What the Heck Is My Microbiome, and Why Should I Care About It?

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Emily Burger is a Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, and  an NLP Life Coach. She lives in the Texas Panhandle, where she runs Texas Wellness Coaching and is a  manager for IVRS Wellness Center and Provision Health. Emily is a mother of four amazing kids and, as  an animal lover, considers her dogs part of the family as well. When she isn’t coaching or momming, Emily enjoys hiking and really trashy Netflix. 

Hello, Scratch To Basics fam! I am absolutely thrilled about my guest appearance on Megan’s blog today.  

My name is Emily, and I’ve been in the health space since my own health crash over a decade ago. I  have done protocol after protocol, yet what has had the most impact on my life, and my family’s, has been taking care of my microbiome

Microbiome who? What? 

Most of you probably know that when we talk about your microbiome, we are talking about the 100 TRILLION bacteria, both beneficial and nonbeneficial, that live inside you. There are actually more bacterial cells in your body RIGHT NOW than there are human cells! Crazy, right? I have even heard of  some nutritionists who believe that we are all just walking meat suits being controlled by the bacteria  living in our gut.  

I’m not quite there yet, but our microbiome is incredibly important. Here are just a few examples: 

  • In one study, mice were given antibiotics, which wiped out their commensal (beneficial)  gut bacteria. Their running performance decreased by HALF! 
  • The composition of your microbiome can make it easier, or more difficult, to lose  weight. 
  • Akkermansia is a species closely linked to the efficacy of immunotherapy in cancer  patients. These mucus-loving bacteria also love polyphenols-specifically from CRANBERRIES. Adding cranberries to a person’s diet can increase the number of  beneficial akkermansia in a hurry! 
  • The microbiome can be linked to many autoimmune diseases-both those linked to gut health, like Crohn’s, and those without a direct link to the gut, like Lupus, multiple sclerosis, and Type 1 Diabetes.
  • 80+% of your immune system resides in your gut! 
  • MANY of your neurotransmitters, which are important for such things as sleep and  mood, are made in your gut-including up to 95% of your serotonin! 

Cool, right? Were any of these surprising? The truth is, there is not a SINGLE health condition that cannot be linked back to gut health.  

But…what good does this information do us? 

DNA-based gut testing

What if I told you that we are able to do at-home, DNA-based gut testing, which will give us information about the composition of your microbiome, your inflammation levels, and your digestion?  

One of my favorite gut tests is the GI-MAP by Diagnostic Solutions. This is a one-day stool test that can be completed at home before it is shipped back to the lab for analysis. The GI-MAP tests for bacterial,  parasitic, fungal, and viral pathogens, commensal bacteria, and intestinal health markers.  

Results from this test allow practitioners (like me!) to build a personalized protocol supporting health at all levels. In my practice, I have seen improvements in digestion from these protocols, of course, but have also seen clients resolve issues with memory, energy, sleep, and skin health. 

As much as I believe in these tests, there are some drawbacks. Many people are uncomfortable with the thought of collecting a stool sample themselves, and I get it-when I ordered one of these tests for a teenager, it took him two weeks and several threats to have his phone taken away before he gathered the courage to get his test kit ready to ship back.  

Another drawback is the cost, and the fact that many insurance carriers do not cover these types of tests. 

How to support gut health without testing

So, what can you do to support your gut health without testing? Glad you asked! 

Consume a WIDE variety of plants.

I’m sure you’ve heard to “eat the rainbow” which is a great goal. I like to ask clients to shoot for 50 different plants per week. It sounds like a lot, but teas and spices count! Each bacterial species has a different job and likes a different type of “food,” so to encourage diversity, listen to your mom and eat your veggies! 

Eat fermented foods daily, if tolerated.

These may include sauerkraut, kimchi, high quality unsweetened yogurts, kombucha, and kefir. Sometimes, when a person’s gut needs a little healing and extra support, these foods may cause gas or bloating. That’s okay-even negative reactions give us valuable information! 

If you are on a probiotic supplement, swap it for another brand with different species occasionally.

I’m picky on supplements and recommend medical-grade probiotics to make sure that you are not throwing your money away. 


Sucralose (Splenda) has been shown to reduce some species of beneficial bacteria by HALF. Just because these artificial sweeteners do not increase blood glucose does not mean that they do not have other undesired effects on our bodies! 

And lastly, play in the dirt.

This is a tough one, especially given the past few years of sanitizing everything from our hands to our toothbrushes to our groceries, but humans were not made to exist in sterile environments. I’m a mom, and I have watched my child lick the elevator wall in a hospital, so believe me, I get the impulse to disinfect everything, but this does your microbiome (and your kids’ microbiomes!) a disservice. Go outside. Pet the dogs. Play in the dirt. Climb the trees. 

Hippocrates said centuries ago that “all disease begins in the gut.” I don’t know who I think I am to argue with Hippocrates, but I AM NLP-trained, so let’s flip that positively and say that all HEALTH begins in the gut, shall we? Whether you choose to test and not guess, or follow more general hacks, showing your microbiome some love is a beautiful start to any health improvement journey.

How to work with Emily:

Emily is currently taking a limited number of one-on-one clients. To order your own GI-MAP with personalized protocol, or to learn more, you may contact Emily at:

www.texaswellnesscoaching.com | [email protected] | (806) 236-4433

Clients local to the Amarillo/Texas Panhandle area may be able to access even more services by seeing Emily at IVRS Wellness Center and Provision Health. www.ivrstx.com

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