The microbiome! It may be a word that you’re familiar with or it may sound like a foreign species. Well, actually, you wouldn’t be so far off with that because it does, in fact, revolve around a foreign species. Trillions of microorganisms, such as bacteria, yeasts and parasites, take residency in our bodies, making up what is called the human microbiome - and they have a profound effect on our health. They’re involved in countless functions and influence factors such as our longevity, mood, risk for disease and even our weight. They live on us, and in us, yet the largest concentration is located in our intestine which is, by no coincidence, where 70% of our immune system also lies.
Key Number 1: Yeast Is Actually Your Friend (It’s True!)
It’s not a matter of friend or foe, in fact, all microorganisms serve as friends since small amounts of yeasts and parasites help to buffer the immune system. It’s only when the bad guys gain power and ‘rule the roost’ so to speak, that trouble - such as undesirable symptoms - ensues. For instance: the dreaded Candida Albicans yeast (which at times may seem like it is running rampant in all of us upon consulting Dr. Google) is actually intrinsic to the human body. In a healthy body Candida acts as a buffer, blood sugar regulator, and recycling organism. Candida yeast is designed as a ‘back-up’ digestive mechanism to metabolize excess sugars and also to recycle old tissues in the blood.
However, if the candida yeast is completely wiped out - such as by the use of pharmaceutical antibiotics - then this buffering system, too, is wiped out. In turn, toxic materials are left roaming around, creating acidification in the blood, and allowing further systemic infections to potentially take hold.
Thus, in dealing with the overgrowth of Candida yeast, our goal is not to take down this organism with a vengeance; but rather to establish an equilibrium in the gut (intestines). This means nurturing a diverse range and robust population of beneficial bacterium.
How do we do this? By repopulating the gut with supplemental probiotics (like this one).
Key Number Two: Unfriend Sugar
When working with clients, I find that sugar cravings are never an isolated or ‘random’ occurrence. Sugar cravings usually accompany other digestive disturbances and are usually an indication of pathogenic yeast overgrowth in the gastrointestinal tract. A range of microorganisms will always be living in our guts, however, the aim is to have a diverse range of microflora - more commonly known as the beneficial, good bacteria.
The reasoning for this is simple. The fewer microflora species you have, the more likely it is that you can be controlled by a singular species - a species that is going to demand its favorite food source. For instance, the good bacteria species, Bifidobacteria, prefer fiber as their food source. Pathogenic yeast, meanwhile, love to feed on sugar, thus giving rise to some pretty intense late night cravings (midnight chocolate, anyone?)
The solution, therefore, is to reduce the pathogenic yeast by eating less sugar, proliferate the good bacteria, and improve the diversity of the microbiome. This can be done by taking a probiotic with several strains of bacteria.
Key Number Three: Give Your Thyroid Some Love
In functional and integrative medicine, contrary to the western medicine model, the emphasis is always on healing the gut and balancing the colonies of bacteria that reside there. Once the gut microbiome moves into a pathogenic state - meaning that there’s more pathogenic bacteria and yeast than beneficial bacteria - it can produce a whole host of inflammatory issues. These inflammatory issues can then quickly become systemic, meaning they will impact the entire body.
With regards to the thyroid this is bad news. Inflammation is a HUGE contributor to not creating enough T3. T3 is the active version of the thyroid hormone that helps to regulate your body's temperature, metabolism, and heart rate. If you’re eating a standard American diet or if carbohydrates are your closest friends…you are going to be create a lot of inflammation in your body. This, in turn, will massively reduce the production of T3 therefore affecting your overall metabolic function.
As you can see the bacterial balances within the intestines are intricately intertwined. Imbalances are a slippery slope towards the expression of symptoms! If symptoms are left unchecked they can further manifest as diseases and conditions such as Hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
This is why it is so important to make sure our microbiome is healthy, balanced, and thriving. This, in turn, translates to feeling as if we, ourselves, are functioning at our peak.
For those only just beginning to delve into the intricacies of the microbiome, its flora, and how to balance the bacteria inhabiting it, these three keys outline a wonderful starting point. As with anything, however, there is always more than can be done.
After assessing the way in which the foods you eat and the products you take may be affecting your gut I always suggest looking to yoga for continued balance: both on and off the mat. For those interested in exploring further, I have created a yoga training course specifically for those seeking to realign the energetic and biochemical mechanisms that influence thyroid functioning.
Thyroid Yoga® has been endorsed by leading medical doctors and the benefits of this training far surpass being simply “another certification.”
After completion of this virtual training, participants come away equipped with the tools and resources to confidently provide value-added offerings and resources for their clients and students, and have a deep and broad understanding of how the thyroid is supported using integrative and holistic therapies. Additionally, participants will understand how to apply these modalities to understand the energetic body and release deep-seated patterns of fear, self-doubt, and limiting beliefs.
I am delighted and grateful to be empowering women and men on how to align their thyroid health with the overall health they wish to achieve. If this style of healing yoga resonates with you, or simply if you’d like more information on my teachings, (or the microbiome!) I would love the opportunity to connect more personally. My number one desire is to share this knowledge and create a ripple effect of awareness in the world.