Part 1 - WHAT IS THE MICROBIOME AND WHY SHOULD YOU CARE ABOUT IT!?
HEALTH AND WELLNESS |

WHAT IS THE MICROBIOME AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT - PART 1

Fuel Dev

Copied URL to clipboard!

What is the microbiome? 

Even if you’re not working in the world of wellness, you’re probably still hearing the message that gut health is something you should care about. The word MICROBIOME is making headlines and being casually thrown around in small talk, yet MOST people (and dare I say, even some medical professionals) don’t know what it is, what it does, or the power it can have over our total health. Never fear, my curious friends, Health-Ade’s mission is to unlock the power of the gut – so let us break it down for you! 

Simply put (and what you may already know) is that the microbiome is the friendly community of bacteria and yeast that lives in your gut.1 What you probably didn’t know is that in a healthy gut there are somewhere between 300-500 different species of these organisms that make up over 2 million genes, which means the microbiome is VASTLY larger than our own human genome (like 10X bigger).1 The sheer size and outnumbering of these “critters” to our own cells is reason enough to give it pause and attention. Translation: Something this big has GOT to be important. 

When does the microbiome kick in?

What you probably also didn’t know is that by about 2.5 years old, our microbiome looks like it will as an adult (unless we take great effort to change it).1,4-6 For this reason a LOT of gut health scientists are encouraging us to focus on infancy (and even birth) as a priority. If a microbiome is healthy and strong by 3 years old, an individual’s health over the course of their life may be foundationally better. Conversely, if an infant’s microbiome is significantly altered, via antibiotics at birth (which are sometimes necessary), many studies show we need to do counter the effects of this in order to bring the gut back to “normal” and set this baby on a healthy path.1-4 If we don’t, unfortunately, it can wreak havoc in all kinds of ways like life-long allergies, inflammation, digestive disorders and sensitivities, arthritis and all kinds of diseases.2,3

Right now, there is still a big gap between where the science sits and what health care practitioners practice. When my baby was in the NICU and had to be on multiple antibiotics in his first week (for which I am extremely grateful, as this treatment was lifesaving for him), not one doctor recommended he take a probiotic or mentioned anything about his gut. LUCKILY, I knew a little about this (thank you nutrition school), and I found the research and infant probiotics like Evivo, which are literally proven to re-populate the infant gut with what appears to be the most important probiotic that triggers a “healthy gut” for life.3-5 So, there’s work to do. 

Wait, is there hope for my microbiome?

There is literally NOTHING we can do at this point about how our guts looked when we only had eyes for milk, mama, and dada.  If you were fortunate enough to have a healthy gut through infancy, you may be one of the lucky ones whose “default” microbiome isn’t something you need to worry about every day. But for those of us that had a different start to life: we CAN change our microbiome as adults! It just takes a little work (Psssst - it’s not just about probiotics). 

I will do a future post on how you know if your own gut microbiome is healthy (and how you can alter it), but today I’m just trying to explain what the microbiome is, which I think I’ve done. To recap – the microbiome is the friendly culture of bacteria and yeast that live in our gut, it gets its “form” by the time we turn 3, and it’s really, REALLY big. 

OK I know what the microbiome is. But why do I care?

The microbiome has gotten the nickname “the forgotten organ” among experts.1,7 That’s kinda funny, because it’s not an organ at all – it’s an external group of critters that lives IN us.

The microbiome is called an organ because its impact is SO HUGE in the end, it might as well be one.  It’s called “forgotten” because most people and health care practitioners don’t know nearly enough about it.  The truth is, the microbiome is SO ESSENTIAL to so many of our body’s functions that it shouldn’t be last on the list or forgotten at all. It should be the priority if you care about sleep, energy, blood sugar, immunity, inflammation, or your mood.2,6,7 If you don’t care about that stuff, you can leave now and I’m sorry to have wasted your time

There is SO MUCH science and evidence on what the microbiome does it can be overwhelming to try to deconstruct and understand. We know for sure that it plays a major role (even the top driver in many cases) in our energy and happiness levels, our metabolism and blood sugar regulation, how we fight a cold or infection, and all things inflammation (hello, that’s like every disease in America).2,6 Of course, it’s also tied to our digestion. It’s involved with practically everything you care about in your health!

What does the microbiome do?

The microbiome plays a role in 4 main tasks, each of which I’ll dig deeper into in my next posts. The microbiome impacts energy, mood, sleep, digestion, metabolism, inflammation and immunity by:1-3,6,7

  • Mining calories and nutrients from food you alone cannot digest or metabolize.
  • Producing very important and impactful compounds that your body depends on for function.
  • Breaking down things you don’t want or need.
  • Keeping “bad” pathogens away.

To summarize – it’s like a really big deal, and trust us, you care!

Alright. All that is to say that this is the microbiome and why it matters. Hopefully you care now! Read on to dig in deeper.

Love you lots, and as always, be yourself, and FOLLOW YOUR GUT!

  • Daina

**

Sources:

  1. Eamonn M. M. Quigley, MD, FRCP, FACP, FACG, FRCPI, et al. Gut Bacteria in Health and Disease. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2013 Sep; 9(9): 560–569.
  2. Guarner F, Malagelada JR. Gut flora in health and disease. Lancet. 2003;361(9356):512–519.
  3. Sekirov I, Russell SL, Antunes LC, Finlay BB. Gut microbiota in health and disease. Physiol Rev. 2010;90(3):859–904.
  4. Marques TM, Wall R, Ross RP, Fitzgerald GF, Ryan CA, Stanton C. Programming infant gut microbiota: influence of dietary and environmental factors. Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2010;21(2):149–156.
  5. Palmer C, Bik EM, DiGiulio DB, Relman DA, Brown PO. Development of the human infant intestinal microbiota. PLoS Biol. 2007;5(7):e177.
  6. Clemente JC, Ursell LK, Parfrey LW, Knight R. The impact of the gut micro-biota on human health: an integrative view. Cell. 2012;148(6):1258–1270.
  7. O’Hara AM, Shanahan F. The gut flora as a forgotten organ. EMBO Rep. 2006;7(7):688–693.

Thirsty for more knowledge?

ALCOHOL & THE GUT: THE WHAT, THE WHY, AND THE WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT.

health and wellness

December 28, 2021

IS ALCOHOL BAD FOR YOUR GUT?

A lot of us like to participate in “dry” January or a temporary fast from alcohol, and this trend...

Read more

PART 3: WHAT IS THE MICROBIOME AND WHY SHOULD YOU CARE!?

health and wellness

December 21, 2021

WHAT IS THE MICROBIOME AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT - PART 3

We’ve been digging deep into what the microbiome does, and last week we covered 2 of the 4 main r...

Read more

PART 2: WHAT IS THE MICROBIOME AND WHY SHOULD YOU CARE!?

health and wellness

December 14, 2021

WHAT IS THE MICROBIOME AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT - PART 2

Last week I introduced you to the microbiome. We learned that it is the friendly community of bac...

Read more