Our human microbiome plays a pivotal role on how we feel overall. How we choose to eat directly affects the balance of the microbiome we have to aid in absorption and digestion. These microbiomes consists of trillions of microorganisms of various species. In a healthy person, this bacteria coexist in a balanced manner, with the majority of them present in both our small and large intestines. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, "The microbiome is even labeled a supporting organ because it plays so many key roles in promoting the smooth daily operations of the human body." The balance that each person has in their microbiome is correlated to their DNA from birth. The microbiome has a certain amount of helpful (symbiotic) and potentially harmful bacteria (pathogenic). Usually it is a disturbance within the body caused by an infectious illness, certain diets, or extended use of antibiotics or other bacteria-reducing medications that can alter the balance of the human microbiome in our bodies.
Therefore, the body may become more susceptible to disease. Microbiome does also have many benefits to the body as well. For starters, it stimulates the immune system, breaks down potentially toxic food compounds, and synthesize certain vitamins and amino acids (e.g. B Vitamins and Vitamin K). Sugars like lactose or the common table sugar are absorbed rapidly in the upper portion of the small intestine, but complex carbohydrates like starches and/or fiber are not digested easily. As a result, these foods may travel much lower into the large intestine. The fermentation of indigestable fibers stirs the onset of short chain fatty acids that can be used by the human body as a nutrient source, but also in aiding muscle function and in some cases prevent chronic diseases.
This may include illnesses such as certain cancers and bowel disorders. The microbiota of a healthy person will also provide adequate protection from pathogens that enter our bodies from a refreshment or contaminated food. Large groups of bacteria are located in the human gut which include: Prevotella, Ruminococcus, Bacteroides, and Firmicutes. Also, the colon which is a low oxgen environment is home to several anaerobic bacteria like Peptostreptococcus, Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Clostridium.
Overall, our microbiome is a living dynamic environment where the relative abundance of species may fluctuate daily, weekly, or monthly. It is influenced by our diet, medication, exercise, and an array of other environmental exposures.
Until the next post...be well.