WHAT THE HECK IS YOUR MICROBIOME?

Shot of coworkers trying to solve something on a digital tablet at work

When I first heard about the human microbiome, there were a lot of scientific discussions thrown around it. So naturally, I didn’t particularly care to find out what it was all about. But the more reading I did on other wellness topics, the more experts focused on what they termed the human “microbiome”. I also heard it referred to as “gut microbiota”. At this point, i realized this had become one of those buzzwords in the wellness industry. I had to find out what the excitement was all about. The reason I am blogging about this today is simple. Understanding and properly populating your microbiome seems to be a major key player, if not the most important key component in optimizing your complete wellness. So,  what the heck is your microbiome and how do you get it to naturally work for you? 

Human microbiome, conceptual illustration. Bacteria forming a human body.

The human body is home to over a hundred trillion microbes like bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses. We are made up of more microbes than human cells. The “microbiota” refers to the micro-organisms that live within us or on us. The “microbiome” refers to the genetic products from these microbiota. The microbiota lives in different parts of the body (skin, gut, armpits, nose, etc) and each community is unique in it’s make up. 

Conceptual illustration of human microbiome microbes.

The microbiome is the collection of microbes found on and in the human body. They line our nostrils, digestive tract, they are on our skin, etc. Some of the microbes help to keep us healthy and it may be possible to transfer these good microbes (probiotics) from a donor to a patient to treat an illness.

Where do we get the microbiota from? Usually when you are born. It is important to note that babies born through vaginal birth acquire a different kind of microbiota that those born through C-section. Also note that those who are breastfed, also have a different set than those that are formula fed. Your environment and lifestyle choices, also eventually influence your microbiome. Each human’s microbiota is unique to that individual. 

Various bacteria and pathogens on a human hand, the microbiota of the skin, 3d illustration.

What do these microbiota do for us? They actually make some B vitamins (like folate) that we need. B vitamins help us to consume, digest, and metabolize more foods. Another important function of this microbiota is to produce chemicals like serotonin that encourage communication between your gut and your brain.  Our microbiota also help us digest plants that otherwise would have been extremely difficult to digest and absorb. Science shows that increased diversity of your microbiota influences your weight, allergies, colds and flus, risk for cancer, etc

Greek yogurt in a glass jars with spoons, Healthy breakfast with Fresh greek yogurt, muesli and berries on background.

How can we then improve our microbiome for optimal health? What foods can we eat to properly populate our entire microbiome?  One way is to get on a good daily probiotic and ensure diversification of your probiotic intake as time goes on.  Probiotics are live microorganisms you get from food or pills, that function like good bacteria in the gut. You can  get your probiotic from fermented foods like sauerkraut (fermented raw cabbage), pickled vegetables or  fermented corn cereal (aka pap) from Africa. 

Fermented vegetables. Homemade marinated cabbage with carrot and cucumbers, sauerkraut sour in glass jars. Preserved canned vegetables, superfoods and vegetarian food.

Prebiotics are the foods that feed the live microorganisms that feed your good bacteria to keep a healthy balance of the microbiome. Whatever you do, always make sure you are filled with great microbiota so that your microbiome can keep you strong and healthy to be able to reduce your risk  for infections and other diseases.

Coachkay 

WLS, FNS, CNC (NASM)

#Mashfire

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