Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Why Is The Gut Microbiome Important

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Seven Simple Ways To Keep The Right Balance

Why is the gut microbiome important?

Eat more fibre Most of us eat only half the recommended 30g a day. But start slowly our guts dont like rapid change

Eat the rainbow Choose colourful fruits and vegetables and try to eat 30 different plants, nuts and seeds every week

Eat foods rich in polyphenols These include dark chocolate and red wine

Eat fermented foods Tim Spector favours kombucha, kefir and kimchi, as well as unpasteurised cheeses

Eat more omega 3 New research suggests a relationship between gut microbes, omega 3 and brain health

Let kids play with dirt and dogs Jack Gilberts research has shown that since the guts population is seeded in early life, allowing small children to dig in soil and play with domestic animals can undo a lot of the damage modern lifestyles do to our microbiomes

Avoid processed foods Cut back on salt and sugar, both of which seem to affect microbial diversity in the gut

Leon Happy Guts: Recipes to Help You Live Better is available for £14.78 from guardianbookshop.com

What Is The Gut Microbiota

The gut microbiota used to be called the microflora of the gut.

Around this time, in 1996, Dr. Rodney Berg, of Louisiana State Universitys Microbiology and Immunology department, wrote about the gut microbiota, summing up its profound importance.

The indigenous gastrointestinal tract microflora has profound effects on the anatomical, physiological, and immunological development of the host, Dr. Berg wrote, in a paper published in Trends in Microbiology.

The paper adds:

The indigenous microflora stimulates the host immune system to respond more quickly to pathogen challenge and, through bacterial antagonism, inhibits colonization of the GI tract by overt exogenous pathogens.

This symbiotic relationship benefits humans, and the presence of this normal flora includes microorganisms that are so present in the environment that they can be found in practically all animals from the same habitat.

However, these native microbes also include harmful bacteria that can overcome the bodys defenses that separate them from vital systems and organs. Examples include

In summary, there are beneficial bacteria in the gut, and there are harmful bacteria that can cross into wider systems and can cause local infections of the GI tract. These infections include food poisoning and other GI diseases that result in diarrhea and vomiting.

The gut microbiota contains over 3 million genes, making it 150 times more genetically varied than the human body.

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Effect Of Dietary Components Relevant To Exercise Nutrition On The Gut Microbiome

Confounding Effects of Diet

Diet is also a major factor that influences and shapes the gut microbiome . Kang et al. report that diet and exercise both cause shifts in the gut microbiome but that these changes are orthogonal . However, some of the studies above reported that dietary factors influenced the gut microbiota independently of, or in combination with, exercise. Dietary factors found in the studies presented here to associate with gut microbiome differences or changes include dairy products , light-colored vegetables , seaweed , rice , cereals , sucrose , fiber , protein intake , fat intake , and total food intake . Some differences or changes in the gut microbiota that seem to be associated with exercise may therefore be due to differences or changes in dietary intake, especially plants and carbohydrates, rather than exercise itself. There is therefore a need for studies investigating the link between the gut microbiome and exercise that control and standardize the dietary intake of participants.

Figure 3. In studies investigating the effect of exercise on the gut microbiome, confounding dietary factors include dairy, light-colored vegetables, seaweed, rice, cereals, sucrose, fiber, protein intake, fat intake, and total food intake.

Effects of Supplements and Dietary Patterns on the Gut Microbiome

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Future Areas Of Research

The microbiome is a living dynamic environment where the relative abundance of species may fluctuate daily, weekly, and monthly depending on diet, medication, exercise, and a host of other environmental exposures. However, scientists are still in the early stages of understanding the microbiomes broad role in health and the extent of problems that can occur from an interruption in the normal interactions between the microbiome and its host.

Some current research topics:

  • How the microbiome and their metabolites influence human health and disease.
  • What factors influence the framework and balance of ones microbiome.
  • The development of probiotics as a functional food and addressing regulatory issues.

Specific areas of interest:

  • Factors that affect the microbiome of pregnant women, infants, and the pediatric population.
  • Manipulating microbes to resist disease and respond better to treatments.
  • Differences in the microbiome between healthy individuals and those with chronic disease such as diabetes, gastrointestinal diseases, obesity, cancers, and cardiovascular disease.
  • Developing diagnostic biomarkers from the microbiome to identify diseases before they develop.
  • Alteration of the microbiome through transplantation of microbes between individuals .

How Does Food Impact Your Gut Microbiome

Microbiome  Probiotics House

Research has shown that the foods you eat have a major influence on your gut microbiome.

A typical Western diet which is high in sugar, fats, and ultra-processed foods and low in fiber can be detrimental to the microbial diversity in the gut.

One study found that mice that received a diet low in fiber for 4 weeks saw a reduction in the levels of 60% of the microbial species in their gut. When the scientists kept feeding the mice this diet, the loss of microbial diversity became permanent within four generations.

