Living on and inside of you is an entire world of microbes called the microbiota. These microbes are extremely important to the way your body functions. In fact, they outnumber your genes by 100:1! These microbiota make up your microbiome. They influence your digestion, immune system, mood, cognitive function, metabolic rate, and even the way you age.
Your microbiota is as unique as your own fingerprints. The composition of each person’s microbiome depends on diet, stress level, environment, age, and other factors. If you’re feeling creeped out, don’t be! Your microbiome is extremely important. Here are 5 things you should know about it.
Your microbiome helps you digest food
We could not digest many of the things we eat without the beneficial bacteria in our gut. Gut bacteria produce enzymes that help us digest polysaccharides (healthy, complex sugars found in plants). They are also responsible for providing us with B vitamins, Vitamin K, and short chain fatty acids. Thus, they are responsible for helping influence the nutritional value of the food we eat.
Your microbiome helps boost your immune system
There’s a lot of interaction between your immune system and the bacteria in your gut. As your immune system is exposed to different organisms, your microbiota mediates the relationship. Meaning, it teaches your immune system which invaders are friends or foes. This helps keep your body from attacking friendly gut bacteria needed for digestion. These microbes also stimulate tissue around the gut to increase production of antibodies when needed.
Your microbiome influences your mental health
The brain and the gut are connected via the vagus nerve, enteric nervous system, and the gut-brain axis. Your gut microbiota actually interact with your central nervous system to regulate brain chemistry. That’s right, your gut bacteria can actually affect your response to stress, anxiety, and even your memory.
Research has shown that gut bacteria influences serotonin and dopamine production. Seratonin doesn’t just make you feel happy, it aids in digestion as well. In fact, 90% of your body’s seratonin can be found in your gut.
Your microbiome promotes healthy skin
Our skin is covered in a biofilm of microbes that form a protective layer over us. These microbes protect us from bacterial and fungal invasion. They also convert skin oils into natural moisturizers that keep our skin healthy.
Your microbiome protects you from toxins
Bifidobacteria is responsible for keeping toxins from passing through the intestinal wall and into your bloodstream.
Microbiota is also responsible for:
- Controlling metabolism and nutrient storage
- Decreasing inflammation
- Producing antimicrobials
- Maintaining tissue integrity
- Controlling blood pressure
You could say that thanks to the microbiome, we are more than humans, we are are super organisms! The role our microbiota plays is central to the body’s operation. That’s why it’s important to maintain good gut health.
Maintaining a positive microbiome is all about diet. Make sure you’re eating a diverse diet rich in complex carbohydrates, fiber, probiotics, and prebiotics. Have questions? Give us a call!