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What the gut?: How does the bacteria living inside of our digestive tract effect our overall health?

Did you know that the bacteria living in your digestive tract influences much more than just your digestion? Although it’s already widely known that the microbiome, or the ecosystem of bacteria living in your gut, plays a part in gastrointestinal issues such as inflammatory bowel disease we now now that the role bacteria plays in our health is much more complex. The National Institute of Health recently invested a large amount of resources into the “Human Microbiome Project” to begin mapping out the different species of bacteria that live inside of us and how they influence our health and susceptibility to disease. There is so much to learn and I’m fascinated to take part in discovering how we as humans live in symbiotic relationships with our bugs! Though the science is still flooding in, I’m already making clinical decisions based upon what information we have thus far. Here’s a taste of what we already know:

- The Microbiome (which is the entire ecosystem of bacteria living in your gut) influences your metabolism and detoxification of many substances including food, hormones, drugs, and toxins. There are identifiable strains of bacteria we can increase/decrease to improve these functions.

- Your microbiome can alter the effectiveness and influence whether or not you experience the side effects of certain drugs, herbs, and other supplements including antibiotics!

- The microbiome effects your “circadian rhythm” which is your 24 hour internal clock. This effects your sleep/wake cycle as well you body’s output of many hormones.

- Patterns in the ratios of bacteria in the digestive tract have been associated with lean body type vs obesity. We are still studying the effects of shifting these ratios on weight loss.

- Certain bacteria in your gut can actually influence your mood as they interact with and even produce their own neurotransmitters!

- The microbiome actually influences the immune system and helps it to mature and function optimally. Changes in the microbiome can increase susceptibility to certain diseases.

- The microbiome fluctuates and is greatly influenced by what you eat. This is where we get to work to build the optimal microbial terrain using food as medicine.

If you’d like links to any of the research supporting this blog post please visit pubmed here: and search any of the above topics + the word “microbiome”


visit the NIH Human Microbiome Project Website for updates on funded research endeavors to come here:

To get to work with me to test YOUR microbiome and find out how you may improve it for improved health you can make an appointment with me here:

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 © Copyright 2017 Tara Nayak N.D.

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