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Why Is Gut Microbiota Important

  • Gut microbiota plays an important role in our lives and in the way our bodies function.
  • The composition of gut microbiota is unique to each individual, just like our fingerprints.
  • Our gut microbiota contains tens of trillions of bacteria ten times more cells than in our body.
  • There are more than 3 millions microbial genes in our gut microbiota 150 times more genes than in the human genome.
  • Microbiota, in total, can weigh up to 2 kg.
  • More than 1,000 different known bacterial species can be found in human gut microbiota, but only 150 to 170 predominate in any given subject.

A Review Of The Role Of The Gut Microbiome In Personalized Sports Nutrition

  • Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA, United States

The gut microbiome is a key factor in determining inter-individual variability in response to diet. Thus, far, research in this area has focused on metabolic health outcomes such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. However, understanding the role of the gut microbiome in determining response to diet may also lead to improved personalization of sports nutrition for athletic performance. The gut microbiome has been shown to modify the effect of both diet and exercise, making it relevant to the athlete’s pursuit of optimal performance. This area of research can benefit from recent developments in the general field of personalized nutrition and has the potential to expand our knowledge of the nexus between the gut microbiome, lifestyle, and individual physiology.

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The Diverse Roles Of Our Gut Microbiota

Our gut microbiota help us digest food, produce chemicals that improve the health of the cells that form the gut barrier, and directly regulate the immune system, and they can even influence brain health by producing neuroactive chemicals that are absorbed into the bloodstream and travel to the brain. A healthy diversity of the right kinds of microorganisms in the gut is one of the most fundamental aspects of good health.

Our gut bacteria also directly control the integrity of the gut barrier by regulating important tight junction proteins between the gut epithelial cells ). These effects arent limited to the gut either: recent studies have shown that our gut bacteria can regulate the permeability of epithelial barriers elsewhere in the body , including the blood-brain barrier. Yes, our gut bacteria control how leaky the blood-brain barrier is, again through regulating important tight junction proteins . Theres also an indirect effect on gut barrier integrity via modulation of serotonin and Toll-like receptors which are important for antigen presentation by dendritic cells and macrophages to the adaptive immune system.

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The Gut Microbiome May Affect Mental Health

Why is the gut microbiome important for our health?

These bacteria are like other living things. They have genes and even enzymes that can interact with different parts of the body, such as the brain.

The notion that it can affect mental health has been controversial, but a population-level study may change that. The research suggested some of these microbes may produce neuroactive compounds, and they may have a direct association with depression.

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Gastrointestinal Associated Comorbidities Intestinal Inflammation And Tryptophan Metabolism In Bd

Gastrointestinal pathologies are long recognized as common comorbidities in BD and other psychological illness, supporting the theory that GI pathology and psychological illness are interrelated. While, depending on the diagnostic criteria used, irritable bowel syndrome is estimated to affect about 11% of the general population . In contrast, rates of comorbidity with psychiatric disorders range from 54 to 94% in those seeking treatment for IBS . A meta-analysis comprised of 177,117 IBS patients and 192,092 healthy controls showed that the prevalence of BD specifically was significantly increased in the IBS population compared to healthy volunteers .

Patients with IBS also exhibit differences in brain morphology when compared to healthy volunteers . A recent study of IBS patients clustered the gut microbial communities into 2 different subtypes either IBS participants exhibited a healthy control-like microbiome despite concomitant GI symptoms or participants exhibited a distinct microbial structure from healthy control subjects . Participants exhibiting the distinct IBS1 microbial community subtype were not only enriched for individuals with early life trauma experiences but also showed correlated brain structural alterations that were associated with their microbiome community structure.

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

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Preterm Birth And Neurodevelopmental Trajectories

Despite technology-enabled increases in the survival of extremely preterm infants in the United States, cognitive outcomes in these individuals are often severely impaired . Preterm babies born into low-SES families and/or minoritized populations often have poorer cognitive outcomes . While a number of factors, including access to early life education , likely contribute to these patterns, variation in inflammatory markers in infant serum is a key area of interest .

When Does Gut Microbiota Start Being Made

The Microbiome: How it is Important in Health and Disease

The development of gut microbiota starts at birth.

Sterile inside the uterus, the newborns digestive tract is quickly colonised by microorganisms from the mother , the environment in which the delivery takes place, the air, etc.

From the third day, the composition of the intestinal flora is directly dependent on how the infant is fed: breastfed babies gut microbiota, for example, is mainly dominated by Bifidobacteria, compared to babies nourished with infant formulas.

Scientists consider that by the age of 3, microbiota becomes stable and similar to that of adults, continuing its evolution at a stadier rate throughout life.

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The Gut Microbiome And Mental Health

Theres a reason why we get gut feelings, a flash of clarity or intuition that can sometimes be uncomfortable or a fight or flight response that seems to come from our gut. These feelings dont actually come from your gut, but the gut-brain axis makes it so that sometimes we register strong emotions as gastrointestinal distress, or that feeling of butterflies in your stomach.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the connection between the gut microbiome, mental health, and the gut-brain axis.

