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Whether you call them gut flora, microbiota, microflora, microbes, gut bacteria, the good guys, the bad guys - we are in essence speaking about the same thing: ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—š๐˜‚๐˜ ๐— ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฏ๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฒ

Santa Barbara Gut Health

The skin, nose, mouth, ear canal, lungs, stomach and urogenital tract all have their own microbiome.

The ๐˜จ๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜ฎ๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฃ๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ has been a hot topic over the past handful of years and it is a relatively new field. The microbiome was not generally recognized to exist until the late 1990s.


๐—ช๐—ต๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ถ๐˜?

The gastrointestinal tract is home to trillions of microbes, collectively called the ๐˜จ๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜ฎ๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฃ๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ.

Some scientists have estimated that there are 10 times more microbial cells in the body than there are human cells, while others say that the ratio may be closer to 1:1.

The human microbiota is made up of trillions of cells, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

  • The biggest populations of microbes reside in the gut. We will be addressing mainly bacteria in this series.

  • The microorganisms living inside the gastrointestinal tract amount to around 4 pounds of biomass.

  • Every individual has a unique mix of species.

๐…๐ฎ๐ง ๐…๐š๐œ๐ญ: ๐Ÿ—๐Ÿ—% ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ก๐ฎ๐ฆ๐š๐ง ๐ ๐ž๐ง๐ž๐ญ๐ข๐œ ๐ฆ๐š๐ญ๐ž๐ซ๐ข๐š๐ฅ ๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ ๐Ÿ๐ซ๐จ๐ฆ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐›๐ฎ๐ ๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ฅ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž ๐ข๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ ๐ฎ๐ญ

They play a key role in digesting food you eat, and they help with absorbing and synthesizing nutrients too. Gut bugs are involved in many other important processes that extend beyond your gut, including your metabolism, body weight, and immune regulation, as well as your brain functions and mood.

There are up to 1,000 species of bacteria in the human gut microbiome, and each of them plays a different role in your body. Most of them are extremely important for your health but other can cause disease or dysbiosis.

An imbalance in the gut, is called dysbiosis. Gut dysbiosis occurs when there is an imbalance in the number and diversity of your gut microflora. This can impact your health in various ways.


๐ƒ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ฅ๐จ๐ฉ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐Œ๐ข๐œ๐ซ๐จ๐›๐ข๐จ๐ญ๐š

In utero, the fetus is thought to be completely devoid of microbes.

  • We begin to be colonized by bacteria during the birth process when they pass through the vagina, or from contact with the momโ€™s skin, if the delivery is by cesarean section.

  • Some research supports microbiota may come from the placenta, umbilical cord blood, ect.

  • First days of life, the type of the microorganisms will be different, depending whether the baby is breastfeeding or drinking formula.

  • After babies begin to eat solid, they get microbes from their diet, as well as crawling on the floor, from putting their hands in their mouths, ect.

  • Diet, age, baby feeding method, birth delivery and antibiotic usage all determines one's gut microbiota.

๐—ช๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฏ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฎ ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—น๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฑ

For gut bacteria, the large intestine and colon harbor the majority of bacteria, whereas the small intestine should have a significantly lower amount.

๐—ง๐˜†๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ฏ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฎ

Microbiota diversity increases with age until it becomes a stable adult microbiota composition dominated by three bacterial phyla: ๐˜๐˜ช๐˜ณ๐˜ฎ๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ถ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ด, ๐˜‰๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ช๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ด, ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ˆ๐˜ค๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฃ๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ข. With Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes representing 90% of gut microbiota.

๐—™๐˜‚๐—ป ๐—™๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐˜: ๐—•๐—ฎ๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€๐—ถ๐˜๐˜† ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ธ๐—ฒ๐˜† ๐˜„๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐—ถ๐˜ ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฎ ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—น๐˜๐—ต๐˜† ๐˜€๐˜†๐—บ๐—ฏ๐—ถ๐—ผ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ฐ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜€๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ฝ ๐˜„๐—ถ๐˜๐—ต ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ฟ ๐—บ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐˜€.


