The human microbiota contains bacteria, single-celled organisms (archaea), fungi, viruses, and other microbes. The difference between microbiota and microbiome involves how microbiota refers to the actual micro-organisms and viruses as previously mentioned. On the other hand, the microbiome refers to the genetic make-up of the microbiota. Although they are different, the terms microbiome and microbiota can be used interchangeably. Certain bacteria can be harmful, but some microbes are actually beneficial to our overall health. Here we will examine how important the microbiome, especially the gut microbiome, really is to our overall health. It is significant to note that I am not a doctor, but I have conducted extensive research on the microbiome topic.
Are all microbes the same?
No, not all microbes are the same. Different body parts, including the skin, gut, and vagina, all have different communities of microbes. Additionally, it is interesting to note that microbiomes are distinct among each person.
In particular, the gut microbiome has gained quite a bit of attention within research. The gut microbiome is often linked to certain diseases and conditions, such as autism, obesity, and anxiety. The gut microbiome can be linked with things like helping control your immune system, brain health, gut health, heart health, gaining weight, and lowering levels of blood sugar.
The Gut Microbiome
According to Healthline, the gut microbiome is an essential part to your health. As previously mentioned, it is connected to several health conditions: the immune system, brain health, gut health, heart health, weight, and blood sugar.
The gut microbiome helps control your immune system because of its relation to immune cells and therefore affects how your body responds to infection. This is why the gut microbiome can be linked to individuals’ diverse responses to certain drugs. Cancer patients may respond to chemotherapy differently, and the gut microbiome can play a role in the distinction.
In addition to helping control your immune system, the gut microbiome also helps control your brain health. Studies have shown that the gut microbiome may affect the central nervous system, which in turn controls your brain function.
The gut microbiome can both positively and negatively affect your gut health. It plays a role in intestinal diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease. However, certain healthy bacteria found in the gut microbiome can also help prevent leaky gut syndrome and seal gaps in between intestinal cells. These healthy bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, can be found in probiotics and yogurt.
Similar to how the gut microbiome affects your gut health, it also has both positive and negative impacts on your heart health. The gut microbiome contains bacteria that may produce chemicals that are harmful to your overall health. These chemicals can block arteries and lead to heart disease. On the other hand, certain bacteria in the gut microbiome can have advantageous effects, such as Lactobacilli that can lower cholesterol as well as the risk of heart disease.
The gut microbiome can lead to weight gain due to an imbalance of healthy and unhealthy microbes. This condition is usually referred to as gut dysbiosis. Additionally, the gut microbiome has an impact on our appetite, the production of gases, the immune system and inflammation, which can all lead to weight gain.
And lastly, the gut microbiome can also help control blood sugar levels and lower the risk of diabetes.
How to Improve Your Microbiome
As mentioned previously, there are cases where prebiotics or probiotics can help improve your microbiome, such as with Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Food like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kefir have the necessary healthy bacteria. Also, it is important to keep a diet filled with foods like beans, legumes, and fruits high in fiber.
You can improve your gut microbiome by consuming less artificial sweeteners. Some artificial sweeteners increase blood sugar levels. So, it is best to limit yourself.
However, you should follow a diverse plant-based diet. Maintaining a plant-based diet can have a huge impact, especially when it comes to reducing levels of bad bacteria that cause disease (E. coli) and decreasing inflammation and cholesterol. Include foods that are rich in polyphenols (green tea, olive oil, etc.) and foods that are high in fiber like whole grains.
In sum, the human microbiome includes a variety of microbes. Here we examined the gut microbiome in particular. The gut microbiome can have both a positive and negative impact on your overall health depending on your condition. If you have any concerns or questions concerning your condition, reach out to your doctor.