The gut microbiome, sometimes referred to as the human microbiome, is a vitally important colony of bacteria, fungus and viruses that inhabit our digestive track. More specifically, our microbiome resides in our large intestine, and is responsible for a multitude of beneficial activities.
The understanding of the gut microbiome is evolving at a great pace. Many studies are being conducted, and scientific papers are being published.
This accelerated process is necessary, due to the vital importance of our gut microbiome for our health, and because every new discovery replaces the old notion that bacteria, viruses and yeasts are something to be afraid of.
The truth of the matter is, that we need bacteria, viruses and yeasts for our survival.
This article explains why the microbiome is so vital for our health, and some of the ways in which it benefits us.
The microbes in our gut are commonly referred to as:
- Friendly flora
- Good bacteria
- Gut Microbiota
- Gut flora
- Gastrointestinal flora
However, most of the terms used to describe the microbiome tend to exclusively refer to bacterial microbes. This is because it was initially thought that the microbiome was exclusively made up of good bacteria, and that any incidence of fungal microbes, or yeasts, and viral microbes, were unhealthy, and essentially an infection.
Those spearheading the research into the microbiome, are now fully conscious of the fact that certain fungal microbes and viruses are as equally beneficial as the friendly bacteria that reside in our gut.
Some even refer to the vitally important viruses within the microbiome as a ‘virome’.
Whilst more research is necessary for us to fully understand the numerous beneficial functions of the microbiome, one fact is already very clear:
We need to change our outlook when it comes to bacteria, viruses and yeasts, and stop viewing them as the enemy! A more balanced and nuanced outlook is crucial!
Yes, there are pathogenic bacteria, viruses and yeasts, which can make us unwell. But, it is actually the symbiotic ‘good’ bacteria, viruses and yeasts, that our bodies rely upon for maintaining our health, which defend us from the pathogenic forms of bacteria, fungus and viruses. Without them, we have very little defence against pathogens.
Tragically, we have been indiscriminately destroying microbes within our bodies for decades, with the use of antibiotics and hand sanitisers and soaps etc.
The use of these products, and others, needs to stop, if we are to restore our health and vitality.
Microbiome Or Holobiome?
Steven R Gundry, a former cardiac surgeon and cardiac surgery researcher, who runs an experimental clinic investigating the impact of diet on health, refers to the microbiome as the holobiome. This is because the friendly flora we rely upon, as part of our immune system, are more broadly needed, beyond the gut, to protect us from pathogens.
Essentially, this means that the cultures, which exist in our gut, can be found in our oesophagus all the way down to our alimentary canal… They also coat the outside of our body.
The fact that these microbes are distributed in such a diverse way within the body, and on the skin, has led Steven R Gundry to refer to the microbiome as a holobiome. The term holobiome simply means that the biome exists within, and on, the whole body. Holo = whole.
Microbiome Key Facts
- The microbes in our body outnumber human cells by 10:1
- Our microbiome constitutes c. 80% of our immunity.
- We inherit our microbiome from our mothers at birth. The first inoculation is via the birth canal. Secondary inoculation is via breast milk. *Caesarian births lead to a compromised development of infant’s microbiome. The same is true if an infant is not breastfed.
- We continue to develop our microbiome throughout our lives, depending on our exposures
- Everyone’s microbiome is different, depending on exposures to good and bad microbes.
- The digestion of nutrients from our food would be impossible without it.
- Our microbiome also directly affects our emotional and mental health, as well as the quality of our sleep.
- As we repair and restore whilst sleeping, the role our microbiome plays is vitally important.
- Even small differences in our microbiome can have a big impact on our genetic expression. [Genes are switched on and off depending on our activities and exposures. This is called epigenetics.]
- Antibiotics can decimate our microbiome.
- Sugar can destroy our microbiome.
- Toxic chemical exposures can also decimate our microbiome.
- Research shows that wireless technologies may also be deeply detrimental to our microbiome.1
- Sadly, many of us have a compromised microbiome.
The microbiome is vital for:
- The digestion of our food.
- Regulation of our immune system, protecting us against disease.
- Producing vitamins and nutrients.
- Proper growth and development.
The probiotics within our microbiome produce a number of vitamins. Bacteria such as Bifidobacterium can generate vitamins such as; vitamin K, vitamin B12, Biotin, Folate, Thiamine and Pyroxidine, aka vitamin B6.
The human microbiome comprises bacteria, archaea, viruses, and eukaryotes which reside within and outside our bodies. These organisms impact human physiology, both in health and in disease, contributing to the enhancement or impairment of metabolic and immune functions. Micro-organisms colonise various sites on and in the human body, where they adapt to specific features of each niche… An alteration in the intestinal microbial community plays a major role in human health and disease pathogenesis. These alterations result from lifestyle and the presence of an underlying disease. Dysbiosis increases host susceptibility to infection, and the nature of which depends on the anatomical site involved.4
Many diseases can arise from a dysfunctional microbiome, some of which are listed in the next section, entitled ‘The Microbiome & Digestion’.
