Your body contains trillions of micro-organisms, including beneficial bacteria, which make up what is called your microbiome.
Many of these micro-organisms are extremely important for your immune system, heart, weight, everyday stress levels, and many other aspects of good health.
In this blog article we will explain why it’s so important for your body to understand what the microbiome is and why it’s important to support good health.
What Is Gut Microbiome
The microscopic living things in your gut and intestines are referred to as microorganisms, or microbes, for short.
Most of the microbes in your intestines are found in a “pocket” of your large intestine called the cecum, and they are referred to as the gut microbiome.
Although many different types of microbes live inside you, bacteria is the most studied.
In fact, there are more bacterial cells in your body than human cells. There are roughly 40 trillion bacterial cells in your body and only 30 trillion human cells. That means you are more bacteria than human.
What’s even more crazy is there are up to 1,000 species of bacteria in the human gut microbiome, and each of them plays a different role in your body. Most of them are extremely important for your health.
Consequently, these microbes may weigh as much as 2-5 pounds, which is roughly the weight of a human brain. Together, they will function as an extra organ in your body and play a huge role in supporting your good health.
How Does Microbiome Affect Your Body?
Microbes have learned to play very important roles in the human body. In fact, without the gut microbiome, it would be very difficult to survive.
The gut microbiome begins to affect your body the moment you are born.
When you are first exposed to microbes when you pass through your mother’s birth canal. However, new evidence suggest that babies may come in contact with some microbes while inside the womb.
As you grow, your gut microbiome begins to diversify, meaning it starts to contain many different types of microbial species. Higher microbiome diversity is considered important for your health.
As your microbiome grows, it affects your body in several ways, including:
- Helping control brain health: Research suggests that the gut microbiome may also the health of the central nervous system, which controls brain function.
- Digesting fiber: Certain bacteria digest fiber, producing short-chain fatty acids, which are important for gut health. Fiber may help curb appetite and thus prevent unwanted weight gain, maintain healthy blood sugar levels already in a normal range, promote heart and colon health.
- Helping control your immune system: The gut microbiome also helps to maintain a healthy immune system. By communicating with immune cells, the gut microbiome can support your body’s normal immune response.
Therefore, there are a number of different ways in which the gut microbiome can affect key body functions and help you maintain good health.
It Maintains Your Gut Health
The microbiome can affect your gut health, playing a critical role in maintaining the health of the bowel and intestines.
Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome can reduce the occasional bloating, cramps and abdominal discomfort that some people experience due to gut microbes producing a lot of gas and other chemicals.
How Can You Maintain a Healthy Gut Microbiome?
There are many different ways maintain the health of your gut microbiome. Below are some options to help improve your gut.
- Eat a diverse range of foods: This can lead to a more diverse microbiome, which is an indicator of good gut health. IN particular, legumes, beans and fruit contain lots of fiber and can promote the growth of beneficial Bifidobacteria.
- Eat Fermented Foods: Fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut and kefir all contain beneficial bacteria, mainly Lactobacilli, which can help maintain a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
- Limit your intake of artificial sweeteners: There is some evidence that suggests artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, might affect the gut microbiome and cause spikes in glucose levels after meals.
- Eat prebiotic foods: Prebiotics are a type of fiber that stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria. Prebiotic-rich foods include artichokes, bananas, asparagus, oats, and apples.
- Eat whole grains: Whole grains contain lots of fiber and beneficial carbs which are digested by gut bacteria to benefit weight, reduce the risk of some cancers, help maintain normal blood sugar levels already in a healthy range, and help promote overall good health.
- Take a probiotic supplement: Probiotics are live bacteria that can help maintain a beneficial balance of good bacteria in the gut. They do this by “reseeding” the gut microbiome with beneficial microbes.
- Take antibiotics only when necessary: Antibiotics kill many bad and good bacteria in the gut microbiome, possibly contributing to weight gain and antibiotic resistance. Thus, only take antibiotics when medically necessary.
The Bottom Line
Your gut microbiome is made up of trillions of micro-organisms.
The gut microbiome plays a major role in maintaining your good health by helping control digestion and benefiting your immune system and many other aspects of your health.