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The Microbiome: Gateway To Smooth, Regular Digestion & A Healthy Body

7 minute read

A Brief Understanding of the Microbiome

If you’ve read about supplementing with probiotics, you’ve probably heard about how critical it is to maintain your microbiome. But what exactly is a microbiome and why is it so important? We decided to do some in-depth research about how our microbiome works, and why maintaining it is key to balancing digestive health.

What Are Microbes?

A microscopic organism is a life form that is too small to see with the naked eye. It is the general term for more specific species, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protists. Some are more helpful than others. Since all of these organisms live in your microbiome, we’ll use the general term “microbe” to describe them. 

A Collection of Bacteria

The human microbiome is a comprehensive collection of bacteria and microbes in a community. In that sense, the human microbiome is very similar to the human genome, except the genes of our microbiome outnumber it by about 100 to 1. That’s why it’s important to keep your gut healthy and flourishing with bacteria.

Different Environments, Different Microbiomes

Just as a polar bear can’t thrive in the tropics, the microbes that make up our microbiome can’t flourish in different regions of our body. A microbe living on
our arm, for example, won’t survive in our gut. So when the environment of our microbiome suffers, it can negatively affect the health of local microbial species.1

Microbiome under microscope

A Symbiotic Relationship

Our microbes have been working with us for the entire history of the human species. Our bodies provide protected, nutrient-rich habitats for the microbes to survive in, and in return, they lend us their genes in order to help us digest food.

Recently, researchers have also found that these genes provide proteins that help build vital nutrients, and others help shield us from potentially harmful bacteria. Additionally, we’re starting to learn just how connected our gut flora is to almost every other process in the human body. This symbiosis is not only apparent in humans, but other species as well.2

Nothing Stays the Same

Our microbiome can change drastically throughout our lives. As infants, we’re constantly gathering new microbes from our parents, pets, and any surfaces we come into contact with. It’s an essential stage that may affect our lifelong health.

During puberty or pregnancy, our hormones change the climate of our microbiome, which may affect the makeup of our microbial population. Illness can also change our microbiome’s environment, especially if we take antibiotics, which can kill a vast number of healthy microbes in the process of eliminating viral infections.

Brown and white sugar

Refined sugars, processed foods, and stress all contribute to negative changes both within our microbiome, and throughout our network of system functions. For this reason, it is critical to maintain the overall health of the microbiome.

Probiotics (& Prebiotics) Save the Day

During all of these natural life processes, we risk losing microbes that we can’t regain easily, which is why supplementing our diet with probiotics is critical to a balanced microbiome. Without supplementation, we stand to lose some of the digestive optimization, protective barriers, and nutrition that our body needs.

That’s why taking a quality probiotic supplement is essential to help support your microbiome throughout your life. We suggest finding a high-quality probiotic product with premium, natural ingredients, and if possible, added prebiotics.

Prebiotics contribute to the growth and vitality of the healthy microbial strains that we need to make the most of probiotics and enhance our digestive health.
Try to look for probiotic supplements, that contain at least fifty billion live cultures, and if available, prebiotics as fuel for your microbes to flourish within the gut flora.

How Your Microbiome Changes Over Your Life

Our microbiomes are living ecosystems. They’re so similar to larger ecosystems—like the ocean or a rain forest—that biologists reference them all the time. And just like these ecosystems, conditions in our microbiome change over time.

0-1 Years Old (Infancy):

Our microbiomes are active from the start. Bacteria colonize at birth, but we receive different types depending on where and how we come into the world.

Infants playing in the park

People who were born via C-section will have different microbes from those who were born naturally, and these effects last our whole lives long. As infants, we not only receive bacteria from our mothers, but from everything we touch.3

2 Years Old:

This is a tumultuous time for our microbiomes. They’re changing with our new nutritional experiences, plus they gather up to one thousand different species
of microbes. Most match those of our mothers and—over time—our fathers.

8 Years Old:

Our microbiome has been relatively stable in the years leading up to this age. Though it can be effected by outside factors like disease and changes in diet,
it tends to have a baseline that closely resembles our microbiomes as adults.

15 Years Old:

Puberty causes major shifts in our microbial makeup. Changes in the oils on our skin affect the bacteria living there, and the species start to affect our cognition.4

30 Years Old:

This is the time when our microbiome is at its most stable. Changes brought on by stress, disease, or diet are usually small and extremely temporary. The only major shifts in our microbial makeup would come from hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. During this time, you may want to try supplementing with a premium and natural supplement to keep your system in optimal condition.

Senior woman enjoying some yogurt

65+ Years Old:

The number of total microbial species are decreasing, but certain types are actually increasing. As we age, our microbiomes start to look similar. This is an ideal time to supplement your microbiome with probiotics to promote added vitality and health.

Throughout our lives, our microbiomes change as much as we do. They’re heavily affected by our parents, our upbringing, and our environment. Sometimes these microbiomes need our help to stay balanced, so supplementing with a premium probiotics product that contains a wide variety of strains and cultures is key.

With any luck, you can optimize the health of your microbiome like never before.

  1. http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/microbiome/changing/
  2. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352289515300370
  3. http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/microbiome/changing/
  4. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352289515300370