An Introduction to The Gut Microbiome

Have you ever wondered what the gut microbiome is and what it does? Also, what kind of bacteria are in your gut microbiome? 

Everyone has a unique DNA profile as well as a unique microbiome. In fact, your gut microbiome starts its unique identity at birth. This area of research is relatively new and findings conclude that factors such as type of delivery, gestational age, method of feeding and weaning all play a role in the development of the gut microbiome. Antibiotic use in early life can also impact this. 

The gut microbiome remains relatively stable throughout late childhood to adulthood but varies from person to person based on lifestyle, BMI, cultural and dietary practices. Events like disease can impact one’s microbiome too leading to gut dysbiosis. (Keep an eye out for more articles on this later)

Your gut microbiome is responsible for multiple functions such as metabolism of nutrients, enzyme reactions within the gut, protein synthesis, and immunity. Gut microbiota regulate homeostasis within the body. Due to the fact that this is a new area of research there are most likely other functions of the gut microbiome that have yet to be discovered. 

Did you know that the microbiome is identified by several categories in descending order becoming more specific to the exact bacteria found: 

  • Phylum (Firmicutes)
  • Class (Bacilli)
  • Order (Lactobacillales)
  • Family (Lactobacillaceae) 
  • Genus (Lactobacillus)
  • Species (Lactobacillus reuteri)

Several commonly known gut bacteria are classified under firmicutes and Bacteroidetes phyla; these phyla account for approximately 90% of the gut microbiota. Check this out to get a more detailed outline of the gut microbiome and what types of bacteria are found in the human gut. 

Both healthy and pathogenic bacteria reside in the intestines of the GI tract. Factors such as disease and antibiotic use can negatively impact the healthy gut bacteria and allow growth/multiplication of pathogenic bacteria to accumulate leading to gut dysbiosis; poor diet choices and eating foods that your body does not tolerate can do this as well. 

Do you want to know your specific microbiome profile?? Ask a physician to test a stool sample to identify the bacteria found in your body. You can modulate and increase healthy gut bacteria by eating a well-balanced diet, and participating in regular physical activity. Taking probiotics and eating prebiotic rich foods also help to feed and grow healthy gut bacteria in your body. 

If you suspect you have gut dysbiosis or have been diagnosed with IBS talk with a registered dietitian to identify foods and/or supplements you can incorporate to get your gut healthy. 

Belizário, J.E., Faintuch, J. (2018). Microbiome and Gut Dysbiosis. In: Silvestre, R., Torrado, E. (eds) Metabolic Interaction in Infection. Experientia Supplementum, vol 109. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-74932-7_13.

Rinninella E, Raoul P, Cintoni M, et al. What is the healthy gut microbiota composition? A changing ecosystem across age, environment, diet, and diseases. Microorganisms. 2019;7(1):14. doi:10.3390/microorganisms7010014.

Some prebiotic foods to add to your daily dietary rotation:

Blackberries (6 oz)

Organic Ground Flaxseed (14 oz)

 

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