Aging well, a Good-night’s Sleep and Your Gut– The Microbiome Influence

By: Dr. Deedra Mason

The relationship between nutrient synthesis, gut biota and achieving REM sleep is more intimate than you think.  Maintaining health, both an active and energetic physical and mental health requires a previously underappreciated reverence for the health of our gut inhabitants.  While many adults accept changes in body composition, energy, sexual function and mobility as natural part of aging, a simple approach at improved gut health is both within our control and can significantly change for the better many of these aging factors.

There are countless ways to support a healthy gut environment.  Start with a diet rich in colorful fermentable foods, limiting processed foodstuff, reducing exposure to environmental toxins, putting an emphasis on physical activity, avoiding stress and getting enough sleep.  All too often, these lifestyle “tweaks” are overlooked, dismissed as unnecessary or we simply bargain our way out of “starting today” to eat, sleep and exercise better.  Yet, all of those factors have something in common: they support the optimal environment for healthy gut bugs that in turn help synthesize Vitamin D, Vitamin K, and B- vitamins. Normal bacterial intestinal biofilms allow nutrients to be absorbed, and unhealthy factors to be eliminated.  This affects every system in your body including energy levels, moods, weight, mental clarity and immune function.


There are two sides of gut biota phylum.  This is the classification system of the natural gut bugs we carry with us each day.   The Bacteroides Phylum and the Firmicutes Phylum.  When one is out of balance, the Firmicutes, we see increased weight, mental lethargy as well as increased rate of decline in our systemic health. While the other side of the coin with Bacteroidetes in dominance, we see a more slender frame, improved energy metabolism and cardio-metabolic health is improved.


Thanks to far-reaching research and clinical trials, these biotic strains and the factors that prompt and sustain their longevity have been recognized, and proper foods and probiotic/prebiotic sources can exert a genuine effect.


Recent research has implicated the gut microbiota as a critical determinant of nutrient uptake, energy regulation, and ultimately, weight and metabolic disorders.  In a 2011 study from Endocrinology Nature Reviews, researchers revealed evidence that targeting gut microbiota by increasing “Beneficial Bacteroidetes” and decreasing “Flabby Vermiculites” they could influence obesity and its metabolic risk factors.


It is a wild thought, but these small colonies of bacteria dictate how the “fuel” we take in is stored, where it is stored and if it is predominately a triglyceride or an LDL.   A follow-up study looked at diets that support increasing Bacteroidetes.  A diet rich in plant fiber and healthy short-chain fatty acids from legumes and some fats are shown to not just increase Bacteroidetes, but also improve the way the body harvests energy.  Specifically, L. rhamnosus improves appetite sensations, eating, and emotion-related behaviors, thus lending support to the hypothesis that the gut-brain axis may affect appetite control and obesity management.


The tendency that is seen in many adults as they age, or in individuals of any age when they do not eat a diet to support a healthy biome, is an increase in inflammation and pathogenic/problematic growth of gram-positive gut bugs implicated in disease.  These changes often result in a trade of fat mass for muscle mass, reduction in exercise endurance, quality sleep and sexual desire with simultaneous increases in stress, blood pressure, and inflammation.


If we are able to leverage natural means of supporting crucial probiotic/bacteria levels, we can successfully maintain vitality, agelessness, metabolism and sexual health.



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