What is a microbiome and what does it have to do with me?

A microbiome is a community of microscopic organisms that live in and on you. These tiny creatures are trillions of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and viruses. The microbiome we talk about most is the one in your gut, another name for your intestines. There is also a microbiome on your skin, and in other smaller “communities” around your body. The balance of the bacteria in each of these locations can help protect you.

The most important microbiome is your gut microbiome because it plays a huge roll in your overall health. Around two-thirds of your immune systems is in your gut to help block bad germs that stow away on your lunch from breaking into your body and causing harm. Most of the bacteria in your gut belong to one of two families: Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. Having more Bacteroidetes type bacteria in your gut than Firmicutes type bacteria is associated with stronger immunity, higher energy, and lower weight. The foods you eat, medicines and supplements you take, and your lifestyle habits like how much you exercise and how much alcohol and soda you drink can all help or hurt your microbiome. A strong microbiome can help prevent yeast overgrowth, infection, and feeling sick to your stomach with symptoms like gas, bloating, belching, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and acid reflux.

When you don’t take care of your microbiome you increase inflammation which can snowball into chronic gut issues, infections and chronic disease. If you are good to your microbiome, by eating the right foods, avoiding inflammatory substances, and living a clean lifestyle, your microbiome will be good to you. A healthy microbiome will reward you with energy, a happy mood, fewer cravings, better weight control, and better overall health. Call us today to make an appointment and learn more about how healthy your microbiome is and how you can make it as healthy and happy as it can be.

References

[1] Firmicutes vs Bacteroides. (2018, August 31). Retrieved July 29, 2020, from https://atpscience.com/firmicutes-vs-bacteroides/?campaignid=1701177058

[2] Information and educational seminars and conferences on functional medicine. (2019). Retrieved July 29, 2020, from https://www.ifm.org/

maurodigimatesWhat is a microbiome and what does it have to do with me?

Functional, integrative and lifestyle medicine?

If you’re confused, you’re not alone! These concepts are all relatively new and overlap a lot, so sometimes the lines blur, but here are the differences:

Let’s start with integrative medicine because it’s more of an umbrella term. In short, it’s a complementary treatment that works alongside conventional treatment. An older name for integrative medicine is Complementary and Alternative Medicine or CAM for short. Integrative medicine is based on high-quality evidence of its safety and effectiveness. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of the world’s preeminent medical research organizations, in 1992 formed what’s now known as the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). This was in response to the increased interest in complementary and alternative treatments, and therefore the need for scientific evidence supporting these therapies. Integrative medicine therapies consider the whole person, not only medical symptoms but also all aspects of the person’s lifestyle. Integrative therapies might include acupuncture, Reiki, massage, counseling, diet change, or exercise, to name a few.

Functional Medicine is a form of integrative medicine that provides a method of evaluating the root cause of dysfunction as well as a system for creating health. It takes into account contributors to health that go all the way back to the stage that was set by your parents while you were in the womb, also your family history, and your genetics. Major stressful life events like car accidents, divorce, loss of a loved one, or a stressful job can impact health and are also evaluated. Sleep, the foods you eat and how well you tolerate those foods, toxins you’re exposed to, stress management, and your level of activity all play a role. Lab work that is considered in a Functional Medicine assessment includes traditional basic labs as well as cutting-edge labs that consider your genes, toxic exposures, immune responses, and more. Scientific evidence of its efficacy focuses on health outcomes because Functional Medicine therapies are highly individualized, so traditional trials of one treatment versus a control are not practical. For example, one landmark study at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine demonstrated significant improvements in health-related quality of life measures among Functional Medicine patients as compared with matched patients in a primary care setting at the Cleveland Clinic Family Health Center.

Lifestyle medicine focuses on using lifestyle interventions to lower the risk for chronic medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and high blood pressure. This includes lifestyle interventions such as nutrition counseling, physical activity, stress reduction, and rest. Do you see a pattern yet? The truth is there is a lot of overlap and the factors that distinguish these different areas of medicine are hardly distinguishable. The common thread among them all is accounting for a patient’s whole being in consideration of their health—mind, body, and spirit.

References

[1] Beidelschies M, Alejandro-Rodriguez M, Ji X, Lapin B, Hanaway P, Rothberg MB. Association of the Functional Medicine Model of Care With Patient-Reported Health-Related Quality-of-Life Outcomes. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(10):e1914017. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.14017.

[2] Information and educational seminars and conferences on functional medicine. (2019). Retrieved July 29, 2020, from https://www.ifm.org/

[3] “NCCIH.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nccih.nih.gov/.

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5 ways to head back-to-school safely

Are you concerned about sending your kids back to school with COVID-19 still looming? Consider these 5 things you and your family can do to stay protected as we all try to return to a new normal.

  • Vitamin D. Vitamin D has been well-proven to improve immune function, especially over the past 5 years. It protects you from getting colds and respiratory viruses like COVID-19, but works much better if you’ve been taking it long before the virus strikes, than if you wait to start taking it when you are sick. What does this mean for you? Don’t skip the Vitamin D! The best way to boost Vitamin D is through supplementation. (Check packaging for age-appropriate dosing.) Also, make sure your kids get some direct sunlight on their skin most every day to activate the vitamin D from their food. Our bodies can extract Vitamin D from our food but then need UV light to make it usable. This is why we need to get some sun every day!
  • Vitamin C. A 2007 Cochrane review showed that taking 1g of vitamin C daily before a cold, decreased cold symptoms in children. This is another vitamin that you should have your child take daily right away. Don’t worry about them getting too much vitamin C. Unlike vitamin D, whatever they don’t use will be flushed out in their urine.
  • Zinc. A 2011 Cochrane review showed that Zinc taken daily for at least 5 months decreases colds, missed school, and the need for antibiotics in children. (Check the packaging for age-appropriate dosing.) Half the dose if it makes them nauseous.
  • N acetyl Cysteine (NAC). According to the American Academic of Family Physicians (AAFP), NAC can decrease cough in children older than 2 years and is commonly used in Europe for that purpose. Doses vary but start with a low dose and increase slowly. Decrease the dose if it causes nausea.
  • Probiotics. The AAFP also reports that probiotics Lactobacillus acidophilus alone or combined with Bifidobacterium, when taken throughout the winter, can help prevent getting colds in children. It decreases the chances of having fever, cough, runny nose, missed school, and the need for antibiotics. Find a probiotic with at least 10 billion CFUs of these bacteria and put them on your back-to-school shopping list!

As with any respiratory infection, adequate sleep and hydration are essential tools in staying healthy. Insist that your child get these building blocks of health all the time to prevent and recover from illness. In addition to these 5 steps to stay healthy, wearing a mask and social distancing should still be done as officials in your local area recommend.

We at Kale Functional Medicine wish you a successful and safe new school year!

References

[1] Fashner J, Ericson K, Werner S. Treatment of the common cold in children and adults. Am Fam Physician. 2012;86(2):153-159.

[2] Seheult, R. (2020, July 16). Vitamin D COVID-19 Immunity, The endothelium, and Deficiencies. Retrieved August 12, 2020, from https://www.medcram.com

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