DNA & Your Gut Biome
Where do we start…It’s so BIG! But let’s start with our DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid). The building blocks of life as we know it. It is found in every living thing on the planet and found in every single cell in our bodies. Stepping back to the BIG, 2 metres of DNA can be found in EACH of the cells in our body of which there are an estimated 100 trillion (give or take a few trillion) so thats around 200 trillion (give a take a few more trillion) metres of DNA in an average human body! To be honest, I'm not sure BIG covers it!
So what is it?
DNA is a long molecule that contains each person’s unique genetic code, it is the blueprint for how we develop and grow, how we reproduce and how our bodies function on a daily basis. It is a two-stranded molecule that appears twisted, giving it a unique shape referred to as the double helix (I always wanted a spiral staircase, turns out I've got trillions).
The two long strands (side members if we picture a ladder) are long sequences of individual units (nucleotides) made of a phosphate molecule, a sugar molecule (deoxyribose), which contains five carbons, and nitrogen-containing regions which hold them together.
There are four nitrogen-containing regions called bases (the rungs of the ladder) which are called Adenine (A), Cytosine (C), Guanine (G) and Thymine (T) and it is the order of these four bases that form our instructions for life, our genetic coding.
Within the ladder, A always sticks to T (Adenine to Thymine), and G always sticks to C (Guanine to Cytosine) to create the “rungs” with the side members of the ladder being formed by the sugar and phosphate groups.
Most DNA is found in the nuclei of cells with some being found in mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of the cells, where we get our energy from in the form of ATP. Not forgetting the size of these DNA strands they need to be packed neatly, being found looped, coiled and wrapped around proteins called histones. This coiled state is called chromatin. Chromatin is further condensed, through a process called supercoiling, and it is then packaged into structures called chromosomes.
Each chromosome contains one DNA molecule. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes or 46 chromosomes in total. Interestingly (why is it interesting..?), fruit flies have 8 chromosomes.
Each length of DNA that codes for a specific protein is called a gene. For example, one gene codes for the protein insulin, the hormone that helps control levels of sugar in the blood. Humans have around 20,000–30,000 genes, although estimates vary.
Our genes only account for around 3 percent of our DNA, the remaining 97 percent is less understood. The outstanding DNA is thought to be involved in regulating transcription and translation which leads us nicely into how genes create a protein via the aforementioned.
First up is transcription: The DNA code is copied to create messenger RNA (Ribonucleic acid) or mRNA. RNA is a copy of DNA, but it is normally single-stranded. Another difference is that RNA does not contain the base thymine (T), which is replaced by uracil (U).
Then we have translation: The mRNA is translated into amino acids by transfer RNA (tRNA).
mRNA is read in three-letter sections called codons. Each codon codes for a specific amino acid or building block of a protein. For instance, the codon GUG codes for the amino acid valine. Below is the table for codon coding with valine found in the bottom left.
There are 20 possible amino acids.
Friends in strange places..
A study found that healthy gut bacteria hold on to vital amino acids which as we have just discovered are used for producing the building blocks of life…and interestingly (is it interesting or is it a mere coincidence..?) is that they used fruit flies.
The researchers observed the response of oriental fruit flies (Bactrocera dorsalis) to a laboratory foraging arena. Half of the 60 flies were first fed antibiotic-laced sugar to eliminate their resident gut microbes—which are able to produce nitrogen from non-essential amino acids. The team then starved the flies of protein for 24 hours and then offered them a selection of food droplets of different sizes consisting of sugar, minerals, and either a full complement of 20 amino acids, or just 9 non-essential amino acids, which are a poor source of nitrogen.
They found that flies lacking gut bacteria landed and started feeding faster, spent longer feeding, and consumed more droplets of food than flies that still possessed a normal gut microbiome. Flies with a functioning microbiome chose to feed on larger droplets, regardless of their nutritional composition, whereas flies that had been fed antibiotics were constrained to feeding on droplets containing essential amino acids like arginine and leucine.
So what does this little study of fruit flies tell us? It tells us that with the correct balance of these little critters in our gut actually provide us with the correct amino acids for what we need, obviously they won’t sustain us forever as they need to refuel too BUT when we are low they are happy to help us out and provide us with what we’re missing without any fuss, aren’t they nice little chappies. It tells us that with a healthy gut biome we don't have to eat as much or as often for our body to provide the vital amino acids needed for healthy balanced living.
We are the 10%
If you’ve read my previous blog on philosophical-science (if not why not..? 😉 it can be found here just in case https://www.yogeekyoga.com/post/philosophical-science) you’d have heard me ask the question what are we? Literally looking in the mirror, what do we see..? Is it ‘you’ is it ‘me’? (I'd be worried if I saw you in my mirror, man that would be weird wouldn’t it..seeing someone else’s face instead of your own!) Today, rather than flying away with consciousness (or other peoples faces), we are landing in the body and its parts, or should I say friends, helpers or maybe, even, colleagues. We have an estimated 90 trillion bacteria, fungi and other interesting creatures living in and on us at any given time with 10,000 species of bacteria which help make up the human eco system so getting this balance right is essential!
Everyone’s gut biome is unique - just like our fingerprints. We started developing our biome the moment we were born but what can it do for us..?
