Your gut microbiome is more than a collection of bacteria. It’s a complex ecosystem of around 100 trillion microbes that can include bacteria, archaea, viruses like bacteriophages, yeast and fungi, as well as parasites. It helps to think of this ecosystem of microbes more like an organ. In fact, your gut microbiome weighs between four and five pounds, making it heavier than your brain.
Your gut is home to the majority of your immune system, around 70 to 80% of all immune system cells. So it’s not surprising that this ecosystem plays a huge role in the development of autoimmune disease. Read on to learn more about the link between an imbalanced gut and autoimmune issues, and the best ways to heal your gut microbiome.
Leaky gut and autoimmune disease
Think of the gut microbial ecosystem as a rainforest, in that it thrives when there is high biodiversity. Unfortunately, antibiotics, toxins, a diet high in processed foods, and the overall Western way of life have contributed to a significant loss in diversity, stability, adaptability, and resilience of the gut microbiome. That’s a problem, and here’s why: A gut microbiome imbalance (dysbiosis) contributes to leaky gut syndrome and immune system dysregulation – which can lead to autoimmune disease.
The leaky gut and autoimmune connection is more than an association – these two conditions lie on a spectrum. As the leakiness of your gut worsens, you’re more and more likely to develop an autoimmune disease. On the opposite end, when you take steps to repair your gut lining, you move towards reversing autoimmunity.
How to tell if you have a leaky gut
If you have an autoimmune condition, it is likely that you have a leaky gut. Here are the 9 signs you have a leaky gut:
- Chronic or recurring digestive issues: These can range from mild gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation to debilitating irritable bowel syndrome and more.
- Food sensitivities or allergies: When a patient comes into my office with a food sensitivity, this tells me they likely have a leaky gut. The more sensitivities they have, the leakier their gut is likely to be.
- Brain fog: Difficulty thinking, concentrating or even ADD (attention-deficit disorder).
- Mood-related issues: Leaky gut often contributes to anxiety and depression.
- Skin conditions: Rosacea, eczema, dandruff, acne, and psoriasis are all associated with leaky gut.
- Seasonal allergies: Allergies and asthma are other common signs of leaky gut.
- Hormonal imbalances: Irregular periods and hormone-related conditions are exacerbated by leaky gut.
- Autoimmune disease: Leaky gut leads to autoimmunity. So if you’ve received an official diagnosis, it’s time to work on healing your gut.
- Chronic fatigue: Gut issues can contribute to extreme fatigue and related diagnoses like fibromyalgia.
If you experience one or more of the symptoms above, you’ll want to take steps towards healing your gut.
As mentioned, leaky gut and autoimmune disease lie on a spectrum. As your gut health degrades and you develop symptoms, it becomes more and more likely your immune system will be sent into hyperdrive – eventually resulting in an autoimmune disease.
Optimizing gut intelligence could help you heal faster
To repair your gut you want to:
- Remove damaging elements.
- Restore essential ingredients that might be missing.
- Reinoculate beneficial bacteria and other microbes.
- Repair by providing nutrients that help to repair the lining of the gut.
Your gut microbiome is completely unique. What if you had a way to see into your gut and identify even more closely the specifics of your gut microbiome composition and activity, so you could further individualize food and nutrient recommendations?
That’s where a gut test comes in.
Viome’s testing uses metatranscriptomic sequencing of the gut microbiome. That simply means it can identify all your active microbes down to the strain level, and understand exactly what each of your microbes is doing, eating, producing, and how they are interacting with each other. Through an expert trained AI analysis engine, Viome is able to give personalized dietary and nutrient recommendations that will help to balance your unique microbiome.
Find the perfect diet to heal your gut
Reversing your autoimmune condition starts with your diet, and eating the foods that are right for you. You begin that process by eliminating inflammatory foods — the foods that cause your immune system to go into overdrive.
Gluten and dairy are major culprits behind leaky gut and autoimmunity, but there may be other problematic foods that are exacerbating the issue, including so-called “health” foods.
For example, a food component called oxalates are common in foods like spinach, chard, kale, nuts, seeds, and cocoa. Viome has identified that about 40% of their customers’ microbiomes are not able to metabolize oxalates in a way that neutralizes their damaging effects. Ingesting oxalate-rich foods without having the bacteria that can properly metabolize them can cause big problems, especially if you already have a leaky gut.
But how do you know if you belong to the 40% of people who should eat fewer oxalate-containing foods? Viome’s testing can provide you with that information.
When you minimize problematic foods, you significantly reduce the wear and tear on your gut. It’s like pulling back the troops and giving your gastrointestinal lining a chance to recover and regroup – and it’s an essential step in reversing autoimmune disease.
Viome recommends food for better inoculation
This is one of the most fascinating aspects of Viome testing. With today’s probiotics we only have access to maybe 30 or so different strains of bacteria – but your gut contains hundreds of different strains of bacteria, not to mention all the viruses, fungi, and more, meaning available probiotics are barely making a dent in the biodiversity that should be there.
High levels of biodiversity make a stronger gut microbiome, which in turn supports a stronger immune system – but we are limited by what’s available on the market.
Viome testing, analysis, and recommendations specifically tell you what to eat in order to manipulate the microbe activity in your gut. This tips the scales in your favor. Not only do you get targeted nutrition advice that tells you exactly what to eat to optimize your gut – you also learn what is going to feed beneficial microbes, while reducing harmful ones.
Your microbes are like picky children — they only like certain foods. When you get your Viome results back, the recommendations tell you which foods you should eat to support the best microbes for your health and wellness.
Improving gut health from multiple angles
Viome is a new technology that was originally created for biodefense purposes. When you’re working on reversing autoimmune disease, add Viome to your biohacking arsenal. Knowing what’s going on in your gut is the first step to healing it.