Ever wondered what's really going on inside? We know what goes in but does this tell you the full story?
Recently I got one of those microbiome tests done, as I have a baby with ongoing reflux issues and as I am breastfeeding him, I thought what was going on with my gut could hold the key to what is going on with his. Turns out it was a little more complicated than simply cutting out a food group like dairy or gluten as so many suggest.
My gut is suffering from Dysbiosis, which is when there is an imbalance of good and bad bacteria. Our bodies are full of colonies of harmless bacteria known as microbiota. Most of these bacteria have a positive effect on your health and contribute to your body’s natural processes. But when one of these bacterial colonies is out of balance, it can lead to dysbiosis (healthline.com).
What was also interesting, is that this test highlighted that I was pre-diabetic from having too much Cortisol in my system that due to the lack of sleep, my body is struggling to keep on top of, resulting in too much glucose in my system by tapping into protein stores via gluconeogenesis in the liver. This energy can help an individual fight or flee a stressor if need be, but our lives are creating too many of these "situations". Elevated Cortisol over the long term consistently produces glucose, leading to increased blood sugar levels. Over time, the pancreas struggles to keep up with the high demand for insulin, glucose levels in the blood remain high, the cells cannot get the sugar they need, and the cycle continues - potentially leading to chronic disease.
The gut is home to over 100 trillion bacteria known as gut flora. And there are multiple things that can affect our gut health:
Drinking too much alcohol
Lack of sleep
Various foods such as dairy, sugar, bread, processed meats
And if you can’t take a test you may notice suffering from one of the following symptoms of Dysbiosis:
- bad breath
- upset stomach
- having trouble thinking or concentrating
As I have a baby, sleep was a big issue but the brain fog was getting pretty bad too. So what’s the solution if you can tick a few of the above off?
Rest - For those of us with young children or a demanding day job, I know how this advice sounds - unrealistic and rather unhelpful! But take it from me, simply lying down, taking a power nap of around 20 minutes or even biting the bullet to swap out the evening Netflix session for an early night or at least going to bed with a fiction book - it all add ups eventually and these suggestions were not easy sells to an Alpha type like me!
Destress - Begin to incorporate small incremental changes in your daily life that can help slow things down internally. A mindfulness practice on your daily walk, or some diaphragmatic breathing while you do a household chore, and putting your legs up the wall as you unwind at night, all contribute to a more restorative mode of living. I recently read an excellent book on stress and will be reflecting on this in an upcoming blog, in the meantime though, get yourself a copy of “When the Body says No” by Dr. Gabor Maté which highlights how serious stress can be in our lives.
And finally, get more prebiotics and probiotics in your life! This means a varied diet in legumes, onions, asparagus, fermented foods, kombucha, apple cider vinegar, dark leafy greens and bone broths. We have all heard the saying you are what you eat, and consuming more of these inputs are a great step forward.