Celebrating World Microbiome Day: Why diversity leads to great gut health
The human microbiome is fascinating. It’s made up of a range of microbiota including bacteria, archaea, fungi, lower and eukaryotes and viruses, with as many as 100 trillion microbes located in or on each individual. They are so small that they are completely invisible to the naked eye. Microbes can be found on our skin, in our oral and nasal passages, and in the genitalia – each area brings millions of microbes together to create complex environments known as microbiomes. Yet while the human microbiome is made up of a collection of microbes, around 95% of these exist within the gastrointestinal (‘GI’) tract, also known as our gut microbiome. Scientists are still discovering how our gut microbiome can influence our physiological wellbeing and the health benefits a truly diverse microbiome could bring. So, to celebrate World Microbiome Day on the 27th June, let’s look at why microbiome diversity is best practice.
What makes us different?
There are currently 7.8 billion people on the planet – and each person has a completely different microbiome to the other. We know now that each person has a microbiome that’s as unique as their fingerprint, though it’s never static. From how they were born and where they grew up to the food they eat as an adult, our gut microbiome is continuously adapting and reacting to our surroundings. For example, human studies have shown that if a child is born through natural birth, they will receive an abundance of bifidobacteria (a probiotic that houses good bacteria) from the vaginal microbiome, resulting in a diverse microbial meal when born. In comparison, those who are born from cesarean will harbour more skin microbiota, leading to a less diverse microbiome and an increased risk of developing chronic immune disorders or inflammatory bowel disease.
How can we diversify our gut microbiome?
With food the source of our survival as humans, research carried out as part of the Human Microbiome Project, has identified a powerful connection between our diet and the type of microbials cells we carry. The popular phrase ‘you are what you eat’ carries more weight behind it than at first thought. As we incorporate healthy balanced meals, a range of fruits, vegetables, nuts and pulses rich in fibre, as well as proteins and fats, the type of bacterial strains within the gut start to change. Natural probiotics can also help too, with sourdough and kimchi great staples for a healthy gut. When a healthy adult continues to eat well, as represented in many science-backed studies, they may hold more than 1,000 species of bacteria in the gut. But the composition and ratio of these strains will differ vastly to an adult that is classified as obese.
But eating healthy food isn’t the only way to diversify our microbiome. Probiotic, prebiotic and synbiotic (a combination of pre- and probiotics) supplements can make a positive impact on our gut health too.
What is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics?
Put simply, probiotics are a source of live bacteria which are found in certain foods (such as sourdough, kimchi, and yoghurts) that can help to improve digestive health and promote greater heart health, while prebiotics are a type of dietary fibre that humans cannot digest. Instead, the beneficial bacteria that thrive in your gut feed off the fibres to deliver physiological benefits.
When we struggle to feed the good bacteria through our diet, supplements are a superb way to replenish them. Probiotics featuring the natural strain Lactobacillus plantarum, including LPLDL® – the patented ingredient from OptiBiotix – can harness the microbiome-liver axis to positively impact upon the gut microbiome, helping to reduce the ‘bad’ low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and improve the ‘good’ high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Supplements such as CholBiome do just this, while delivering the benefits associated with a diverse microbiome.
Prebiotic supplements, on the other hand, can contribute to healthier wellbeing alongside delivering a diverse microbiome. Our award-winning ingredient, SlimBiome®, helps individuals manage their weight by utilising a blend of dietary fibres (glucomannan), prebiotic fibres (chicory root) and a trace mineral (chromium). This blend not only helps curb unhealthy food cravings, but also stimulates the growth of health positive bacteria to enhance microbiome diversity. You find SlimBiome in a range of our products, including GoFigure, SnackSmart and SlimBiome Medical.
As you can see, the human microbiome is truly fascinating. It’s also why we’re celebrating World Microbiome Day with the launch introduction of the blueberry and raspberry flavour in our GoFigure flapjack range. So, why not diversify your microbiome today? If you do, you may start feeling the benefits as early as tomorrow!