It's unnerving to think about the number of microorganisms we coexist with, especially when we read such data as there is more bacteria in our body than our own human cells.

Our microbiome contains a wide range of microbes, some are beneficial and some can be detrimental.

In a healthy person, these โ€œbugsโ€ coexist peacefully, and is even labeled a supporting organ because it plays so many key roles in promoting the smooth daily operations of the human body. Our Gut Microbiome has far-reaching roles that are tied to so many different bodily functions.

๐—Ÿ๐—ฒ๐˜'๐˜€ ๐—น๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ธ ๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐—ฎ ๐—ณ๐—ฒ๐˜„ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—น๐—ผ๐˜„

  • Helping to produce hormones/neurotransmitters (serotonin, Gaba, dopamine)

  • Aiding in the extraction of energy (calories) and nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids and antioxidants

  • Managing our appetite and body weight

  • Digesting fiber which helps form stool

  • Controlling our moods, motivation and cognitive health

  • Preventing us from catching colds and viruses

  • Helping repair damaged tissues and injuries

  • Research is still discovering more

On the other hand, having an unhealthy microbiome may be a contributing factor for many common diseases. Research has found links between disturbed or pathogenic bacterial populations, and the following conditions: ๐˜จ๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ข๐˜ญ ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ด ๐˜ด๐˜ถ๐˜ค๐˜ฉ ๐˜ข๐˜ด ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ง๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ฎ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜บ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฐ๐˜ธ๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ช๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ฆ (๐˜๐˜‰๐˜‹) ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ช๐˜ณ๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ฃ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฐ๐˜ธ๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ ๐˜ด๐˜บ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ (๐˜๐˜‰๐˜š), ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜จ๐˜ช๐˜ฆ๐˜ด, ๐˜ด๐˜ฌ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ด, ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜บ, ๐˜ต๐˜บ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฆ 2 ๐˜ฅ๐˜ช๐˜ข๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ด, ๐˜ข๐˜ถ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ๐˜ช๐˜ฎ๐˜ฎ๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜บ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ช๐˜ฎ๐˜ฃ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ๐˜ด (๐˜จ๐˜ถ๐˜ต-๐˜ฃ๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜ข๐˜น๐˜ช๐˜ด).

๐——๐—ถ๐—ฑ ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚ ๐—ธ๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜„?

An imbalance in the gut, is called dysbiosis. Gut dysbiosis occurs when there is an imbalance in the number and diversity of your gut microflora. This can impact your health in various ways. When left untreated, dysbiosis can contribute to illnesses of all kinds, including anxiety, depression, lupus, leaky gut and diabetes.

Santa Barbara Nutrition

Nutritional Approaches

Our modern lifestyles, western diets and overuse of antibiotics might all be having a harmful effect on our gut health.

Research shows we can support our gut microbiota through nutrition and other supportive measures.

We now know that having a diverse, abundant and balanced amount of good bacteria in the gut is key for overall health.

Let's looks at some nutritional approaches that can support our gut microbiome.

๐—Ÿ๐—ผ๐˜„๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐˜€๐˜‚๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ฟ ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ธ๐—ฒ

Research shows a high sugar diet alters the composition of gut microbiota, favoring the growth of several pathogenic bacteria that degrade the mucus layer of the intestine.

๐—œ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ฒ ๐—ณ๐—ถ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ

Fiber is the food that healthy gut bacteria like to eat (prebiotic). Dietary fiber can only be broken down and fermented by enzymes from microbiota living in the colon. Examples: asparagus, bananas, chicory, garlic, artichoke, onions.

๐—Ÿ๐—ฎ๐˜†๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐—ณ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐˜€

Fermented foods are a natural source of probiotics (live bacteria). Examples: fermented veggies, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh. Caution: careful adding if you have candida or SIBO.

