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Microbi...What? 5 Ways To Improve Your Microbiome And Elevate Your Health

What Is The Microbiome?

The term "microbiome" sounds more like something from a science fiction movie than part of your composite makeup, but the microbiome is actually the genetic collection of all microbes. The microbes consist of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and their genes, which naturally live in your body. Think of the body’s microbiome as a giant city in which the microbes are the employees who keep the city running properly. The most common microbiome area is the colon, where trillions of microorganisms keep the gut environment healthy, break down dietary fibers, and produce important nutrients. 

No human has the same microbiome, and it’s as unique as a person’s fingerprint. The microbiome is essential for human development, and our body’s bacteria (the good kind) work symbiotically within our gut to protect us from the disease-causing bacteria, as well as B vitamins, thiamine, riboflavin, and vitamin K. The bacteria in the microbiome also help digest our food, regulate our immune system, and play many more important roles. Despite its importance, the microbiome can alter and be influenced by environmental factors such as lifestyle, eating habits, activity level, and more. 

There Is Such A Thing As Good Bacteria

Bacteria. Is. Everywhere. Even if you shower daily and wash your hands every hour, bacteria is a permanent resident in and on your body, but don’t be alarmed—it’s a good thing. A few other “biomes,” in the body (crawling with (good) bacteria) include the skin, mouth, genitals, nose, ears, and eyes. 

Microbiome Vs. Microbes

A microbiome describes the collection of genomes from all the microorganisms in the environment, whereas microbiota can refer to all the microorganisms found within an environment such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc. Too small for the human eye, microbes play a major role in our health and wellness such as, protecting us against diseases, infections, helping our immune system stay healthy, and enabling us to digest food to produce energy–to name a few.

Microbes Outnumber Cells

Humans are made of over 100 trillion microbes. Outnumbering the number of cells ten to one, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health SciencesThe number of genes in all microbes in one person’s microbiome is 200 times the number of genes in the human genome. The microbiome may even weigh as much as five pounds!

Microbiome History And Research

Although the concept and importance of the microbiome's influence on health go back to the early 1680’s, according to the article, The Human Microbiome, a study done by What is Biotechnology, the beginning of microbial ecology was done in the 1800's by Sergei Winogradsky. Even so, the term “microbiome” was not generally recognized to exist until the 1980’s and 90’s. Today, it’s actively being researched, providing insight into mostly unknown biology of the human body. 

The Human Microbiome Project

One such initiative named the Human Microbiome Project, began in 2007 and ended in 2016. It was an extension of the Human Genome Project. 

It was launched by the National Institutes of Health with the mission to compile the appropriate resources to understand, characterize, and analyze the role of the microbiome in health and disease. The results of this scientific study can be found, HERE. 

How To Keep Your Microbiome Healthy

Since the microbiome contributes largely to our health and wellness it’s important to ensure you take action to make sure it’s a healthy environment. The 5 simple changes you can make to help improve your microbiome are:

  1. Eat less sugar and artificial sweeteners.Too much sugar and artificial sweeteners may cause an imbalance of gut microbes. Artificial sweeteners can have a negative effect on blood glucose levels and are linked with metabolic disease. Think diabetes and heart disease. 
  2. Avoid taking unnecessary antibiotics.These can damage the gut microbiota and lead to decreased natural immunity. 
  3. Exercise at least 150 minutes per week. Breaking a sweat has been proven to improve species diversity in the gut, according to a 2014 study
  4. Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Less sleep and irregular sleep patterns are known to cause inflammation issues that contribute to an unhealthy microbiome. 
  5. Take probiotics.With its bacteria and probiotic classes, taking a daily probiotic may help support a healthy gut,  decrease inflammation, and reduce other intestinal problems, according to a research study done by the National Library of Medicine. If you're looking for a probiotic that covers all 3 probiotic classes and includes 14 strains, check outHerman Organic Ultra Strength Probiotic for digestion and gut health. 

Overall, it’s important to recognize the influence and impact that the microbiome has on our overall wellness. A healthy microbiome will help protect your body against diseases, help control digestion, aid the immune system, and do a multitude of other jobs. So, stay healthy, friends!