Deep within our bodies you’ll find an array of tiny elements: bacteria, cells –a whole environment that helps our system function on a daily basis. In the external world, this environment is referred to as a biome — a naturally occurring community of microbacteria that exists inside a natural habitat, like a forest or a desert.
Similar to an ecosystem, but certainly not the same, biomes are found all over the world. And inside the human body, there’s a very special type of biome that can actually be found in our gut.
Gut microbiota, our microbiome, is essentially the microbe population living inside of our intestines, helping us to function. These microbiota can contain trillions and trillions of bacteria to keep our digestive tract clean and functional.
We actually accumulate our gut microbiota at birth. The composition of our microbiota is influenced even by the process of our birth, from the air within the room where we were delivered, to microorganisms we are given by our mother’s touch. Our microbiome keeps growing and evolving over the course of our young lives, constantly being modified and influenced by what we come into contact with within our environment.
Our microbiota is capable of a lot for being so tiny. It aids in the production of vitamins B and K, fights against microorganisms that are causing harm, and provides us with a clean digestive tract by digesting foods that are not able to be digested by the stomach and small intestine.
Many institutes around the world are dedicated to exploring the connections between microbiota and disease. Very common illnesses such as asthma, anxiety, and even dental cavities can be directly linked back to effects of an imbalance of the microbiota. Thankfully, due to the research of mirobes, microbiomes, and microbiota, doctors are beginning to find new ways of treating these illnesses and more, by manipulating the microbes that helped to cause them.
While it may seem odd that a school of microorganisms are swimming around in our guts, there are major benefits to adjusting our lifestyles to aid in the goals of our microbiota, the most important being the protection and good health of our intestinal tract. Adding simple probiotics into our daily diets, such as yogurts and pickles, can give our bodies back the good bacteria that it needs, especially in our guts. A probiotic balanced diet can help to prevent stomach pain, digestive issues, and chronic illnesses.
Of course, as can be expected with most theories, there are pushbacks in this arena. The “Old Friends Hypothesis,” shows us that there are many drawbacks to being so proactive about being clean and hygienic. Essentially, many researchers believe the lack of bacterial exposure decreases the resilience and diversity of one’s own microbiome. The solution here is to remember that a healthy balance of ultimately good hygienic and nutritional practices will serve most the best.
Although there is much we do not know about our microbiota, the staggering amount of data and research that points to nurturing our microbiomes in hopes of having a happy and healthier body should not be ignored.
By studying the tiniest phenomena inside of our bodies, scientists and doctors have made major discoveries in best practices for our health, both physically and mentally. The next time you’re feeling a bit down or ill, remember that your microbiota is hard at work to clear out the trouble and introduce harmony to your system.