Increasing evidence has shown correlations between the state of the gut microbiome and mental health. If your microbiome has a healthy balance, with more good microbes than bad, youre more likely to be mentally well. If, on the other hand, you have dysbiosis and/or inflammation of the gut, your mental health is likely to be worse off.

If you have dysbiosis of the gut, probiotics can restore your microbiome to a normal, healthy balance, so they have a potential role in improving anxiety, depression, and overall mental health.

Not enough is known about probiotics to prescribe them as therapy for anxiety and depression, but recent research has shown that fermented foods have gastrointestinal and cognitive benefits. Also, there have been studies that specifically showed that probiotics effectively mitigated anxiety and depressive symptoms similar to conventional prescription medications. Its too soon to come to conclusions but these are exciting developments!

Why Is The Gut Microbiome Important To Health

The bacteria in our body play a lot of important roles, which means our microbiome has to take centre stage. When looking at how best to improve certain aspects such as gastrointestinal health, immune health or sleep patterns, the health of the gut microbiome can be one of the most effective areas to explore. Studies show that our gut bacteria are linked to our overall health and wellbeing. For example, individuals with certain digestive disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome , Diabetes and Crohns Disease have been found to have altered and usually less diverse bacteria profiles. While the precise mechanisms are yet to be identified by science, this confirms that there is a link to be found, and more to be uncovered! Not only that, our bacteria can also influence our mood and cognition! This happens via the gut-brain axis, where the gut can send signals to the brain and vice versa. If youve ever wondered why your emotions such as stress and anxiety seem to be so closely linked to your gut, that could be why. Plus, this communication with the brain is why your gut bacteria is thought to influence sleep health, too. If youre struggling to get a good nights rest, your gut health could hold the key. Its a common misconception that our gut bacteria simply help to break down food theyre actually responsible for a lot more.

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What Does A Healthy Gut Microbiome Look Like

Diversity is considered the number one hallmark of a healthy gut microbiome.

When the microbiota of people living in Western cultures were analyzed in comparison with those of people living in rural settings who had hunter-gatherer lifestyles and with those of wild primates like chimpanzees, Western-culture gut microbiota were found to be significantly lacking in both richness and biodiversity. This is directly attributable to diets high in industrially processed foods , which dont supply enough nutrition for our microbiota to thrive. Interestingly, there is even less diversity of gut bacteria in obese people than in lean people: more food does not equal more nutrition, and the worse our diet, the more our gut microbiota suffer.

In the adult human gut, two phyla dominate: Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. These are present in every human gut, and much smaller proportions of the phyla Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria, Verrucomicrobia, and Fusobacteria can also be present. While there are literally thousands of species of bacteria belonging to each of these phyla , its useful to look at some of the broad strokes when it comes to this birds-eye look at the gut microbiom.

Beef Gelatin & A Healthy Microbiome


Gelatin is essentially a collagen derivativeformed from gelatine and tannic acid, and it has remarkable potential when it comes to overall gut health, gut mucus integrity, and of course – microbiota composition. Abundant dietary sources of gelatin include animal skin, bones, and cartilage which arent particularly favorite menu picks for many people. It is precisely due to the convenience of use and versatility it offers, as well as the amount of pure protein it contains, that all-natural Beef Gelatin is a favorable alternative among dietary sources of gelatin.

As a generous collagen protein source, when combined with vitamin C supplementation, gelatin has been found to boost collagen synthesis and promote the repair of tissues, especially in athletes, a study by G. Shaw and colleagues finds. Furthermore, collagen has been very much present in the skincare niche, as it has been proven to enhance facial skin elasticity and moisture, while significantly reducing the visible signs of aging, including wrinkling. Also, fat-free Gelatinhas been shown to exhibit strong anti-inflammatory properties, especially in cases of joint disorders such as osteoarthritis. In addition, supplementing with all-natural Beef Gelatin as a rich source of pure collagen has been linked to improvement in bone structure, sleep quality, as well as the appearance and overall health of nails and hair.

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Good Gut Health Keeps You From Getting Sick

Essentially every animal on Earth is a swarming mass of bacteria.

A recent research experiment raised mice in sealed chambers that separated them from the outside world and ensured the mice grew up without microbial contact. Because they grew up without microbes, their guts failed to develop properly. They had less surface area for absorbing nutrients, leaky walls, and slow renewal rates. Compared with microbial mice, the isolated mice had weaker bones, compromised immune systems, and were depressed. The issues plagued by mice in germ-free environments show just how important the microbiome is.

Too often, we see microbes as unwanted harbingers of disease we must avoid at all costs.

This stereotype began with the Black Death, which wreaked havoc through Europe in the late Middle Ages. As people started to move into cities, poor sanitation, rodents, and bad bugs came in and spread disease like wildfire, killing one-third of the human population. People soon figured out that plumbing and clean water can help ward off disease, but in the intervening centuries, public health and sanitation have gone overboardkilling the good bacteria with the bad.

In reality, most microbes dont make us sick. At worst, theyre passengers for disease. At best, theyre invaluable parts of our bodieshelping us digest food, educate our immune systems, protect us from disease, and maintain health.

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