Your Microbiome

Your microbiome is made of the microbes that live in you and on you.

What are microbes?

“Microbes” is a broad term referring to microscopic organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and – in some people – parasites. These bugs contribute to the overall microbial community of a person.

Where do these microbes live?

Over 80% of our microbiome is housed in our colon. Our skin, mouth and genitalia are among the bodily parts with their own signature microbiome.

A healthy microbiome is comprised largely of bacteria. Some bacteria are considered beneficial or “good” and others are considered harmful.

What does your microbiome do for you?

Your microbiome is involved in *much* more than healthy digestion. Your microbiome plays an important role in your:

  1.   Weight 
  2.   Immune health
  3.   Detoxification 
  4.   Focus + mental health
  5.   Digestion
  6.   Heart health
  7.   Much more!

***Learners – at the bottom you’ll find greater detail on how your microbiome impacts these areas of your health.

What are symptoms of a disrupted microbiome? 

When we’re talking about the microbiome housed in your gut, there are two fancy terms for a disrupted microbiome:

  • Dysbiosis: 

This happens when the microbiome that “lives” in your colon is disrupted or imbalanced. It is a broad term, and the term itself doesn’t tell us exactly what the problem is. It may mean you have a parasite or it may mean you don’t have much of a specific good bacteria.

Symptoms of dysbiosis can show up in a wide variety of ways such as digestive distress (diarrhea or constipation), weight gain or difficulty losing weight, mental health and mood challenges, acne, hormonal imbalances, type 2 diabetes, recurrent infections, nutrient deficiencies, autoimmune conditions and more.

  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (aka SIBO): 

This happens when your microbiome which *should* live largely in your colon, migrates upstream and makes a home in your small intestine. 

Common symptoms of SIBO include bloating, constipation or diarrhea.

How do you know if your microbiome is disrupted?

  • Dysbiosis is best diagnosed via a comprehensive microbiome assessment (aka a 3-day poop test.) 

Many microbiome assessments are only a one-day test. A 3-day test is essential, because this is the gold standard for ruling out parasites. 

  • SIBO is best diagnosed via a SIBO breath test.

This measures the amount of methane and hydrogen you produce after drinking a glucose solution, helping us determine if unwanted microbes are present in your small intestine.

How do I nurture a healthy microbiome?

1) Feed your microbiome what it loves

  • Your microbiome thrives on fiber. Fiber is what is known as a “prebiotic”. Prebiotics are fuel for good bacteria and promote the growth of good microbes.

Examples of fiber-full foods that fuel your good bugs include:

  • artichokes, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, apples, oats, chia seeds, flaxseeds, lentils and chickpeas
  • Adding beneficial bacteria to your microbiome via foods rich in probiotics. 

Examples of foods rich in probiotics include:

  • fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, miso, pickled vegetables, tempeh; yogurt with live cultures

NOTE: If you have SIBO, food rich in probiotics – as well as probiotic supplements – will likely worsen symptoms of bloating, constipation or diarrhea.

2) Don’t feed “bad” bugs

Bad microbes thrive off sugar, simple carbohydrates (white rice, bread, pasta, etc), fried foods, artificial sweeteners* including aspartame and sucralose (aka “Splenda”).

3) Don’t kill good bugs

  • Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum. Alcohol in excess kills your good bacteria and paves the way for unwanted microbes to make their home in you. It also causes a “leaky gut”, making it easier for toxins and bad bugs to gain entry to your body.  
  • Do your best to keep antibiotic use to a minimum as they kill both good and bad bacteria. Of course, sometimes avoiding antibiotics is not possible.

If you have a need for antibiotics, consult a qualified Functional Medicine practitioner for guidance on supporting your microbiome during antibiotic use and minimizing the long term impact on your good gut microbes. 

Learners read on for greater detail on how your microbiome impacts your health…!


  • Your microbiome plays an important role in energy regulation, fat storage and metabolism.
  • Your microbiome influences insulin sensitivity which plays an important role in whether you are storing or burning calories.
  • A disruption in your microbiome may be at the source of elevated inflammation, measured by a simple blood test known as “hsCRP”. Elevated inflammation slows your metabolism by cueing your body to store, rather than burn, calories.

Immune health

  • The microbiome helps maintain the gut barrier, preventing bad bugs and toxins from gaining entry to the rest of your body.
  • Whether in your colon or mouth or genitalia – good bacteria fight bad microbes, protecting you from infections.
  •  A healthy microbiome contributes to developing “immune tolerance”. This gives your body the ability to recognize you VS mistaking your tissue (ie thyroid, colon, skin) as an invader and mounting an attack as is the case with autoimmune disorders.


  • Your gut microbes play an important role in eliminating toxins such as pharmaceuticals, environmental pollutants, heavy metals, xenoestrogens and your naturally-made estrogens via your bowel movements.
  • A disruption of your microbiome can cause the reabsorption of toxins. The fancy scientific name for this is “enterohepatic reabsorption.”
  • The saying goes, “We’re not just what we eat. We’re what we don’t excrete…!”

Focus + mental health

  • Gut microbes play a role in our production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin that play an important role in our mood.
  •  The microbes in your colon communicate with your brain, further impacting mood and cognitive function.
  •  A disruption in the microbiome has been associated with anxiety, depression, OCD and ADHD.


  • Good gut microbes help us break down food, giving us the ability to turn food into energy.
  • They help us extract and absorb vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  • Beneficial microbes play an important role in healthy, symptom-free digestion and bowel movements.

Heart Health

  • Your microbiome plays an important role in inflammation as measured by a simple blood test called “hsCRP”. Increased inflammation is associated with increased risk of heart disease and a cardiovascular event such as a stroke or a heart attack.
  • Your microbiome influences insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, key factors in the development of type 2 diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes are at increased risk of heart disease.
  • Your microbiome influences lipid metabolism, affecting your cholesterol levels.
  • Your microbiome plays a role in your weight, and your weight plays an important role in your heart health.

*This blog is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical care. 

Wondering if a disruption of your microbiome is a root-cause of your symptoms and health conundrums? Consider scheduling a Health Audit and taking a “test, don’t guess” approach to your health!