Your Microbiome is the Key to Overall Health
It’s really unbelievable that the tiny, little microorganisms living in our gastrointestinal tract can influence health outcomes like allergic tendencies, body weight, joint pain, energy, mood, etc. The microbiome and its implication on human health is one of the fastest growing areas in scientific research.
This blog will start with the basics and define the microbiome and the various factors that influence it. Future posts in this series will look at specific topics like: Gut Health and Depression; Gut Health and Obesity; and Gut Health and Pain. Of course, additional topics can always be requested!
What is the “Microbiome”?
=Collective term for the diverse ecosystem of bacteria, yeast, and fungi living in our GI tract.
“Microbiota” = bacteria
“Dysbiosis” = Unfavourable microbiome. There is either low growth of good, health-promoting bacteria, and/or increased growth of neutral, or even harmful bacteria.
1. We each have a unique microbiome varying in the type and number of bacterial species. This is largely influenced by genetics, early life factors, and lifestyle. (More on this in next blog.)
2. We have ~100 trillion bacteria in our GI tract. Based on cell number, we technically can be considered more bacteria than human.
3. Half the weight of a bowel movement is bacteria.
4. Most of the microbiota resides within the large intestine, with fewer residing in the stomach and small intestine.
5. Microbiota produce metabolites which can have a positive or negative effect on host (us!)
6. A diverse microbiome with lots of different species is associated with positive health outcomes.
7. Comprehensive stool analyses are available via stool cultures that provide a "report card" on your microbiome - growth of good bacteria, presence of inflammatory markers, markers of digestion, etc.
8. A microbiome is transgenerational ie. it gets passed on to your child in utero. By supporting your gut health now (as a woman), you can impact the health of your future children and grandchildren!
What Do They Actually Do For Us?
The interactions and specific role of each bacterial species is complex. Certain species are cons