What is the microbiome?


Kimchi Bowl

Our bodies contain trillions upon trillions of bacteria which are known collectively as the microbiome, and your microbiome is as unique as your fingerprints. Every inch of your gastrointestinal tract, from mouth to colon, contains many different microorganisms, with the large intestine home to the largest population of these bacteria - many times more bacteria here than there are human cells in the body.

The microbiome wasn’t officially ‘discovered’ until the 1990s, and yet it is thought to be one of the most crucial factors of human health, having a significant effect on the immune system and autoimmune diseases, skin health, mental wellbeing, metabolism and bodyweight. 

There are increasing numbers of studies that strongly suggest a rich, diverse microbiome can be linked to a reduced risk of allergies, illness and obesity, and yet awareness of these associations is still quite low. 

Here are ten interesting things about the amazing microbiome:


Brined Purple Carrots


  1. There are 300-1000 different species of bacteria in your gut

  2. ...and collectively these bacteria can weigh up to three whole kilos

  3. Your microbiome impacts how you process food and how much nutritional value your body can unlock and absorb from its food. You can eat an identical plate of food to someone else, and yet absorb different amounts of macro and micronutrients, which is why there are increasing medical studies that suggest a link between an underperforming gut and obesity.

  4. Probiotics are products with live organisms that contribute to your own microbiota population

  5. ...while prebiotics are are a type of indigestible dietary fibre, that feed and fuel your gut bacteria. 

  6. Upwards of 70% of your immune system is in your intestinal tract

  7. ...and up to 90% of your ‘happy hormone’ serotonin is created in your gut, as well as dopamine and gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA, needed for regulation of the nervous system) ......no wonder it’s worth keeping your gut happy!

  8. Dr Tim Spector, one of the world’s leading researchers in the area of gut health, likens a healthy microbiome to a healthy garden; well nourished, receiving plenty of water, and filled with many types of different plants. He - and many other specialists - recommends a diverse, plant-rich diet that includes plenty of fermented foods.

  9. The gut has its own quasi-autonomous nervous system (sometimes referred to as the ‘gut brain’) which is called the enteric nervous system, which controls elements of motor functions and blood flow, as well as immune and hormonal responses. 

  10. The microbiome begins at birth; babies pass through the birth canal receiving a mighty dose of the mother’s healthy bacteria. Babies born through C-Section do not get the same boost, but their microbiomes can grow with close bodily contact and breastfeeding.


Previous post Next post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published