Stomach & Gut Microbiome
A Basic Overview for the OFM Athlete
The Human Biome is composed of trillions of various organisms which are not human cells….they are mostly bacteria but can be fungi, archaea and even viruses. These organisms co-exist and interact with themselves and human cells and make up part of who you are.
The human microbiome is currently a hot area of research, however, due to the sheer vastness and complexity / complex interactions of a biological system like the human body this area of formal research is in it’s infancy.
Thus far much of the research is suggesting what traditional cultures have known empirically for years and modern science and technology has ignored. As an example,while the advent of Germ Theory and Antibiotics, have, no doubt, saved countless lives what is currently being revealed in the research is that being “germ-o-phobic”, overuse of antibiotics and other anti-bacterials has countless “unintended consequences” in terms of their impact on upsetting the natural balance of our biome.
So, again, it really is a “balance”. We have bacteria and fungi that are labelled as “bad” in us all the time like h.pylori, e. coli, staph, candida etc. and research is suggesting many of these “bad” players actually play a role when held in check in relatively low levels…it is when the balance is upset and the levels of these bacteria get out of control that problems arise.
A healthy biome is relatively robust, however, years of insults eventually erode it and compromise health. This is commonly seen in endurance athletes after years of training and competing using a high carbohydrate, low fat dietary strategy as the various gastrointestinal issues seen, often accepted as normal, in endurance athletes.
A robust Biome is particularly crucial for OFM because bacteria produce many key fatty acids essential to good health from dietary carbohydrates. A robust biome actually is a substantial aid in carbohydrate tolerance because the bacteria can convert starches and sugars into fatty acids rather than blood sugar and, in an OFM athlete, these fatty acids are metabolized for energy as well as nutrition.
Similarly, a healthy biome is necessary for proper absorption of fats, cholesterols, and lipoproteins from the diet both for human health and biome health. We surmise a compromised biome and epithelium as a key factor in some athletes who have difficulty transitioning to a diet significantly higher in fat (bile function is often another contributing factor).
A healthy biome maintains a healthy hormonal balance as it is now understood many hormones actually transit the gut and interact with the biome. Emerging research actually demonstrates the gastrointestinal biome produces hormones and is an endocrine organ itself! These revelations correlate to real world observations in OFM athletes including contributing to leaner body mass, greater immunity, improved blood sugar control when carbohydrates are utilized.
For general ways to foster a healthy Biome see “Healthy Biome Basics” and “Biome Health How To” . If you have a serious gastrointestinal condition like Crohn’s, Celiac’s IBS, Leaky Gut Syndrome etc. we suggest a health professional who has an expertise in finding long-term solutions and not simply treating the symptoms with drugs as is commonly done.