What Is Gut Microbiome and What Should You Know About It?
16 November 2022
Our body is full of millions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses collectively known as microbiomes. While a few bacteria are associated with diseases, others help you in building a healthy immune system, weight, heart, and other aspects of health.
This article explains the gut microbiome and how it is important for your health.
What Is the Gut Microbiome?
Fungi, bacteria, viruses, and other microscopic organisms are referred to as microorganisms or microbes. Millions and trillions of these microbes exist inside your intestine called the cecum and they are referred to as the gut microbiome.
Although many different kinds of microbes live inside your body. bacteria are the most studied. In fact, in our bodies, there are more bacterial cells than human cells — there are roughly around 40 trillion bacterial cells and only 30 trillion human cells in our bodies and although there are about 1,000 species of bacteria in the human gut microbiome, weighing a total of 2–5 pounds, roughly your brain’s weight, they function together as an organ in your body and play a huge role in maintaining your health.
The Diverse Role of Gut Microbiota Inside the Body
Our gut microbiota helps digest our food and produces chemicals that improve the health of the cells forming the gut barrier. They also regulate the immune system and even influence brain health by producing neuroactive chemicals. These neuroactive chemicals are then absorbed into the bloodstream and travel to the brain.
The gut microbe consists of enzymes that break down into certain types of starches, sugars, and fiber from foods so that we can digest and absorb their nutrients. Bacteria ferment fiber in our digestive tracts by producing a short chain of fatty acids called propionic acid, acetic acid, and butyric acid which are extremely beneficial energy sources that are responsible for regulating our metabolism.
Our gut microbiota also aids in the absorption of minerals, degrading minerals by complexing with an anti-nutrient called phytate, making those minerals ready for absorption.
Our gut bacteria also synthesize vitamins K and B in particular and play a key role in facilitating and observing dietary fatty acids, thereby increasing absorption of important fat-soluble vitamins like D, E, A, and K.
Gut bacteria also ferment proteins by producing branched-chain amino acids that are essential for muscle recovery and athletic performance.
Our gut microbiome also controls the integrity of the gut barrier by regulating the tight junctions between the gut epithelial cells.
How Does Gut Microbiome Affect Our Body?
The gut microbiome begins to affect our bodies the moment we are born. Babies are first exposed to microbes when they pass through the mother’s birth canal, however, new evidence suggests that babies may come in contact with the mother while they are still inside the mother’s womb.
As we grow, our gut microbiome begins to diversify, and the food we eat affects the diversity of our gut bacteria.
As the microbiome grows, it affects our body in several ways such as:
- Digesting fiber:
Bacteria help digest fiber and produce a short chain of fatty acids that are essential for gut health, while fiber helps to prevent weight gain, heart diseases, and diabetes and also reduces the risk of cancer.
- Digesting breast milk:
Some bacteria which grows inside babies’ intestines are called Bifidobacteria. They help digest healthy sugars in breast milk which are essential for a baby’s growth.
- Helps in controlling brain health
New research suggests that the gut microbiome also affects the central nervous system which is responsible for brain function.
- Controls immune system:
The gut microbiome controls how your body responds to your immune system by communicating with the immune cells.
- It Affects Your Gut Health
The gut microbiome also affects your gut health and many play an important role in intestinal diseases like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Certain bacteria like Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria that are found in yogurt and prebiotics seal gaps between intestinal cells and prevent leaky gut syndrome.
How can I Improve the Gut microbiome?
- Eat fermented foods.
- Eat a diverse range of foods.
- Limit intake of artificial sweeteners.
- Breastfeed for at least 6 months
- Eat whole grains.
- Eat prebiotic foods.
- Try a plant-based diet.
While you are on diet and consuming supplements to meet your nutritional needs, always consider choosing the cleanest source of supplements. Many supplements in the market contain artificial sweeteners and flavors that are harmful to your gut microbiome.
AIP protein powder from Autoimmune Health & Nutrition is the cleanest supply of AIP diet supplements sourced from grass-fed beef collagen. It contains no nasties such as GMO, artificial sweeteners and flavors, soy, dairy, sugar, or gluten. It has an organic superfood blend and is derived from bone-adhering meat to give you the highest amount of protein.