Over the last few years, a topic on which I like to nerd out is gut health. Why? Well after chemo, and a few surgeries mine has been really shitty (play on words intended…My gut has been shitty). If there is one thing that has presented itself as a real chink in my armor it’s the ability of my body to maintain balance in the gut. It’s been by far the slowest area of recovery and takes quite a bit of my time and energy in keeping things in check. I slow-cook my food, culture my own probiotics, incorporate massage and meditation., I eat Glorious Green Porridge…I mean, I am covering the bases. Can I get a hell yeah!!!??! This kid is committed!!!
I also do an incredible amount of reading on this topic and have recently completed the course Gut Check: exploring the microbiome @University of Boulder. The human microbiome is the population of more than 100 trillion microorganisms that live in our gut, mouth, skin and elsewhere in our bodies. These microbial communities have numerous beneficial functions relevant to supporting life. In fact our complex immune system developed right along with these microbes to make the powerful dynamic creature that is you and me.
So about a year ago I stumbled onto a crowd funded study called the American Gut Project. It was exciting and fresh and sounded like an advancing field of study that may one day offer many people (me) hope. From the first sentence I read, I was hooked. I want in! But what is it?
Essentially the American Gut Project is a crowd-funded science experiment to map, sequence, and study the 100 trillion cells that make up the microbial community in and on our bodies.
“What does an average gut look like? What does a sick or unhealthy one look like? “This collected data will be used in a meta-analysis including other studies that have been done (Human Mincrobiome Project) to determine what makes up a normal gut microbial community in american. This is the largest study of it’s kind and will show where each of us fall in relation to the general population…..and Michael Pollan. Yes, you can see what your gut bacteria looks like in relation to the author of such famous books as Food Matters and Omnivores Dilemma.
Who doesn’t wanna compare poop? Does that make me weird? It does not! In recent years, it’s become increasingly clear that the microbes in your gut play a much more vital role in your health than previously conceived. This is very important. These microbes are actually beginning to be viewed as a “new organ” in the body having a strong effect of the following areas of research:
- Behavior: “Bacteria colonize the gut in the days following birth, during a sensitive period of brain development, and apparently influence behavior by inducing changes in the expression of certain genes.”
- Gene Expression: Researchers have also discovered that the absence or presence of gut microorganisms during infancy permanently alters gene expression. Through gene profiling, they were able to discern that absence of gut bacteria altered genes and signaling pathways involved in learning, memory, and motor control
- Diabetes: Bacterial populations in the gut of diabetics differ from non-diabetics, according to a study from Denmark. In particular, diabetics had fewer Firmicutes and more plentiful amounts of Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria, compared to non-diabetics. The study also found a positive correlation for the ratios of Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes and reduced glucose tolerance. The researchers concluded that “the results of this study indicate that type 2 diabetes in humans is associated with compositional changes in intestinal microbiota.”
- Autism: Establishment of normal gut flora in the first 20 days or so of life plays a crucial role in appropriate maturation of your baby’s immune system; hence, babies who develop abnormal gut flora are left with compromised immune systems and are particularly at risk for developing such disorders as ADHD, learning disabilities and autism
- Obesity: The make-up of gut bacteria tends to differ in lean vs. obese people. This is one of the strongest areas of probiotic research to date, and you can read about a handful of such studies..
Fun Fact: (for all 10 trillion of your human cells…) You have 100 trillion microbes driving your body in ways you can’t imagine. Think of them like a warrior fleet of tiny Keebler elves running around your intestines making cookies. “That’s stupid….A stomach full of elves?! Come on, Frederick!” This is my blog and my visuals. And I prefer a visual of a tiny Keebler Elf making energy as opposed to a boring piece of bacteria. Trust me. When meditation comes into play, this is way more fun. Take a page form my recent story on visualization healing from “Healing from within”
What do I want to say? It’s a very critical time concerning the role we play in our own health care in America. For the first time in history we have access to the same information, if not more than our doctors. The practicing physician you see did not have access to this information in school.
YOU DO….. TODAY!
It could greatly effect your health and the health of your children. Studies are made public on the internet and patients can easily research surgeries , treatment options and contact other patients to get their experiences and outcomes. It’s an exciting time. I implore you to become a part of the American gut study. It puts you in the drivers seat. It gives you the power. This crowd funded program gives us a deep look at what makes up the working cogs inside of your body……in relation to the food you eat…….but it also puts you in an exciting role as a citizen scientist. You are a scientist!
*Click link for enjoyment*
You will be part of charting one of the great undiscovered countries….the American Gut. Make your numbers count and be a part of the correlation that gives scientists a look at a broad spectrum of the human gut. Once the numbers are in, scientists can begin to make correlations and hopefully help those suffering with diabetes, colon cancer, and many other chronic health conditions. The possibilities are endless. In addition…..if you already fall into a special category like someone who has lived through a chronic disease, health issues or equivalent your sample is extra special and you may be a valuable key to the larger puzzle.
Here is the plan of action: In a lovely info graphic
1.)You simply go to the LINK
2.)Pay 99$ for a test kit or maybe more if you want other members of your family tested…or even you favorite pet! Yes your dogs microbiome matter too! * In case you were wondering this is a bargain basement cost for having the genes in your gut sequenced through a super computer. Privately this would cost you thousands of dollars.
3.) Take your sample and send it away in the mail.
4.)I have done it. I’m currently awaiting my results and trust me…There will be a follow-up blog explaining and breaking down the results.
5.) Meet back here so we can discuss! 1-2-3 go!