The microbiome is defined as the collection of microbes or microorganisms inhabiting an environment. They create a sort of “mini-ecosystem” The human microbiome consists of communities of symbiotic, pathogenic, and commensal bacteria (alongside fungi and viruses) that reside in the human body. (1)
The communities exist in distinctive, complementary blends. They live in everything including the skin, genitals, mouths and eyes, and the intestines. The groups of bacteria in varied body regions are variously called microbiota. (2)
According to researchers, there are about 100 trillion bacteria that comprise the microbiome in your body. For each cell in humans, there are 10 microbial cells that live on or inside the body. They help humans in performing life-sustaining functions which would not have been possible to perform without their help.
If a baby is delivered via a vaginal birth, he/she is coated with his mother’s microbes as the baby passed through the birth canal. Even more, microbes were passed along when the baby was breastfed, as breast milk has many properties that nurture the gut.
Early on, family, dietary and environmental exposures contributed to a person’s microbiome in ways that have and will persist to influence his health in his lifetime. Activities that you conduct daily like eating, brushing your teeth, kissing someone or managing a family pet affect your microbiome.
What Does the Gut Microbiome Affect?
Here is a list of things that your gut microbiome affects: (3)
- Developmental Disability: Establishing normal gut flora in a baby in the first few weeks after birth is essential to the immune system of the child. Infants with abnormal gut flora are seen to have compromised immune systems. They are much prone to develop autism, ADHD, and learning disabilities. It happens especially if they are vaccinated while their gut flora is imbalanced.
- Behavior: In a study that was published in Neurogastroenterology and Motility, it was found that mice that lack gut bacteria act differently as compared to normal mice. The altered behavior in the mice was interpreted as “high-risk” and it was seen that their brain underwent neurochemical changes. It is generally known that a person’s gut acts as his second brain. It produces more of the neurotransmitter serotonin that can have a positive influence on the person’s mood than his brain does. (4)
- Diabetes: In a study conducted by Danish researchers, it was found that the population of bacteria in diabetic guts differs from those with no diabetics. As per the researchers, Type 2 diabetes in a person is associated with compositional changes in intestinal microbiota. It highlights the connection between metabolic diseases and the population of bacteria in the gut. (5)
- Gene expression: A person’s gut health is known to be an extremely powerful variable of epigenetics. It is a cutting-edge field of medicine that highlights the function your lifestyle plays with respect to genetic expression.
As per ScienceDaily, new research is aiding to find out the workings of how the gut microbiome communicates with the cells of its host to switch genes on and off. The study brings to light how the metabolites produced by the bacteria in the stomach communicate chemically with cells. It communicates with cells far beyond the colon, to dictate gene expression and health in its host.
- Obesity: Since probiotics may aid in fighting obesity, you should consider optimizing your gut flora in case you’re struggling to lose weight. Researchers say that a person’s gut bacteria impact what he is able to extract from his food, both in terms of the number of calories absorbed and the nutrients taken in. It can also play a major role in determining how much food a person wants to eat.
The microbiome is considered the second brain. It is essential to maintain a healthy microbiome for your overall health goals.