Humans are the spaceship that 38 trillion bacteria, fungi and viruses use explore the world. In return they play a role is all aspects of health both good and bad. 70% of the immune system, 80% of neurotransmitters, and 99% of the building blocks of life are either made or influenced by the gut microbiome. If we look after the microbiome we look after ourselves.
The gut is the part of the body that interacts with our environment the most:
Every day a person breathes in around 1 million microorganisms. Touch a sponge and you interact with 120 million bacteria. Sounds like a lot. In comparison the average person consumes up to 1.3 trillion bacteria. 2 slices of bread contain 300 million bacteria alone (after being cooked). The need to manage these interactions means that the gut contains most of the immune machinery in the body (70-80% depending on how it is measured). This is not a one-way interaction and the microbiome plays an essential role in immune response.
The microbiome makes many of the molecules we need to survive:
Apart from oxygen in the air and sunlight to help produce vitamin D almost everything that our body needs to thrive comes from our food and is absorbed through the gut. Many of the nutrients the body needs do not come directly from food. The microbes in the body consume the food (fibre, antioxidants etc.) and then produce short chain fatty acids (SCFA) and active molecules that the body then absorbs for optimal health. Optimising the microbiome feeds the body.
The microbiome steers our metabolism.
Glucose homeostasis, insulin sensitivity and fat metabolism are all influenced by the gut microbiome. A UK study using identical twins has shown that body weight is, in part, determined by the gut microbiome. The researchers looked at the microbiome of identical twins where one was overweight/obese, and one was not. They found that the microbiome in the two was measurably different. The study shows that how we feed our microbiome was more important than our genetics.
The microbiome influences our moods:
The Gut-Brain axis is now well established. A large part of our nervous system is in the gut, and communication with the brain goes both ways. The microorganisms in our gut produce serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters so that they may modify our eating habits. By modifying the microbiome, we can help drive mental health in a positive direction.
The microbiome affects how medicines work:
Medicines do not work in isolation. All medicines make use of biochemical pathways that are part of the body’s natural function. As an example, it has been shown that cancer treatment success can be dependent on the gut microbiome. when taking medication, it is important to remember that the machinery used by the medication needs to be working at optimal efficiency to have the optimum result.
An optimised microbiome has a positive impact in 7 key areas:
- Help protect from infection and reduce severity disease.
- Improve absorption of food.
- Provide essential nutrients that optimise metabolism.
- Improve moods and mental acuity.
- Aid in injury repair.
- Aid the benefits of medications.
- Reduce the effects of ageing and keep us young.
For these reasons, the choice of a high quality, complex, broad spectrum prebiotic that promotes an optimal microbiome is a great way to improve our health and overall wellbeing.