Bloating Relief and the Microbiome

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There is so much talk about the microbiome and how important it is, but what exactly is it? It’s a collection of microbes that reside within each and every one of us. A complex ecosystem of circa 39 trillion bacteria, fungi and viruses, all working together to defend our health and influence our behaviour. Bacteria signal all over the body, communicating with cells and organs throughout the body. I read in Dr William Lees book Eat to Beat Disease, how we are not simply just human beings, we are holobionts. The term means an organism that has multiple species that are mutually beneficial and function as one.

Although we are still in the early stages of research when it comes to the microbiome, what we do know is that a healthy and robust microbiome will help keep us healthy. When the delicate balance of the gut microbiome is disrupted through poor diet, stress and pharmaceutical drugs the changes can lead to ill health and disease. I found it fascinating to read the research on how quickly a healthy microbiome can become unhealthy. How once it became unhealthy it took so much longer to get it back to where it had previously been. Just one day of unhealthy eating impacts the microbiome with detrimental effects. It then takes 15 weeks on a healthy diet to get it back to its previous healthy state. Makes you think, doesn’t it. How many people do you know who follow a healthy diet Monday to Thursday and then have a blow out over the weekend, “well I’ve been good all week, I deserve it.” Maybe reading this would change that theory and may help in bloating relief.

Within the microbiome we have 8 different phylums of bacteria.

Keeping a balance within these phylums is key. When one or more become dominant we can experience gut issues.

Bacteroidetes Phylum

These guys are seen mostly in animal-based diets, many of them are SCFA-producing bacteria, that’s short chain fatty acid producing and therefore important for feeding the coloncytes, cells within the colon. So they can help to keep the gut healthy.

Firmicutes Phylum

These are the most diverse and largest group of bacteria in the microbiome. As well as housing beneficial bacterial strains that help promote the beneficial butyrate SCFAs and Faecalibacterium species. The latter is an anti-inflammatory species of bacteria. There are also strains within this family that are known pathogens. This particular phylum is most responsive to plant-based diets and may help with bloating relief.

Actinobacteria Phylum

Bacteria within this phylum are generally considered beneficial, and increase on a plant based diet. Bifidobacterium for example is the main bacterial strain within the colon and often found in probiotics due to its positive effect on the digestive system. Collinsella bacteria found within this phylum may however be pro-inflammatory, and is elevated in western-diets.

Proteobacteria Phylum

In excess, bacteria in this phylum are considered harmful, often associated with metabolic disorders and inflammatory bowel disease. E. coli for example is pro-inflammatory and consumes simple sugars. This harmful bacteria is lower in individuals on plant-based diets.

Fusobacteria Phylum

Certain fusobacterium species. May be pro-inflammatory and increase in number on low fiber, high fat diets.

Verrucomicrobia Phylum

Contains the beneficial and protective Akkermansia species which is involved in gut membrane integrity and reducing gut inflammation. May be increased with polyphenols and prebiotics. Fucoidan, a brown seaweed polysaccharide and chokeberries, like aronia berry have been shown to increase Akkermancia species.

Euryarchaeota Phylum

Methanobrevibacter smithii is associated with methane production and diets high in carbohydrates. In excess this can cause bloating and constipation.

Different types of bacteria

More and more research is coming to light about the different types of bacteria and their influence on health. Some strains of Bifidobacteria, for example, help reduce stress and anxiety. While other strains of Lactobaccillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bacillus myocides are involved in endocrine or hormonal functions, as well as helping release neurotransmitters including serotonin, our happy hormone which mostly resides in the gut. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG for example helps prevent the growth of bad bacteria in the stomach and intestines. Its properties have been explored in approximately 800 studies and 200 clinical trials. It is protective of the gut epithelium, and known for its ability to support the immune system as well as having a positive effect on digestion.

If you want to learn more about bloating relief and healthy digestion, you can consult the Inner Health Clinic – Transform Your Gut located in Stockport, Manchester. You can call 07712 620909 or email for an appointment.