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Gut Health and Sleep

The gut microbiome has been an increasingly touted topic over the past several years, due to the multifaceted benefits it elicits on our general health and well-being – but despite our gut health being the well-known solid foundation to our health, not many of us are aware of the impact it can have on our sleep parameters. 

Gut Biodiversity and Sleep

A recently published study revealed that the brain-gut-microbiome axis (BGMA) can influence sleep quality, dependent on the biodiversity [1]. This not only means that a diverse environment can have a positive role in our sleep, but certain bacterial strains can conversely exert a negative impact. The strains present in our gut can directly influence the modulation of certain neurotransmitters such as GABA and serotonin (which is needed to make melatonin), as well as inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6 [1]. What does this mean day-to-day? Well, in simple terms, what, how & when we eat, and how we manage stress, significantly influences our gut microbiome. Moreover, another pivotal factor that plays into the environment of our gut is our genetic predispositions – but not to worry! There are a few ways you can support all of these factors to get your gut to optimal health and get you sleeping better.

3 Ways to Improve Gut Biodiversity

  • Get genetic testing. This is such a vital and individualised component to tailoring our health protocols.  For example, having a polymorphism in the FUT2 gene may render the inability to produce certain beneficial strains of bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium. 
  • Avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics, as it can wreak havoc on our gut biodiversity and result in infections such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). (Antibiotics are certainly essential in some cases. Talk to your integrative doctor to see what route is best for you)
  • Replace refined sugary foods with delicious seasonal vegetables and fruits! And if you like to make sweet but healthy treats like myself, consider monk fruit as a replacement to sugar

Gut Infections and Sleep

Do you find yourself waking up within the night, specifically around 1-3 or 3-4? Experiencing nightmares? An underlying parasitic infection may be the culprit of this. Parasites are most active during the night and especially around full/new moon. Furthermore, these infections are surprisingly more common than you think – experts say anywhere between 50% and MOST of the population suffer from parasitic infections to varying degrees, and our immune system and environment significantly determine how this affects us. 

3 Ways to Address Gut Infections

  • Get tested! Autonomic Response Testing (A.R.T) is an advanced form of muscle testing which can detect underlying parasitic infections (as well as fungi, bacteria and viruses) which often are difficult to detect in conventional testing, due to the cyclic nature and adaptative mechanisms of parasites and other bugs.
  • Wash your fruit and vegetables thoroughly to prevent further transmission.
  • Get an individualised protocol with your functional medicine practitioner to safely address infections.

Next, we will be looking at how detoxification impacts our sleep quality. Stay tuned!

 

By Fallon Cashell. 

 

[1] Smith, R. P., Easson, C., Lyle, S. M., Kapoor, R., Donnelly, C. P., Davidson, E. J., … Tartar, J. L. (2019). Gut microbiome diversity is associated with sleep physiology in humans. Plos One, 14(10), e0222394. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0222394