When we are working in harmony it can -
Enhance our immune system
By sending a ‘heads up’ of incoming infection to our immune system.
Improve our digestion and metabolism
By breaking down micronutrients, binding fibrous foods with heavy metals and oestrogenic chemicals, maintaining our gut wall integrity & synthesises vitamins and nutrients.
Helps our brain…but which one..?
Did you know the gut is known as the second brain? Did you know it generates MORE neural activity than the brain? Did you know the brain and the gut share the SAME tissue and their structural features even resemble each other? Oooh the vagus nerve(s) (there’ll be a blog on this little baby soon) but for now I’ll just say it serves as a communication pathway between the gut and the brain making them both independent AND interdependent of each other.
Ups our hormone production
90% of our serotonin is produced in our guts! Ups our production of melatonin - ‘darkness hormone’ to improve healthy sleep patterns, it works with our GABA (calming and relaxation hormones, fertility and menopause, helps heal mental and emotional trauma via oxytocin receptors found in the gut, dopamine to help us achieve goals and gives us that little rush when we do! And alertness via noradrenaline by readying us for action!
Helps us control our weight
In 2013 a team from Washington University School of Medicine took gut microbes from 4 sets of human twins of which one was obese and the other lean. They introduced the microbes of each into different groups of mice that had been raised in a previously germ-free environment. They then observed weight and metabolic changes in the mice corresponding to the humans who’s microbes they had received. The obese humans microbes resulted in obese mice even though both sets of mice were fed the same diet.
You are what you eat..An old wives tale or scientific fact?
Epigenetic's is the study of how different biological and environmental signals affect gene expression. Epigenetic signals can, for example, prompt changes in the number of methyl chemical groups attached to a gene, quite literally turning it on or off. A person’s diet, including those little 90 trillion helpers are an important source of epigenetic signals. Scientists are now revealing how eating habits modify gene expression in adults. Understanding that relationship will help researchers identify nutritional elements that will help prevent or treat diseases such as obesity, diabetes, coronary artery disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s to name but a few.
Going back to some germ free mice (a different bunch over in the University of Wisconsin-Madison) we are shown another vital role of our little friends in our gut, that of mediator of host gene expression through the epigenome, the chemical information that regulates which genes in cells are active and reveals how the metabolites produced by the bacteria in the stomach chemically communicate with cells, including cells far beyond the colon, to dictate gene expression and health in its host (us - or the mice in this case).
How do we know what we need?
A good place to start is our own DNA..Nobody knows us better than our own genetic blueprint. What would you say if we can now have our blueprints read and explained to us? Literally written out in glorious technicolour, a lifetimes instruction of what our body needs for optimal functionality. No more fad diets, no more calorie counting and with any luck no more having to avoid your favourite foods. We can be told what is good, what is bad and even frequencies of when we can have some of the naughty bits. It would be totally personal to you, not someone else's opinion on what you should or should not eat or drink but your very own make up, your personal DNA blueprint telling you what is good for you.
What if, not only that, we could give our gut biome a helping hand to reset itself. We could help our friends help us! Biome DT utilises three distinct pathways to provide breakthrough purification, by activating detoxification, cleansing with fibre to eliminate toxins and balancing the microbiome.
Detoxification Activates enzymes and genes to eliminate heavy metals and other toxins at a cellular level. Both Broccoli and L-Glutamine detoxify and help reduce intestinal inflammation Cleansing Cleans, lubricates and soothes the digestive lining with soluble, insoluble, and fermentable fibers. It lubricates and supports the digestive system. And it supports healthy elimination through both urine and bowels. Balancing To help balance the Microbiome, it contains inulin, a soluble fiber that feeds healthy microflora as well as glutamine for gut lining repair. The ingredients balance gut pH to support the beneficial bacteria.
L-Glutamine is an essential amino acid to help treat leaky gut and improve your overall health. The first wide spread use of this amino acid was in the fitness industry to help preserve muscle tissue. As science began to study this amino acid, the following benefits were documented:
1. Improves gastrointestinal health by helping the intestines rebuild and repair
2. Helps heal ulcers and leaky gut
3. Helps with memory, focus, and concentration as a neurotransmitter in the brain
4. Improves IBS and diarrhoea by balancing mucus production
5. Promotes muscle growth and decreases muscle wasting
6. Improves athletic performance and recovery
7. Improves metabolism and cellular detoxification
8. Curbs cravings for sugar and alcohol
9. Improves blood sugar levels
While inulin is an excellent Prebiotic. In addition to nourishing the good bacteria it also assists with the digestion and absorption of your food. Inulin plays a significant role in:
1. Your immune system 2. Improved heart health 3. Bone health 4. Reducing the potential for colon cancer 5. Helping to protect against inflammatory bowel disease
6. Aiding in the prevention of constipation
Once we have reset we can rebuild and refresh our gene activation! Well guys n gals this is all totally possible, optimal health for your body and all its little helpers is just an email away.
Please feel free to comment below or email me questions as I have loads more info I can share but again I'm restricted in time on these blogs, as fun as they are they are only a glimpse into much bigger subjects. There will be more on DNA coming shortly from a more spiritual point of view as, of course you know, it is all connected. I can't thank you enough for your time in reading these words and expanding your knowledge with me, isn't it magic what we can uncover if we just look.