Gut Health: What is the gut microbiome?

Gut Health: What is the gut microbiome?

by Dr. Marli Botha

Hard fact: Your body is full of trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi! They are collectively known as the microbiome. While some bacteria are associated with disease, others are actually extremely important for your immune system, heart, weight and many other aspects of health. This article serves as a guide to the gut microbiome and explains why it’s so important for your health.

6 Facts about Gut Microbiome:

  1. Most of the microbes in your intestines are found in a “pocket” of your large intestine called the cecum, and they are referred to as the gut microbiome.
  2. There are roughly 40 trillion bacterial cells in your body and only 30 trillion human cells.
  3. The gut microbiome affects the body from birth and throughout life by controlling the digestion of food, immune system, central nervous system and other bodily processes.
  4. An imbalance of healthy and unhealthy microbes is sometimes called gut dysbiosis, and it may contribute to weight gain. The bloating, cramps and abdominal pain that people with IBS experience can also be due to gut dysbiosis. This is because the microbes produce a lot of gas and other chemicals, which contribute to the symptoms of intestinal discomfort.
  5. Intestinal microbiota, or gut flora, and the gut barrier determine gut health. These live micro-organisms promote normal GI function, protect the body from infection, and regulate metabolism and the mucosal immune system. In fact, they comprise more than 75% of the immune system.
  6. Also important is their role in maintaining and protecting the GI barrier. An intact GI barrier maintains gut health, while a problem with its microbiota composition will affect the body’s defence systems and can create a condition known as ‘leaky gut syndrome’, which can compromise gut health and lead to diseases such as inflammatory breast cancer, obesity, chronic fatigue syndrome, and depression.

It is important to mention that no food is meant to be a cure-all for any condition, though there are certainly health and skin benefits contained within them. The one thing you should always do before using a new skin care product is to do a patch test to look for allergies and sensitivities.

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