Our gut bacteria are all the rage in today's science and medical literature. And it's no wonder, since we now know that they regulate so much of our body's daily functioning. The microbiome is what we call the collective genome of all the bacteria, viruses, and yeast that live in and on our bodies. The microbiota is the name for the ecological community of microorganisms that reside in us, and it's something you might want to know about since they outnumber your human cells ten to one!
Each person can vary quite dramatically in the types of bacteria that live in their large intestine, but for the most part a healthy person has a huge diversity of friendly bacteria mixed with a little yeast, some unfriendly bacteria, and viruses. You can think of it like a village, where the friendly bacteria predominate, but the unfriendly bacteria, yeast, and viruses live there too. Each friendly bacteria has a job and does it well.
When the village is running smoothly, the friendly bacteria assist our body in many different ways. They help to break down the food we eat so we can digest it. They help in the absorption of some minerals. Some of our crucial vitamins like B vitamins and K2 are actually made by the friendly bacteria, as well as other compounds which directly feed the intestinal cells and keeps them healthy.
This village also trains and regulates our immune system, since over 70% of our immune system is in and around the intestines. It shapes our body's ability to recognize what is safe and what should be destroyed. Certain friendly bacteria reduce the inflammation response, which is good because too much inflammation in your intestines leads to destruction of the tissue.
A healthy microbiome also leads to a happy person, overall. The friendly bacteria produce over 90% of your body's serotonin. This neurotransmitter keeps your digestion regular and your brain happy. There is a direct connection between the brain and the intestines. Our gut is truly our second brain, and they are in constant communication with each other. So trust your gut next time it tells you something!
The microbiome is truly an amazing yet under-appreciated part of our body. In the next few blogs, I will help you learn more about how to take care of your microbiome, and what can happen when it becomes out of balance.
Dr. Melissa DeForest: I am a Naturopathic Doctor who specializes in digestive disorders. My goal is to educate, inspire, and empower others to lead a life they love.
Disclaimer: All information presented here is for educational purposes only, and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise, supplement, or diet routine.