7 Little-Known Gut Microbiome Facts

Chances are, you have heard of the “gut microbiome,” and may even have a general idea about its purpose and the importance of maintaining a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut. But there is a good chance that you were not aware of these seven lesser-known gut microbiome facts.

What Exactly is the Gut Microbiome?

7 Little-Known Gut Microbiome Facts 1Your gut microbiome consists of the various bacteria, fungi, viruses and other tiny organisms that live inside your intestines. These microbes are primarily found inside a small pocket of the large intestine known as the cecum. Collectively, the microbes present in the large intestine are known by scientists as the gut microbiome.

Even though there may be up to 1,000 different types of bacteria species in a person’s gut microbiome, each kind plays a crucial role in protecting your overall health. While they are all microscopic individually, taken as a whole, they can weigh up to five pounds.

Gut Microbiome Facts

Now that you have a basic understanding of the gut microbiome, here are seven interesting gut microbiome facts that most people do not know about this important body system.

1. The Gut Microbiome Can Alter How Well Your Medication Works

Researchers have found that it is not uncommon for your gut bacteria to interfere with the effectiveness of medications. Not only may the state of your microbiome reduce the efficacy of important medications, but it could also render medications toxic in certain circumstances.

2. People with Fibromyalgia Have Different Gut Bacteria

Scientists in Canada were recently able to shed a little light on how women with fibromyalgia have different types of gut bacteria than those without this disease. The study found that a patient’s symptoms demonstrated a direct link to an increased amount or a significant absence of particular types of bacteria in the gut. This breakthrough will hopefully make it easier for doctors to diagnose this condition more quickly and may even help medical researchers to discover new treatments.

3. Certain Gut Bacteria Can Help Protect Against Food Allergies

Promoting a healthy gut microbiome may also help to protect against deadly food allergies. Research has shown that babies and children that suffer from food allergies are often missing particular species of gut bacteria. This revelation may provide clues to scientists as to the best ways to treat food allergies. For example, rather than using traditional oral immunotherapy treatments, it may be more beneficial to focus on introducing missing strands of gut bacteria to the patient’s microbiome.

4. The Quality of Your Diet Affects Your Microbiome

What you eat can also have a significant effect on the proper function of your gut microbiome. Being intentional about nourishing your body with a healthy and varied diet will boost the number of good bacteria in your intestine. Conversely, regularly eating foods that are void of nutritional value may increase the amount of harmful bacteria that reside in your gut. The best foods to eat if your goal is to improve the health of your gut microbiome includes naturally fermented foods, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains.

5. The Gut Microbiome May Play a Role in Prostate Cancer

As one of the most common types of cancer in men, prostate cancer is also the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. This makes it vitally important to find ways to better diagnose and treat this deadly cancer. A recent study found that men with diagnosed prostate cancer had less microbial diversity than men without prostate cancer. While this does not prove a causal effect, the knowledge could be helpful in diagnosing this type of cancer.

6. Gut Microbes Have Been Shown to Help Extinguish Fear in Mice

An experiment performed on mice has shown a clearer connection between the gut and the brain. The research detailed how microbes located in the intestine of the mice are capable of influencing the ability to unlearn certain fear responses. The results of the study showed that mice who had reduced gut microbes were not able to ascertain if a threat was present, showing a connection between the often misunderstood gut-brain axis.

7. Your Blood Type Helps Co-determine the Composition of Your Gut Microbiome

7 Little-Known Gut Microbiome FactsA study out of Kiel University has recently established a connection between the genetic variations that are responsible for your blood type and the occurrence of some of the bacteria that reside in the gut. These results show that an individual’s genetics are a key factor that affect the bacteria in the gut. This revelation proves that the gut microbiome is more than just a group of microorganisms that are influenced by the outside environment. Instead, your blood type and genetics can also influence this collection of helpful bacteria.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding the gut microbiome. Digging deeper into the inner workings of the gut microbiome has also posed new questions that scientists will continue to explore to gain a better understanding of many health issues. This fascinating biological system holds many clues as to how you can achieve optimal health and wellness by working to maintain optimal gut microbiome health.

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