The composition and activity of the gut microbiota codevelop with the host from birth and is subject to a complex interplay that depends on the host genome, nutrition, and life-style. The gut microbiota is involved in the regulation of multiple host metabolic pathways, giving rise to interactive host-microbiota metabolic, signalling, and immune-inflammatory axes that physiologically connect the gut, liver, muscle, and brain.2
The Microbiome & Digestion
Our microbiome creates enzymes that are needed to metabolise cholesterol and bile acid.
It also enables us to digest complex plant polysaccharides, which from the fibre in fruits and vegetables, as well as grains. This fibre would be indigestible if it weren’t for the microbiome.
Poor digestive microbial health has been linked to the following conditions:
- Digestive diseases: IBS + IBD etc.
- Mental & emotional health issues
- Cardiovascular disease
- Sleep disorders
- Autoimmune conditions
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Inflammatory conditions
- Systematic infections resulting from bacterial translocation
*This list is not exhaustive! There are many alternative health practitioners, and some conventional, who are increasingly understanding that much of our health depends on the health of our microbiome.
I urge you to do further research to more fully understand the importance of a healthy microbiome. Reading the fouth scientific study in the list of ‘Scientific Research Sources’ for this article, liste below, would be a good place to start: The Human Microbiome and Its Impacts on Health
Prebiotics are what feed the probiotics, or friendly flora, within our gut, and on our skin.
Certain foods are excellent prebiotics, such as garlic, leeks and onions, asparagus, and inulin rich foods, found in tubors, such as yams and yacon. Acacia gum is considered to be the best prebiotic by certain experts.
Our friendly flora need to be fed well to maintain a healthy microbial colony size.
We poop out a large amount of friendly flora, so promoting recolonisation and reproduction is vital.
It has been suggested that a prebiotic index might offer greater utility for evaluating the efficacy of different prebiotics. The prebiotic concept also encompasses selective improvements in metabolic activity of the microbiota but this has been given little attention to date. Changes in concentration patterns of key beneficial microbial metabolites such as butyrate should be integrated into prebiotic index models… All established prebiotics to date are carbohydrates, specifically inulin type fructans and GOS. However, other dietary carbohydrates also qualify as prebiotics, for instance resistant starch, (RS)… The inter-individual variability in the microbial response to RS suggests successful dietary interventions with RS need to be personalised. Dietary constituents other than carbohydrates conceivably could function as prebiotics. For instance, cocoa flavonols can increase the relative abundance of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus at the expense of potentially pathogenic bacteria, notably the C. histolyticum group.3
Microbiome & Sleep & Circadian Rhythm Connection
There is a direct relationship between the health of our microbiome, the way we sleep and how well our circadian rhythm is functioning.
Disturbances in the gut–brain barrier play an essential role in the developmentPDF Download: Sleep and microbiome in psychiatric diseases
of mental disorders. There is considerable evidence showing that the gut microbiome not only affects digestive, metabolic and immune functions of the host but also regulates host sleep and mental states through the microbiota–gut–brain axis. The present review summarizes the role of the gut microbiome in the context of circadian rhythms, nutrition and sleep in psychiatric disorders…
Learn more about sleep and the relationship it has with the microbiome. Also, discover how our circadian rhythm, which promotes energy use and restful sleep, is also vitally important in relation to the microbiome.
Microbiome & Skin Health
A poor functioning microbiome often makes itself evident via the skin. Conditions such as acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, Reynaud’s, etc, all suggest poor gut health, and disturbances in the ‘holobiome’.
Oligosaccharides present in breast milk promote the growth of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which dominate the infant gut, and this can strengthen or promote development of the immune system and may help prevent conditions such as eczema and asthma.3
If you suffer from any form of skin condition, it will likely respond well to improving digestive health, and eliminating skin and hair products which are known to interfere with the friendly flora that live on our skin.
Reducing, or better still, eliminating synthetic chemicals from your skincare and haorcare products would be a great place to start.
Also, improving your digestive health is a must!
Wild As The Wind Products For Digestive Health
The following may be beneficial…
Scientific Research Sources:
- An impact of Wi-Fi irradiation on the gut microbiome of rats – https://emmind.net/openpapers_repos/Applied_Fields-Hazads/Microwave_Effects/Wi-Fi/2023_An_impact_of_Wi-Fi_irradiation_on_the_gut_microbiome_of_rats.pdf
- Host-gut microbiota metabolic interactions – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22674330/
- The Impact of Diet and Lifestyle on Gut Microbiota and Human Health – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4303825/#B11-nutrients-07-00017
- The Human Microbiome and Its Impacts on Health – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7306068/
- What is the Microbiome and How Does it Impact Our Health? – https://drjockers.com/microbiome/