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Welcome April! I was on a refreshing run the other day and noticed the first signs of Spring coming alive! The daffodils were blooming, the faint aromas of flowers bursting, birds chirping, and worms were percolating through the awakening soil. This emerging ecosystem was working in synergy since they depend on each other for fuel to feed their life and abundance. This reminded me of another ecosystem that relies on food and fuel looking to create homeostasis and balance, the microbiome of our gut. Have you ever thought about the tens of trillions of microorganisms inhabiting your body? Our microbiome is made up of communities of bacteria and fungi inhabiting our skin, respiratory and genital system but primarily or digestive system. We have more than 1000 different known bacterial species in our digestive tract, which is called the gut microbiota. Many of you already know the gut microbiota is necessary to help us digest foods and absorb nutrients, but did you know it is also necessary for a healthy outlook on life, keep a healthy body weight, create a healthy immune system and utilize our food as fuel for energy? About 75% of the food in the typical Western diet are refined carbohydrates which are readily absorbed in the upper GI tract, by the time it reaches the large intestine there are no minerals, vitamins and other nutrients that are necessary for maintenance of the microbiota. Therefore this food is of limited or no benefit to the microbiota in the lower GI tract. Have you ever thought your gut microbiota could make you sad or have cravings? Yes, it can! Because we have 90% of Serotonin receptors in our gut, which is a key neurotransmitter for a better mood and outlook on life, we need a healthy microbiome for those receptors to be activated to help with appetite, mood and the movement of our food into waste. How about challenges losing those extra pesky pounds? Yes, it can! The studies have found that obese patients have a lower diversity in their microbiota and more "bad" and less "good" bacteria puts them at risk for Obesity and Diabetes Type II. What about causing you to have a suppressed immune system or even a risk of getting an auto-immune disease? Yes, it can! The microbiota helps recognize any “foreign” invaders like nasty pathogens, parasites, toxins and chemicals and helps us differentiate between what is normal or “host” from what is foreign and unwanted. As with nature and all ecosystems, there is balance and imbalance. Unfortunately, when your gut microbiota is out of balance, disease can ensue. The gut is truly the gateway to our health. A healthy gut is a healthy you! My desire is for you to balance this system so you can feel healthy, youthful and energized so that you can go out in the world feeling alive, ready to smell those flowers, smile at those worms, feel excited to exercise and laugh with friends and those you love!

Carrie Ballas

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