Meet your amazing microbiome…

A Doctor holding a sign about the Microbiome as if getting ready to lecture about the microbiome

You may have heard that we have good bugs and bad bugs in our digestive system. You may even have heard about probiotics. And about how antibiotics can mess with our digestive system by killing the good AND bad bugs. But do you REALLY know how the bugs that live in your gut or digestive system affect your brain (your emotions, thinking skills and concentration), skin, heart, joints and your other major organs?

We have a 'community' of microbes, also known as microorganisms, living in and on our bodies. The collective genomes of these microorganisms living in and on us is known as the human microbiome.

In the past 20 years, and especially in the past 5 years, the understanding of the human microbiome has exploded, thanks to the huge amount of research that has been going on behind the scenes as well as the development and popularisation of the Functional Medicine approach. In 2007, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) based in the US started a massive research project into the human microbial flora through the Human Microbiome Project (HMP). In 2014, the second phase of that project, called the Integrative Human Microbiome Project, was launched.

Before the HMP began in 2007, little was known about the bacteria that lived in us and on us. Even less was known about their role in human health and illness. Thankfully, due to the HMP, and a general increase in study and research on the human microbiome since 2007, we have a much clearer understanding of the role of the human microbiome on our health.

What are these critters growing in and on us? The HMP brought light to the fact that we don't just have bacteria living in and on us, but also a whole combination of organisms. Some of the organisms found to be part of the human microbiome are bacteria, fungi, yeasts, archaea (single cell organisms), Helminth parasites and viruses. And surprisingly, they don't all make us sick.

Where do they live on humans? These organisms form communities in our gut/digestive system (also known as the gastro-intestinal system), skin, genitalia (including the vaginal canal), mouth (oral system) and in our lungs and upper airways
(respiratory system).

What are they doing to me? Actually, they're generally being very helpful to us. When the microbiome is balanced and healthy, the good microbes can:

  • help babies digest the healthy sugars in their mum's breastmilk
  • break certain types of dietary fibres in our food
  • produce short chain fatty acids from the fibres we eat which then provide a source of energy for the cells lining our gut
  • reduce our risk of developing colon cancer
  • reduce or prevent inflammation in the gut by making specific short chain fatty acids
  • make 2 essential vitamins- vitamin K and vitamin B12
  • help maintain a healthy body weight
  • strengthen your immune system by communicating with the immune cells
  • maintain brain health by affecting the central nervous system and helping create important neurotransmitter chemicals
  • promote good heart health by influencing the production of "good" HDL cholesterol and triglycerides
  • control blood sugar levels

June 27th 2020 is the first official World Microbiome Day. If you'd like to learn more about the human microbiome, here are some links you may find useful:

https://worldmicrobiomeday.com/about/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gut-microbiome-and-health

 

If you'd like to find out if your microbiome is likely to be healthy or unhealthy and how it impacts YOUR health, contact me for a FREE, no obligation 30 minute Health Exploratory call today.

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