This event is held every year over Queens birthday long weekend, and it is always something that I look forward to. Being in an environment where there were over 600 practitioners from all over Australia and New Zealand is powerful.
This year the topic under the microscope was the microbiome. This refers to the bacteria that live inside and on us. Starting out with the history of how as a society we have gotten to the way we think about bugs was interesting enough, however these bacteria are actually fascinating creatures. We as humans actually only have 1 cell to every 10 bacterial cell. Dr Jeff Bland (who is termed the father of functional medicine) gave a great overview as to how the non-coding or what has previously referred to as junk-DNA, has enormous control over what happens within our bodies.
A common theme amongst the speakers was the profound effect of the microbiome upon human health. One of the primary mechanisms is the inflammatory response triggered by dysbiosis. This inflammatory trigger was explored in several presentations including one on mental health (Dr Alan Logan), cardiometabolic health (Dr Jeffrey Bland), autoimmune conditions (Prof Rob Knight) and CIRS (Dr Keith Berndtson). One of the key mechanisms is a disrupted microbiome leading to an increase in intestinal permeability allowing translocation of dysbiotic endotoxins into systemic circulation creating multi-system, multi-symptom disease states.
With an increasing number of the population suffering from digestive and food allergy/intolerance based issues, it is powerful to know that there is plenty of action that we can all take to improve not only our digestive health but our overall health.
There is always an aspect of awe when walking away from an event like this. Our bodies are such highly calibrated organisms of which we are only just starting to learn how what we do effects our health. The biodiversity that we have in our microbiome is an important factor in how well our body functions and the level of health that we will enjoy. Making food choices on a regular basis that can support the growth of a well-functioning gut is a great first step in investing in your health.