Tips To Boost Your Gut Microbiome
Your gut microbiome is a vast community of trillions of bacteria and fungi that inhabit every nook and cranny of your gastrointestinal tract, and have a major influence on your metabolism, body weight, propensity to illness, immune system, appetite and mood. These microbes mostly live in your lower intestine and outnumber all the other cells in your body put together.
Conceptually, we should view these microbes as a newly discovered organ, weighing slightly more than our brains and nearly as vital. There are some organs we can live without, including our spleen, gall bladder, tonsils and appendix, but we wouldnt survive long without our gut microbes. Intriguingly, no two microbiomes are the same we are all unique. And more than ever, were finding out just how important these microbes are.
Read more about the microbiome:
According to research, the richer and more diverse the community of gut microbes are, the lower your risk of disease and allergies. This has been shown in animal tests and also in human studies comparing the microbes of people with and without particular diseases. Examples from recent work at Kings College London include studies of diabetes, obesity, allergy and inflammatory diseases like colitis and arthritis.
Meanwhile, there is mounting evidence that babies born via caesarean section miss out on some of the microbes they would obtain through a vaginal birth, which may make them more vulnerable to allergies and asthma.
Effects Of Food And Drugs On The Gut Microbiota
Specific foods and dietary patterns can all influence the abundance of different types of bacteria in the gut, which in turn can affect health .
Examples of foods, nutrients, and dietary patterns that influence human health linked to their effect on the gut microbiota
High-intensity sweeteners are commonly used as sugar alternatives, being many times sweeter than sugar with minimal calories. Despite being generally recognised as safe by regulatory agencies, some animal studies have shown that these sugar substitutes may have negative effects on the gut microbiota.46 Sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin have been shown to disrupt the balance and diversity of gut microbiota.46 Rats given sucralose for 12 weeks had significantly higher proportions of Bacteroides, Clostridia, and total aerobic bacteria in their guts and a significantly higher faecal pH than those without sucralose.47 Mice given sucralose for six months had an increase in the expression in the gut of bacterial pro-inflammatory genes and disrupted faecal metabolites.48
Other areas of concern include the side effects of popular restrictive diets on gut health. These include some strict vegan diets, raw food or clean eating diets, gluten-free diets, and low FODMAP diets used to treat irritable bowel syndrome.
Box 2 summarises our current knowledge on the interactions between gut microbiota, nutrition, and human health.
Aquatic And Marine Environment
Microorganisms make up a big part of marine life and because of their ability to fix nitrogen and carbon they also form the basis of the oceans food web.5 Photosynthetic algae and bacteria are the major components of marine phytoplankton and therefore the main food source for fish and other marine animals.6 Some microscopic algae however can produce toxic compounds and if fish and shellfish feed on these harmful algae, they can accumulate the toxins. If people are consuming those fish or shellfish they are ingesting the toxins too. This can have a negative impact on human health and lead to food poisoning.10 Microorganisms are present in the oceans in such large numbers and high diversity that scientists have so far only been able to characterize a small fraction of them.9
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The Microbiome: How Gut Bacteria Regulate Our Health
Our bodies contain almost as many microbial cells as human cells. This community of organisms is called the microbiome, and we are increasingly learning what a huge role they play in all aspects of our health.
In this episode of our video series Science with Sam, find out what your microbiome does for you, and how to nurture a healthy internal ecology.
Research has shown that having a diverse microbiome particularly your gut bacteria has benefits not only for your digestive health, but many other organ systems, and even your brain. That has led to the idea that treatments targeting the microbiome may be able to improve our mental health.
Manipulating The Gut Microbiota Through Diet
Changes to the gut microbiota can occur within days of changing diet remarkable differences were found after African Americans and rural Africans switched diets for only two weeks.66 Increased abundance of known butyrate producing bacteria in the African Americans consuming a rural African diet caused butyrate production to increase 2.5 times and reduced synthesis of secondary bile acid.66 Another study comparing extreme shifts between plant and animal protein based diets showed these changes after only five days.67 But healthy microbiota are resilient to temporal changes by dietary interventions, meaning that homeostatic reactions restore the original community composition, as recently shown in the case of bread 68
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A Healthy Microbiome Is A Diverse Microbiome
It is hard to say precisely what constitutes a healthy gut, but one thing researchers do agree on is that a more diverse microbiome is generally a healthier microbiome.
Research suggests that having a wide array of microbes in our gut makes our microbiome more capable and resilient. A diverse microbiome can function better than a microbiome with only a few kinds of bacteria because if one microbe is unable to fulfil its function, another is available to step in.
Unlike our genetics, we can influence which bacteria live in our gut. While some of the factors that affect the bacteria that live in our gut are difficult to change – like genetics, stressful events, or illness – we can modify and control our lifestyle behaviors.â
Your Microbiome Affects How You Respond To Food
The bacteria that live in our gut may explain why even identical twins with the same genes respond to the same foods differently. Scientists can accurately predict how our blood sugar changes after food using data about our gut bacteria. In contrast, our genetic data do not accurately predict our responses to food.