Nourishing Tip: Stool testing is an excellent tool to create a personalized gut healing program to bring balance to your gut microbiome.


Let's discuss supplementation approaches.


Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers. They act like fertilizers that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Common forms include: Arabinogalactan, Beta-glucans, Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), Inulin. It's important to note that some prebiotics can aggravate certain conditions. Start low and go slow.


Probiotics contain live organisms, usually specific strains of bacteria that directly add to the population of healthy microbes in your gut. They work by colonizing and interacting with the gut microbiome, inhibiting the growth of pathogens, and producing beneficial compounds. Like prebiotics, you can take probiotics through both food and supplements.

Choosing the right probiotic can be overwhelming. Dr. Rusico, an expert in gut health, breaks down the types of probiotics into three categories. According to Ruscico, layering all categories, may be one of the most effective ways to address one's GI health.

๐—–๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ด๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜† ๐Ÿญ: Lactobacillus & bifidobacterium species predominated blends.

  • Heavily researched.

  • Live microorganisms used in foods such as yogurt, kefir.

  • They typically do not colonize the host, but do improve the health of the host.

๐—–๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ด๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜† ๐Ÿฎ: Saccharomyces Boulardii (healthy fungus).

  • Second most researched probiotic.

  • S. boulardii is not a normal part of the human microbiota, - it does not colonize us.

  • They help fight the pathogenic bad bugs.

๐—–๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ด๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜† ๐Ÿฏ: Soil-Based Probiotics (spore forming bacteria)

  • Clinical trials evaluating their effectiveness.

  • This category of probiotic can colonize the host.


There is considerable research showing our lifestyle choices such as our diet play a significant

Santa Barbara Nutrition Counselor

role in the health of our microbiome.

๐‹๐ž๐ญโ€™๐ฌ ๐ซ๐ž๐ฏ๐ข๐ž๐ฐ ๐ฌ๐จ๐ฆ๐ž ๐›๐ž๐ฅ๐จ๐ฐ:

  • Improve sleep: Research shows that sleep and gut bacteria are actually intricately connected and having a more diverse gut microbiome increases sleep outcomes.

  • Lower stress: Studies suggest that psychological stressors can disrupt the microorganisms in the intestines.

  • Build your immune system: Building your immune system so that you can avoid any unnecessary antibiotics is crucial. Research shows they are damaging to the gut microbiota and immunity, even up to 6 months after taking.


Let's shift gears and discuss the ๐Ÿฑ-๐—ฅ ๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐˜๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—น developed by the Institute of Functional Medicine.

The ๐Ÿฑ-๐—ฅ ๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐˜๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐—ผ๐—น is a systematic and comprehensive approach that improves symptoms and repairs the gut. Additionally, I use functional testing to guide the process for a more personalized approach.

Step 1: Remove

Crucial first step is to remove anything that may be irritating or inflaming the gut. This can be the foods, medications, infections in the gut, stress, toxins and more. This is often the longest step.

Step 2: Replace

We layer in support that the body needs, such as enzymes to help digest foods, bitters to help with fat digestion and foods that build your nutrition profile.

Step 3: Repopulate

We support the microbiome and help rebuild the gut bacteria. This can include adding certain foods to the diet and layering supplemental pre/probiotics.

Step 4: Repair

We encourage repair of the intestinal cells and mucosa, reduce inflammation and help our microbiome find a happy home within our digestive tract.

Step 5: Rebalance

Lifestyle choices play a huge role in maintaining a healthy gut. We optimize all aspects of our everyday choices to ensure lasting the best overall and long lasting outcome.

Want to deep dive. Reach out. This is what we do!

Have a Nourishing Day!

Sources: PMID: 30240894, PMID: 25415497,, PMID: 29748817, PMID: 26770121, draxe/health/gut-bacteria, PMID: 29071061, 30002765, 30149548, 25028050


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