The human gut is home to an enormous and complex community of microbes – bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses – known as microbiota. This microbiota has co-evolved with its host over many years. In fact our first colonization of microflora happens at birth and is known as the microbial fingerprint!
The gut microbiota provides benefits to us in many ways, including, but not limited to, digestion, production of nutrients, detoxification, protection against pathogens (bad microbiota) and regulation of the immune system.
The gut plays a central role in immune system balance. One of the most notable features of the gastrointestinal system is the huge amount of immune cells that reside within it – 70% of the entire immune system resides in the gut! These cells are known as the gut‐associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) and mucosal‐associated lymphoid tissue (MALT).
Everyday the immune system in our gut is overloaded with stimuli from food, microflora and toxic substances such as pesticides, heavy metals, bisphenols, phthalates, artificial food colours and more. Accumulation of this immune system overload can present as larger issues in the body such as asthma, allergies, eczema and dermatitis, and autoimmune conditions. No doubt if the immune system is imbalanced, one needs to look more closely at the function of the gut and the microflora that resides there.
There are a handful of comprehensive digestive tests out there. These look at functional markers of gastrointestinal health and our gastrointestinal microbiome. It is absolutely fascinating information that can guide treatment recommendations to optimize gastrointestinal health for well-being of the whole body.
Interested in learning more? Talk to your naturopathic doctor!