The microbiome is a miniature ecosystem in the gastrointestinal tract, one populated by trillions of microscopic, nonhuman organisms.
These tiny dwellers digest our food, control our appetite, and regulate our metabolism. These bacteria also orchestrate our immune system, influence our mood, and help determine the expression of our genes.
This inner ecology plays a key role in our health because it can affect multiple systems simultaneously; it is intertwined and inseparable from us. Improving the health of the microbiome is one of the best—if not the best—way to pave a path for healing many disorders.
Because the influence of this “forgotten organ” is so far-reaching, we start patient evaluations by looking for microbiome imbalances, such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). By restoring a healthy balance to this invisible ecosystem, we transform patients’ lives for the better. Patients experience increased energy, greater clarity, and better spirits—a testament to the power of healing the gut.
Many symptoms of an imbalanced microbiome appear unrelated to the gut:
However, based on research and experience, we recognize such a strong connection between the microbiome and overall health that we always look to the microbiome.
Many different factors can stress the gut and throw the microbiome out of balance. Common causes include the overuse of antibiotics; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen; and proton-pump inhibitors, which reduce gastric acid production. Tension can also damage the microbiome.
Diet plays a critical role in the health of these beneficial bacteria. A number of foods—including those containing sugar, eggs, soy, gluten, and dairy—can promote the growth unhealthy bacteria and contribute to leaky gut, in which undigested food escapes from the damaged intestinal wall and triggers system-wide inflammation. Conversely, not eating enough of the foods required to nourish the microbiome can also lead to gastrointestinal disorders.
We test patients for bacterial overgrowth in the microbiome. Then, we treat the findings accordingly with diet, targeted herbs, and other supplements. In addition, we use autonomic response testing to understand how the body responds to biochemical and energetic signatures, which allows us to detect yeast and parasites that are frequently missed in stool tests.
ART + SCIENCE = DIAGNOSIS
At Kellman Center, our GI doctor in NYC blends art and science by examining all of the body’s systems and how they interact, including the gut, the brain, and inflammatory markers. By looking at their effects on other body systems and on biomarkers, we can see the downstream effects that are often missed by conventional testing.
We look deeper to diagnose each person as an individual, instead of relying on routine tests that identify conditions based on values determined by the population range. We get to know every patient; we recognize that the longer a problem persists, the less likely that a blood test will reveal it.
We take a functional medicine approach to gut healing that starts with the four Rs:
- unhealthy bacteria and foods that unbalance the microbiome
- the digestive enzymes needed for optimal digestion
- with probiotics (intestinal bacteria) and prebiotics (foods and supplements that nourish and sustain this bacteria)
- the lining of the intestinal walls, which have likely become permeable and release partially digested food into the bloodstream
Patients maintain their digestive health by avoiding foods that stress the microbiome and choosing healing foods that feed the healthy bacteria in the microbiome.
The following supplements can also be used to restore and maintain gut health with the microbiome diet: