I think we can all agree that the topic of gut health is complicated. And quite frankly, sometimes, thinking about it gives me a headache. But understanding what our gut microbes do and what they want can be helpful. Since the bad guys are giving us health issues, then we need to give the good guys a helping hand.
Recently researchers have discovered that bacteria appear to change in both abundance and composition during a 24-hour cycle. And the bacteria changes location in well. This means that the gut is not static.
Apparently, they move a little to the right and a little to the left and then back to their original location.
Researchers speculate this allows different bacteria the opportunity to connect with the surface of the intestines and therefore, communicate with the rest of the body. What they are telling the body will depends on which bacteria and strains are doing the talking, both good and bad.
This could explain why people feel symptoms more acutely at different times of the day.
Some bacteria have their own circadian rhythm and influence the circadian rhythm of other organs in the body such as the liver.
And this has led to one piece of interesting information. In one study, researchers gave mice a toxic dose of acetaminophen to see how the liver responded. They discovered that the dose was less toxic when given in the morning than when given in the evening.
Potentially, this could lead to better administration of drugs so they cause less damage to the host.
We don’t have a lot of useful information to help ourselves or clients just yet. But paying more attention to how we feel during the day could help us develop better strategies for eating and sleeping.
So let’s be observant:
When are you the most upbeat during the day? Feeling best in the morning could be a reflection of the kind of sleep you had during the night. Feeling better in the evening can be a reflection of the quality of food you ate during the day. We do not know yet what this means our microbes are busy doing.
Even when a person suffers from depression, there are changes in the level throughout the day and from day to day.
What does eating do to you? When do you feel the best after a meal? And once you make that connection – what did you eat and what time of day did you eat it. Both can make a difference as to how you feel, both physically and emotionally.
What happens when you stay up too late – how do you feel the next day – physically and emotionally? Paying attention to this can help you discover your best time to go to bed and how much sleep you need.
How well do you sleep? What is the quality of the sleep? Do you go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning, approximately? What happens when you alter your routine?
Poor quality sleep can throw off not only the body’s circadian rhythm but the microbes circadian rhythm as well. And we need a consistency to our schedule.
Until science figures it all out, we are our own best source of information. We have to stop following one- size-fits-all eating and lifestyle theories. And start paying attention to our own body and what it has to tell us.
Each person has their own microbial composition and working on changing it for the better is a long-term proposition. There are supplements and food strategies that can help but we still need to be observant as to how we feel to truly know we are making the right decisions.
Christoph A. Thaiss et al. Microbiota Diurnal Rhythmicity Programs Host Transcriptome Oscillations. Cell, December 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.11.003
Timing the Microbes: The Circadian Rhythm of the Gut Microbiome, Xue Liang, Garret A. FitzGerald1, Journal of Biological Rhythym, Vol 32, Issue 6, 2017