Written by Jeannette Hyde, author of ‘The Gut Makeover’ and a leading registered nutritional therapist. Jeannette runs a private practice in central London, working with clients on gut-related issues.
The health of our gut, our digestive system, and the bacteria living in it have been found to be key to many areas of our health – from tummy issues, to immune system, mind, weight, and skin – according to cutting-edge research (1,2,3,4,5).
The “microbiome” is the name given to the trillions of bacteria living in and on us, the highest proportion being in the last section of the digestive system, the colon (2,5).
A microbiome with lots of different types of bugs in it (diversity of bugs is good!) and “friendly” ones flourishing, has been linked with good health, whereas a microbiome lacking diversity and friendly bugs has been linked with obesity and ill health(4).
A microbiome teeming with friendly bacteria helps our immune system – about 70 per cent of the immune system is right there in the gut (2,6).
Feeding the microbiome friendly bacteria may also help support emotional health and cognition – there is a long nerve called the vagus which goes directly from the gut to brain carrying signals (3,7). No wonder the gut has been dubbed our second brain!
The microbiome can be shaped by our diet, stress, exercise, and drugs such as antibiotics. By leading a healthy and balanced lifestyle, we can help influence the composition of the microbiome in a positive way (2,3,8,9).
- Rodiño-Janeiro, B., Vacario, M., Alonson-Cotoner, C., Pascua-García, R., (2018). A Review of microbiota and irritable bowel syndrome: future in therapies. Adv Ther. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12325-018-0673-5
- Velasquez-Manoff, M. (2015). ‘Gut microbiome. The peace-keepers.’ 518. 11.
- Kelly et al (2017). Cross Talk: The microbiota and neurodevelopmental disorders. Review. Frontiers in Neuroscience. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2017.00490
- John, K., Nanavati, W., Twose, C., Singh, R., Mullin, G (2017). Dietary alteration of the gut microbiome and its impact on weight and fat mass: a systematic review and meta-analysis. doi: 10.3390/genes9030167
- Mankowska-Wierzbicka et al. (2015). The microbiome and dermatological diseases. PHMD. 69. 978-985.
- Vighi, G., Marcucci, F., Sensi, L., Di Cara, G., Frati, F. (2008). Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clinical and Experimental Immunology. doi: 1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x
- Tillisch, K., et al. (2013). Consumption of fermented milk product with probiotic modulates brain activity. Gastroenterology. 144. 7. 1394–401.
- David et al. (2014). Diet rapidly and reproducibly alters the human gut microbiome. Nature. 505. 7484. 559-563.
- Blaser, M. (2014). The microbiome revolution. The Journal of Clinical Investigation. 124. 10.