Your Gut - Part 2

What is the microbiome and why is it so important? Let's explore.

Miriam D. Hughes, MSN, WHNP-BC, CNM

11/2/20232 min read

a picture of a human body with a diagram of the human body
a picture of a human body with a diagram of the human body

Today we’ll go just a little further into what can affect gut health. So let me introduce you to your gut microbiome. This is the internal world of microorganisms that live within you. Now, don’t let that freak you out! Without these things we would literally die. Out of the TRILLIONS that live within the world, and within us, there are only somewhere near one-thousand that are actually pathogenic or what we refer to as “bad”. That means that nature is totally stacked on our side. However, if our internal microbiome is not optimally balanced then very important process and chemicals are negatively affected.

Why is this so important to know? Long-term dietary intake, what we eat and what we drink, influences the structure and activity of the trillions of microorganisms: bacteria, yeast, fungi, and others residing in the gut. What we take into our body can be helpful, or it can be harmful. It can give our body GOOD information, OR it can give our body BAD information. What we take in can strengthen the whole microbiome or it can weaken it.

This leads us to our immune system. Who isn’t thinking about their immune system these days? A huge contributor to our immune system is the microbiome of the gut! Without a healthy internal microbiome you will have a less robust, if not actually weak, immune system.

Believe it or not, the type of bacteria you have in your gut can even influence things like your cravings! Seriously! When you feel that irresistible craving for something and you know you aren’t really hungry, but it sits and nags at you, it can actually be a signal from the “bad” organisms your gut. The bad things want to survive just as much as the good and they usually want more a sugary, carbohydrate type meal. So, they send off signals to your brain to be fed! Then you grab that candy bar, or bag of chips, or the little snack cakes and you feed the craving. Unfortunately, this means you have just fed the bad organisms and they continue to thrive while the more beneficial organisms are overshadowed and not as abundant. Ultimately, you didn’t really nourish your body, just the bad guys. So, a couple of hours later there is usually another craving and it’s all a vicious cycle.

So much of the time this overgrowth of “bad” microorganisms can cause your body to be in a state of inflammation. The body isn’t really acting against itself, it’s actually doing what it is supposed to do. It’s trying to protect you by calling in all the troops to try to fend off what it sees as a threat. Unfortunately, an inflammatory response is supposed to be a temporary short-lived, protective process. When the signal never gets to shut off, because of the messaging inside, well then inflammation becomes damaging. It affects the health of the gut (often called leaky gut), it affects our skin and hair, it affects hormones, it affects the reproductive system, it affects the brain and mood, it affects our heart and vessels, it affects our immune system, our thyroid, our adrenals, our sleep – it literally affects everything.

What are you supposed to do?!?! We are going to address this further in Part 3 of this little series on gut health. Don’t forget to visit my website,, and find some resources under the gut health page. Remember to share this page with others who could benefit. Always remember – you’re not broken.