Researchers have found that the identity of the microbes living in our gut can also impact the effectiveness of changes to how we eat. A 2015 study from the University of Gothenburg showed that people with high levels of a particular type of bacteria in their gut called Prevotella responded better to dietary changes intended to improve blood sugar control.
Like any ecosystem, the community of microbes in our gut is a delicate balance. When the microbes in our gut are out of balance , we can often run into problems. This imbalance has been associated with a range of conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and even cancer. We donât entirely understand it yet, but stress, illness, being overweight, overuse of antibiotics, and eating poor quality food are all thought to be contributing factors.â
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What Is Gut Microbiome Diversity
What makes your gut different to other people is in part determined by differences in your gut microbiome diversity. Low diversity is so important that its even associated with serious chronic diseases, such as obesity, type II diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Even allergies and cancer can be linked to changes in the microbiome bacteria.
So what is gut microbiome diversity? Approximately 1,000 bacterial species live in your gut, 90% of which are either Bacteroidetes or Firmicutes. To measure diversity, products like the Atlas Microbiome Test by Atlasbiomed.com use DNA sequencing to analyse the bacteria in your stool and calculate microbial species richness and abundance in your gut.
Abundance refers to how many different species of bacteria there are, while richness tells you how different those species are relative to one another. An additional measure is how different the microbiome is across different parts of the gut.
The relationship between your body and its gut bacteria is symbiotic: you help them, and they help you. Basically you give them a home and food and, in return, their activities and beneficial substances contribute to your health. What food you may wonder? Well, gut bacteria largely digest carbohydrates, plant fibre, and other substances found in your food for energy.
Our Gut Microbiome Is Just Like Another Organ
Our microbiome especially the bacteria populating the gut takes care of many tasks relevant to our well-being. For example, through fermentation, bacteria digest fibres that our small gut cannot break down, and synthesise vitamins.
As Dr. Daniela Weiler, oncologist at the Lucerne Hospital and specialist of nutritional medicine, states in a Curaden Academy webinar on the microbiome and nutrition, gut bacteria can manufacture about 95% of the bodys supply of serotonin, which regulates our mood. The microbiome also communicates with our immune system, has an impact on metabolism and when not well balanced can influence the development of diseases.
As early as the start of the 1990s, scientists started to refer to the gut microbiota as a virtual or forgotten organ. And like any other organ, as explained by microbiologist Fernando Baquero, the microbiome has physiology and pathology, and its individual health might be damaged when its collective population structure is altered.
However, unlike other organs, we still dont know a lot about it. In fact, even though thousands of research studies have already been carried out, the human microbiome is still an almost unexplored land.
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Why You Need To Start Paying Attention To Your Skin Microbiomeespecially Now
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“Healthy skin is anything but squeaky clean!” says New York City dermatologist Whitney Bowe, M.D., of the dirty truth behind a robust skin microbiome. Just like the gut, the skin has its own unique ecosystem of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that impact how it functions. Keeping it in balance is essential for maintaining a hydrated and glowing complexion. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, where the ultra-hygienic atmosphere has us thinking more about our skin’s interaction with its environment, experts break down what the skin microbiome is and how to nurture it for happier, healthier skin.
Personalised Nutrition And Future Directions
Given the variation in the gut microbiota between people, the optimal diet of a person may need to be tailored to their gut microbiota. Zeevi et al.94 obtained a multidimensional microbiota profile in 900 people and monitored food intake, continuous blood glucose levels, and physical activity for one week. The researchers devised a machine learning algorithm to predict personalised glucose responses after meals based on clinical and gut microbiome data and showed that it achieved significantly higher predictions than approaches such as carbohydrate counting or glycaemic index scores. In a follow-up double blinded randomised crossover trial of 26 participants, personalised dietary interventions based on the algorithm successfully normalised blood glucose levels.94
A study on response to bread68 using a randomised crossover trial of one week long dietary interventions showed significant interpersonal variability in the glycaemic response to different bread types. The type of bread that induced the lower glycaemic response in each person could be predicted based solely on microbiome data collected before the intervention.68 Much more research is needed to establish whether these kinds of personalised approaches are feasible, sustainable, and have a positive effect on clinical outcomes.
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Fermented Foods Are Gut
Fermented foods are another great source of probiotics. The crowd favourite is yogurt, however, if youre going to be eating a lot of yogurt, make sure that it is sugar-free! There are several other options that are a great source of good bacteria. Kombucha is becoming a very popular source of probiotics. You can also eat things like pickles, kimchee, and kefir to ensure that youre getting enough live cultures to keep your gut healthy and happy.
