Extensive research has been done in recent years on the human gut microbiota. Our gut bacteria has profound affects on every aspect of our health and disease.
The gut holds over 100 trillion cells, and growing evidence is showing that the bacteria influence a number of health issues, from inflammatory bowel disease to obesity. The gut has many functions, including digestion of complex polysaccharides, synthesis of vitamins, and resistance to disease causing pathogens.1
Everyone is different and therefore the right diet, depends a lot on that individual’s microbes.
- Eating a variety of plants in your diet can provide numerous vitamins and minerals, which are thought to reduce many diseases such as obesity, diabetes and colon cancer and improve immunity. Researchers are beginning to study individual foods and have discovered that the nutrient content varies, depending on where the food has been grown, how they are stored, and also how they are cooked.
- The time of year alters the diversity of the microbiome. Sun exposure and outdoor exposure is said to enhance the diversity.
- Whether you’re male or female makes a difference.
- Sleeping patterns alter the microbiome. Fewer than six hours yields a less diverse microbiome. Shift work can disrupt the rhythm of the microbes.2
- Alcohol can wipe out many beneficial microbiota.
- Antibiotics wipe the microbiome. Some individuals can recover quickly after the course of antibiotics have finished, others could still be affected one year later.
Frequent exercise has been shown to result in a more diverse microbiome, especially outdoor activities.
It has also been shown that mothers who have been exposed to farm animals and farms while pregnant, had children with less allergies, such as asthma. This happens when the immune system increases T Reg cells, which in turn decrease the TH2 part of our immune system, that is associated with allergies, so it is clear that our environment plays a major role in how well our gut is functioning.3
Nourishing our gut is vitally important for health. It is clear that western diets and environmental chemicals are having a profound impact on human health. Doing our best to take care of our microbiome will increase our wellness and hopefully our life span.
- Guinane Caitriona M. Guinane et al, Role of the gut microbiota in health and chronic gastrointestinal disease 2013: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3667473/
- Voight Robin M. et al, Circadian Disorganization Alters Intestinal Microbiota 2014: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4029760
- Fujimura Kei E et al, Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health 2011: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2881665/