Arguably one of the biggest trends in health these days is the microbiome. We hear this word thrown around and yet many of us don’t fully understand what it means. Below I’ll cover an overview of what exactly the microbiome is, when and how we are first colonized, and touch on the 7 major processes the microbiome is involved in.
The microbiome consists of all the bacteria, viruses, fungus, and protozoa that live in and on your body. In fact, cell-per-cell, we are more microbe than we are human. We are outnumbered 10 to 1! While that may get you running to pick up an industrial-sized hand sanitizer, those single-celled organisms are actually a *good* thing to have, and it all starts before we are born.
We begin the colonization of our bodies even before we leave our mother’s womb. Initially the growing fetus was considered sterile, but recent studies have found bacteria in the amniotic fluid that surrounds and protects the baby prior to birth. However, the most-influential point in the colonization of our microbiome comes during the birthing process.
Babies born via the birth canal are colonized with a similar diversity and composition of organisms as the mother. When the baby is birthed via a cesarean section, a different composition of bacteria colonize the newborn. The long-term health differences between both modalities of birth can be significant, with a greater chance for allergies, asthma, and other health concerns for infants born via cesarean section. Other ways the microbiome is influenced at birth is whether Mom breastfeeds or formula feeds. Breast milk contains both probiotics and prebiotics – or nutrients that beneficial bacteria feed on and nutrients that promote the colonization of beneficial bacteria. Infants who are breastfed also tend to have less allergies, asthma, and other health concerns. The vast majority of our microbiome lives within our digestive system, with 90% of the population in your large intestine. The rest of your microbiome covers the rest of your body inside and outside.
So this is all fine and great, but what does the microbiome actually DO besides cover nearly every square inch of our body from the moment we’re born?
There are 7 major activities that the microbiome engages in. The microbiome –
- Aids in digestion
- Helps synthesize vitamins and hormones
- Provides protection from opportunistic infection
- Produces short-chain fatty acids
- Helps train the immune system
- Supports detoxification
- Modulates the nervous system
In the coming weeks I’ll cover each of these activities in a more comprehensive manner. In the meantime, what is your current comprehension on the microbiome? Was there anything in the list of 7 activities the microbiome engages in that surprised you? Leave a comment below! I would love to hear from you.
The stars that fill the night sky are proof we are not alone
Who are we to think we humans are the chosen ones
There MUST be life out there though I imagine foreign to our own
But how do we know… will we EVER know for certain
I don’t imagine it will happen in yours and my lifetime
What an earth shattering discovery it will be if and when it does happen
Can you imagine the excitement, the sheer wonderment
It will transcend everything that has ever gone on before
It will reshape our entire outlook and deepest lifelong beliefs
Will the world be ready and accept it with open arms
I hope with all that’s in me that it will be a peaceful discovery
And one that is celebrated on both worlds
What a time that will be!!!
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