What Is the Gut Microbiome? Why Is It Important to Your Health?
What is a gut microbiome?
The gut microbiome refers to the population of microbes that lives in your intestine. It contains trillions of microorganisms, including a minimum of 1,000 different kinds of bacteria and more than three million genes. But in any given individual, only 150 to 179 bacterial species dominate.
The human microbiome is made up of a combination of bacteria, viruses, archaea, and eukaryotic microbes living in and on our bodies. They assist with metabolic functions, protect against pathogens, aid the immune system and, more or less, affect most of our bodily functions. Perhaps even more fascinating, while one-third of the gut microbes we carry are common, two-thirds are specific to every individual. They’re essentially an identifying blueprint for every individual.
How do these unique microbes affect your health?
The answer — in a variety of ways.
Gut bacteria assist in digestion, as well as help to produce vitamin B and vitamin K. They help with immune function, affect obesity risk, and even help to control how the body produces serotonin, which in turn affects mental health.
Interactions between these microbes and the host immune system are many. The immune system itself has to learn to tolerate them and to respond to pathogens. And, the microbes are also vitally important in teaching the immune system to operate properly. Obviously, gut microbes are important enough to be kept in balance. But this is not always the case.
The balance of gut microbes can be altered by aging, illness, or diet. The personalized nature of each person’s gut microbiome means that a loss of balance can occur in some very specific ways. These imbalances are called dysbiosis, and they are connected to health issues such as bowel disorders, diabetes, skin disorders, obesity, allergies, and even inflammatory bowel disease. Clostridium difficile infection is an example of a disease that can develop if the microbiome in the gut is altered.
Since the gut microbiome is influenced by the food we eat and the environment around us, it makes sense that there are ways to make it healthier.
A healthy diet is one important way to increase good gut bacteria. Fermented foods in particular, whether you’re looking at yogurt, sauerkraut or miso, increase the level of bacteria fermenting in the gut. Fruits and vegetables can also improve gut bacteria balance. Perhaps unsurprisingly, exercise is another component in good gut health and may play a crucial role in increasing gut bacteria diversity.
Prebiotics and probiotics can help improve microbiome function, and thanks to research technology, awareness, and diagnosis of imbalances are becoming clearer and easier to treat.
How do you test your microbiome?
One such technological advance is the Vibrant Wellness Gut Zoomer test, which can help in identifying symptoms of a gut microbiome imbalance. The Vibrant Gut Zoomer lets you take a look at these populations of bacteria as well as yeast and parasites that can reside in the gut. It uses microbiome data to monitor, reduce, and manage the gut microbial imbalance and its effects, providing a comprehensive analysis of your microbial profile.
The Gut Zoomer offers a simple, easy stool collection kit to provide a thorough report on risk factors for intestinal disorders, heart health, metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes, autoimmune disorders, overall nutrition and the presence of intestinal parasites and fungal yeast. It offers a succinct map for gut microbiome care, including diet recommendations and supplements, such as polyphenols, prebiotics, and probiotics.
With the importance of gut microbiome as a key for a healthy life, testing for imbalances can be the smart way to assure good health.