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"Microbiome" refers to the trillions of microbes living along our gastrointestinal tract and on our skin. Although these organisms are tiny, they are plentiful and powerful enough to collectively act as another organ in the human body. These microbes have coevolved with humans to be able to exert influence on our behavior, as their host, to ensure that their needs are continually met. Gut microbes can stimulate cravings, change appetite, and even alter taste perceptions in their host through their direct actions, metabolic byproducts, and messages sent to the brain. Different types of microbes (fungi, yeast, bacteria) and different species all have their own specific preferences for living environment and energy sources, and they are all in competition to make a home and thrive. One of the best ways to ease cravings and regulate appetite is to maintain microbiome diversity, favoring more beneficial organisms. This is also crucial to gastrointestinal health and integrity, immune function, and mental health. The key to creating and shaping this diversity is by eating a variety of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, adding probiotics through fermented foods, and consuming processed sugar and carbohydrates sparingly. Many athletes have reduced microbiome diversity due to the stresses put on the body during training, and repetitive intake of sugary sports drinks and gels. I love to work with athletes to make shifts toward using more real food to increase microbiome diversity and keep their guts feeling happier through training and racing. Fun Facts:

  • The genetic material of a single person's microbiome outnumber our own genes by 100 to 1

  • Adding specific strains of probiotics can be helpful to alleviate specific symptoms, like Lactobacillus plantarum 299v to improve iron absorptions

  • Lactobacilli prefer acidic environments and decrease our sensitivity to sour tastes so that we can handle eating more sour foods

  • Studies find that the amount of energy extracted from the diet is influenced by the presence of certain strains in the microbiome

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