The gut microbiome is a trendy phrase these days, but what is it and why is it important? Simply put, the gut microbiome consists of all the bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa found in the gastrointestial tract. In a healthy person, theses "bugs" all cooperate with your body and are mostly found in the small and large intestine. There are over 1000 known bugs in our gut, and the microbiome in total can weigh up to 2kg! When things go awry, pathogenic or "bad" bacteria that normally live in your intestines can take hold and cause a negative imbalance or dysbiosis in the body.
The gut microbiome has been studied with respect to effecting immune function, mood, digestion & absorption, production of Vitamin K & B12. It's effected by what you eat, stress levels, supplements & pharmaceuticals, your age, the way you were born (c-section vs vaginal birth), and if you were breast or formula fed.
What are some things can you do to alter your microbiome in a good way?
- consume fermented foods - kimchi, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut
- eat a high fibre diet - Fibre breaks down into short chain fatty acids, which in turn lowers the pH of the colon, which hinders the growth of some harmful bacteria. Fibre can also feed the good bacteria which gives them the energy to reproduce.
- participate in regular physical exercise
- avoid unnecessary antibiotics use
- supplement with probiotics
I make my own kombucha at home - and here's a picture of one of my scoby's (it's like a hunk of bacteria & yeast that helps the fermentation process!).
Hopefully this gives you some background information for the next time you see a headline about the gut microbiome!