Microbiome is a term that is constantly being thrown around these days. Today I want to address it and what is the gut microbiome in particular.
I should first tell you that I’m starting with the general topic of microbiome because I have plans to talk about it in a more practical way in the future. For example, I have a post lined up to share called, “3 Simple Things You Can Do for Your Microbiome Today.” The information was gathered during Expo West when I met Kiran Krishnan.
You’ll enjoy the information, but I first wanted to at least give a little microbiome background.
There are many places that talk about the general microbiome. I searched through several, but I really liked THIS concise piece from the University of Washington. In it:
We humans are mostly microbes, over 100 trillion of them. Microbes outnumber our human cells ten to one. The majority live in our gut, particularly in the large intestine
The microbiome is the genetic material of all the microbes – bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses – that live on and inside the human body.
The number of genes in all the microbes in one person’s microbiome is 200 times the number of genes in the human genome. The microbiome may weigh as much as five pounds.
The bacteria in the microbiome help digest our food, regulate our immune system, protect against other bacteria that cause disease, and produce vitamins including B vitamins B12, thiamine and riboflavin, and Vitamin K, which is needed for blood coagulation.
The microbiome was not generally recognized to exist until the late 1990s.
Although the gut microbiome seems to be the primary area of conversation, the Human Microbiome Project is focused on studying the microbes residing in five body areas: skin, mouth, nose, colon and vagina.
Of course the colon is what you are likely most interested in discussing today and moving forward.
What I’d love to know from you, though, is would you like a post dedicated to the other ones at some point: airways, mouth, skin, vagina? Comment below if you do or send me a message HERE.
What is the Gut Microbiome
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According to this, 95 percent of human microbes are found in the gut. So now you can understand why the gut is at the top of microbiome research.
The microorganisms living inside the gastrointestinal tract amount to around 4 pounds of biomass.
“These bacteria live in your digestive system and they play a key role in digesting food you eat, and they help with absorbing and synthesizing nutrients too. Gut bugs are involved in many other important processes that extend beyond your gut, including your metabolism, body weight, and immune regulation, as well as your brain functions and mood. There are many factors that influence the type and amount of bacteria we host and although most of us belong to a certain ‘enterotype’ – similar to having a certain blood type – each person has a unique bacterial footprint.” (source)
Topics Surrounding the Gut Microbiome
As it relates to the gut microbiome, the topics are seemingly endless. Here is a list I have compiled:
- Immune system
- Its role in diseases inside and out of the gut. Examples: rheumatoid arthritis, colorectal cancer, obesity, and diabetes, IBD
- How environment affects the microbiome
- Vaginal vs. C-Section birth
- Formula vs. breast fed
- Clostridium difficile infection (C. Diff)
- How diet affects the microbiome
- Brain health
- Leaky Gut Syndrome
- Fermented Foods
One thing is certain about the gut microbiome and the topics surrounding it: you can change it.
Life happens, but your microbiome has the ability to quickly recover from anything and everything thrown at it. This resilience means changes within months, weeks, or even days. In fact, the average lifespan of a bacterium in your microbiome is 20 minutes. How your microbiome was altered to begin with will determine the length of time it takes to rehabilitate a damaged microbiome.
There is no doubt about it – the health of our gut microbiome is critical for overall health. And now that we have the very basics of it down, I can move on to other gut microbiome topics.
You will heal. I will help.