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What Is The Microbiome?

What Is The Human Microbiome?

All human beings have bacteria in and on their body. In fact, research has shown that the human body is composed of more bacteria than cells. A healthy human body is actually swarming with microorganisms inhabiting every nook and cranny on the body. It is in our gut, the gastrointestinal tract, that we can find the largest collection of microorganisms.

These microorganisms are a community and as such make up our gut microbiota. Combine the microbiota, the products it makes, and the entire environment it lives within and we have a microbiome. The human microbiome (all of our microbes' genes) can be considered a counterpart to the human genome (all of our genes). 


Every human being has a gut microbiota and the composition for each person is unique. Regardless of the composition, the microbiota has the same physiological functions with a direct impact on the health of the human body. Some of the functions are:
  • Helps the body to digest certain foods that the stomach and small intestine haven’t been able to digest 
  • Helps with the production of vitamins B and K
  • Helps the body combat other microorganisms that would others harm the gastrointestinal tract
  • Plays an important role in the immune system, primarily by performing as a barrier
  • A healthy and balanced gut microbiota is key to ensuring proper digestive functioning 


These are vital and important functions of the human body and the immune system. Some researchers have said that up to 90 percent of all diseases can be traced in some way back to the gut and health of the microbiome.

Poor gut health can contribute to many diseases and disorders like leaky gut syndrome, autoimmune disease, arthritis, dementia, heart disease, and cancer. Surprising to many is the fact that health, fertility, and longevity are reliant on the balance of organisms and bacteria living within the gut.

Every human being shapes their own microbiome, which in turn adapts to changes in their environment. For example, the foods that are eaten, sleeping patterns, the amount of bacteria the person is exposed to every day, and the level of stress the person lives with all help to establish the state of the gut microbiota.

Which brings us to the good news: you can affect your microbiome through diet, physical exercise, sleep, and stress management. Depending on the symptoms you are experiencing, your microbiome could need a minor adjustment or a major adjustment. Sometimes, just know that you really are in control of your gut health is enough to start you on the path to improving your gut health.

How Gut Bacteria Impacts Your Health

Most of us are aware that the bacteria in our gut plays an important role in digestion. When the stomach and small intestine are unable to digest certain foods we eat, gut microbes jump in to offer a helping hand, ensuring we get the nutrients we need.

In addition, gut bacteria are known to aid the production of certain vitamins like B and K and play a major role in immune function. This is leading researchers to study the impact that gut bacteria has on our health.

Research suggests that the gut bacteria in healthy people are different from those with certain diseases. Every human being has a gut microbiota (community of bacteria) that is unique. People who are sick may have too little or too much of a certain type of gut bacteria, or they may lack a variety of bacteria.

Scientists have begun to draw links between the following illnesses and the bacteria in your gut: Obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Your gut bacteria affects the body’s metabolism. They determine how many calories you get from food and what kinds of nutrients you receive. Too much gut bacteria can make you turn fiber into fatty acids. This can cause fat deposits in your liver, leading to something called metabolic syndrome – a condition that can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis: It’s believed that people with these conditions have lower levels of certain anti-inflammatory gut bacteria. The exact connection is unclear, but researchers think that some bacteria may make your body attack your intestines and set the stage for these diseases.

Mental Health: According to the American Psychological Association (APA), gut bacteria produce an array of neurochemicals that the brain uses for the regulation of physiological and mental processes, including memory, learning, and mood. And, 95% of the body's supply of serotonin is produced by gut bacteria. Which means that gut bacteria have been associated with a number of mental health problems that include anxiety disorders and depression.

Knowing the effect that gut bacteria has on our mental and physical health, it’s good to know that there are some things you can do to have a healthy gut:

A healthy diet can encourage the presence of good gut bacteria. Consuming fermented foods - such as miso and sauerkraut - increases the level of fermenting bacteria in the gut. In addition, fruits and vegetables contain fibers and sugars that can boost the health of gut bacteria.

And, eating probiotic-rich foods and taking a daily probiotic supplement also help to put good bacteria into our bodies. Probiotic-rich foods include live-cultured yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, miso soup, apple cider vinegar, dark chocolate. 

The Connection Between Your Microbiome And Your Diet

You are what you eat. Well, it’s better stated as your gut health is dependent on what you eat. And your gut health has a direct impact on your physical and mental health.

A healthy human body has microorganisms inhabiting every nook and cranny on the body. It is in our gut, the gastrointestinal tract, that we can find the largest collection of microorganisms.

These microorganisms are a community and as such make up our gut microbiota. Combine the microbiota, the products it makes, and the entire environment it lives within and we have a microbiome. The human microbiome (all of our microbes' genes) can be considered a counterpart to the human genome (all of our genes).

Every human being has a gut microbiota (community of bacteria) that is unique. People who are sick may have too little or too much of a certain type of gut bacteria, or they may lack a variety of bacteria. This means you can affect the balance of your gut bacteria and it can be done through diet.

Knowing that diet is important is one thing, consciously eating foods that support good gut health is even more important. And, it’s not as difficult as you might think. Chances are good that you know that refined sugar is bad for your health, in a number of ways. Well, it’s also bad for your gut health.

There are good and bad types of gut bacteria that need your attention: Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, and they feed on prebiotics, which are plant-based fibers from whole foods like apples, onions, garlic, bananas, and oats. The bad gut bacteria love to eat sugar. When you eat refined sugar, these bad gut bacteria thrive and grow out of control, outworking the good bacteria. And the results are diseases and disorders like obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).

Then there is gluten. Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains like wheat, rye, spelt and barley, with wheat being the most common grain consumed. Researchers say the presence of certain gut bacteria may contribute to the development of celiac disease. Celiac disease is an immune disease in which a person is intolerant to gluten. 

Fermented foods can help provide balance to your gut bacteria. Foods like pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso soup, apple cider vinegar, and dark chocolate feed the good gut bacteria. Add these to your diet, while removing refined sugars and reducing gluten and you will be on your way to a healthy, happy balance of gut bacteria.