digestion is not healthy then you are not healthy,” says Dr. Berzin. “Conventional medicine looks at the brain, the heart or the skin as separate systems, but often problems in these areas start in the digestive tract. It’s very core to my philosophy that the digestive tract is core to your health.” These micro-organisms emit chemicals that, in addition to aiding digestion, help regulate mood like dopamine and serotonin. An imbalance in the kinds or amount of bacteria can throw off entire systems. The balance of your gut flora is likely operated at less than ideal levels if you eat refined sugar or gluten on a regular basis, take antibiotics, live in a polluted area or susceptible to stress. Yes, the type and amount of bacteria in your gut could be part of your recent outbursts, insurmountable sadness, bloated stomach, and susceptibility to every sickness.  By this point you might be thinking, “Ah-ha! Perhaps cleaning up my gut will help me!” followed by, “Exactly how long will this take?” According to Dr. Berzin, It can take a good amount of time to heal depending on many factors from how many antibiotics you took as a child to whether you’ve taken birth control or had surgery. Even the people and places we spend time around often can impact the health of our microbiome. How exactly can you find out just how damaged (or healthy!) your gut might be? There are a number of tests coming on the market, however, we recommend always working with a doctor who really understands the test results. A test will provide a lot of information, but your personal wellness story, the color of your tongue, and even your disposition can also provide vital information to a doctor who can help you develop a game plan for clearing out the bad bacteria and making room for the good. For someone who is looking to start taking steps towards a healthier gut RIGHT NOW, there are a lot of beneficial practices you can incorporate to start to get that beautiful inner ecosystem of yours THRIVING - everything from avoiding antibiotics to grounding. But the most powerful practice is sticking to a whole food, plant-based diet that is going to feed those hard-working, loving bacteria in your gut. “The right kind of fiber can really shift the microbiome while high sugar foods can impact it,” says Dr. Berzin. Aim for a  diverse range of plants to ensure that you are getting the fermentable substrates that will carry the work of your gut microbiome into your bowels, and therefore spread and strengthen your little army! *Image via here

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