Temperature Abuse Of Probiotics During Production Storage & Delivery Can Significantly Reduce The Potency Of Probiotics 70
- Taking probiotics is only one part of the microbiome health puzzle. At Biom, our expert scientists nutritionists and health practitioners provide free consultation on diet and dietary supplements optimized for your microbiome. As a separate service, we can track and catalogue your temporal microbiome changes and recommend diet & supplements plan
- We provide 24/7 customer services for our valued customers
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The Gut Microbiome May Benefit Heart Health
Interestingly, the gut microbiome may even affect heart health .
A recent study in 1,500 people found that the gut microbiome played an important role in promoting good HDL cholesterol and triglycerides .
Certain unhealthy species in the gut microbiome may also contribute to heart disease by producing trimethylamine N-oxide .
TMAO is a chemical that contributes to blocked arteries, which may lead to heart attacks or stroke.
Certain bacteria within the microbiome convert choline and L-carnitine, both of which are nutrients found in red meat and other animal-based food sources, to TMAO, potentially increasing risk factors for heart disease .
However, other bacteria within the gut microbiome, particularly Lactobacilli, may help reduce cholesterol when taken as a probiotic .
Certain bacteria within the gut microbiome can produce chemicals that may block arteries and lead to heart disease. However, probiotics may help lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.
The Oral Microbiome Is A Complex And Diverse Eco
This includes over 800 species of bacteria. These bacteria are super intelligent, have an amazing survival capacity and have been on the planet, it is believed, at least 3 billion years before us!
When the environment in the mouth is healthy these mouth bugs live quite happily together in what is known as a symbiotic relationship a mutually beneficial relationship with us.
When the environment of the mouth is unhealthy the balance of the oral microbiome can be upset resulting not only in dental issues, but also causing issues to arise elsewhere in the body.
When the oral microbiome mixes with the saliva and plaque in our mouths it forms what is known as a biofilm. This is the sticky layer you can feel when you run your tongue over your teeth.
This biofilm coats all of the surfaces in our mouths and performs vital functions to help keep our mouths healthy. It is like a protective coating.
A healthy, balanced biofilm helps to remineralise our teeth, bringing oxygen to the gums and protects us from harmful bacteria entering the body through the mouth.
As such, there are no good and bad bacteria in our mouths. According to recent research it is rather the environment that the bacteria live in that determines their behaviour. A number of the bacteria associated with tooth decay and gum disease can actually be totally harmless when the microbiome is in balance!
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The Human Microbiome And Its Impacts On Health
Grace A. Ogunrinola
1Department of Biological Sciences, Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria
The human microbiome comprises bacteria, archaea, viruses, and eukaryotes which reside within and outside our bodies. These organisms impact human physiology, both in health and in disease, contributing to the enhancement or impairment of metabolic and immune functions. Micro-organisms colonise various sites on and in the human body, where they adapt to specific features of each niche. Facultative anaerobes are more dominant in the gastrointestinal tract, whereas strict aerobes inhabit the respiratory tract, nasal cavity, and skin surface. The indigenous organisms in the human body are well adapted to the immune system, due to the biological interaction of the organisms with the immune system over time. An alteration in the intestinal microbial community plays a major role in human health and disease pathogenesis. These alterations result from lifestyle and the presence of an underlying disease. Dysbiosis increases host susceptibility to infection, and the nature of which depends on the anatomical site involved. The unique diversity of the human microbiota accounts for the specific metabolic activities and functions of these micro-organisms within each body site. It is therefore important to understand the microbial composition and activities of the human microbiome as they contribute to health and disease.
2. The Human Microbiome and Disease
Predators Inside The Gut
Similarly to macro-ecosystems where the influence of human activity reduces biodiversity by the reduction of large predators, we hypothesize that the Western lifestyle reduces the diversity of the intestinal microbiota by loss of bacterial predation. Several microorganisms such as protists, bacteriophages and predatory bacteria are known to be predators of components of the gut microbiota.
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How A Healthy Microbiome May Prevent Coronavirus Infections
When your gut is healthy, you have a much better chance of staving off infections. So, it makes sense that a healthy gut microbiome could prevent you from severe COVID-19 infection. In addition, people with high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity have the worst outcomes when they become ill from COVID-19 and other infections. And these conditions are associated with negative changes in the composition of the gut microbiome, possibly from medications as well as diet.
A preliminary study showed that a less-than-optimal gut microbiome was highly correlated with proinflammatory cytokines and that certain gut microbiota can predispose individuals to severe COVID-19. The reason may be because the coronavirus enters the body by binding to the ACE2 enzyme, which plays an important role in the regulation of intestinal inflammation and affects the microbes that play a role in diseases of the heart and lungs. This may mean that a healthy gut microbiome prevents some COVID-19 patients from experiencing the cytokine storm seen in severe cases.
Like everything else, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to your microbiome. You may be a strict vegetarian, eat the Paleo way or fall somewhere in between. The key is to keep supporting your microbiome with the foods that are healthy for you.
How have you taken measures to heal your gut? Do you notice a difference in your overall health? Please share your comments below.