The oldest form of life on Earth is known to have been microorganisms. You're made up 43% of these microorganisms that we refer to as Microbiome or Microbiota.
The Microbiome is an ecosystem where Bacteria, Viruses, Parasites, Fungi, Archaea etc live in and on you.
There are about 100 Trillion cells that make your body. This is fairly a small number if you consider that there are quadrillions of bacteria, 300,000 species of parasites, about 5 million species of fungi. And there are 10 million times more viruses on Earth than there are stars in the whole Universe. These viruses are about 125,000 different species.
Surprisingly, human only have 20,000 genes while a tiny flea has 30,000. 99% of your DNA doesn't code for genes. But rather an input of your microbiome.
It's assumed that your microbiome outnumbers your human cells. Therefore, suggesting that if it were not for these microorganisms, human cells would not have evolved on their own.
You possess different compositions of Microbiome. With each colonising different zones. These Microbiomes contribute to your good health or disease.
- The Oral Microbiome; dominated by Streptococcal species, with Veillonella, Gamella, Neisseria etc
- The Reproductive Tract microbiome; which plays a major role in the prevention of multiple diseases; bacteria, yeast, urinary, infections etc..Lactobacillus being predominant species here.
- Human milk microbiome; dominated by staphylococci, streptococci, lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria.
- The Skin Microbiome; Are found Staphylococcus
epidermidis, Corynebacterium, and Propionibacterium acnes.
- Gut Microbiome; Intestinal microorganisms.
Your intestines have trillions of microorganisms which constitute more genome than all human cells in the body. The colon harbour the largest diversity and abundance of your microbiomes
You have about 300-500 different kinds of bacterias counting to about 2 million genes. Paired with viruses, fungi, parasites, yeast, archaea, they make what’s known as the gut microbiome or microbiota. Your gut microbiome is unique just like your fingerprint.
Where do you get your microbiome from?
A mother's gut microbiome change drastically during pregnancy, to cater for the unborn.
New studies show that the foetus does have some few amounts of the microbiome. One study found microbiota in the placenta of newly born babies.
Nevertheless, you acquired your microbiome from your mom during birth if you followed the birth canal, you breathed the Reproductive tract microbiome of your mom. Which is dominated by Lactobacillus and Prevotella bacteria.
However, if you're a C section baby you acquired bacteria similar to those associated with Skin microbiome (Staphylococcus, Propionibacterium) since that's what they first come into contact with. This skin microbiome could be of your mother or those of the midwife who held you first.
Babies born through C-section have high risks of health conditions like asthma, type 1 diabetes etc.
Your microbiome quickly changed within the first year. It was shaped by what you were fed on, breast or formula milk, by your environment and other factors.
There are significant differences between the gut microbiome of breastfed babies and those fed on formula.
By the age of three, your microbiome became stable though it's constantly influenced by your diet, drugs, like antibiotics, stress and environment.
Role of your microbiome.
Your microbiome plays a fundamental role in the training and functioning of your immune system.
Bacterias are responsible for the early development and maturation of your intestinal mucosal system, and they continue to play a role throughout your life.
Gut microbiome supplies you with essential nutrients, including vitamin K B-vitamins. They synthesize all essential and non-essential amino acids. Carry out biotransformation of bile.
They help in the fermentation of non-digestible fibres, and sugar. This fermentation supports the growth of special microbes that produce Short Chains Fatty Acids (SCFA) such as Butyrate and gases.
SCFA plays an important role in muscle function and in the prevention of certain diseases.
Gut microbiome produces energy and absorbable substrates for your cells and also supplies energy and nutrients for microbiome growth and their proliferation.
Gut microbiome prevents you from being colonized by harmful pathogens. They do this by producing some antimicrobial compounds and competing for nutrients. They also attach themselves into your gut lining thus preventing the pathogens from finding location.
Your gut microbiome has a regulatory role in your anxiety, mood, cognition and pain.
Families of bacteria in your Gut.
Large families of bacteria found in the human gut include; Prevotella, Ruminococcus, Bacteroides and Firmicutes. Escherichia Coli.
In the colon where there's low oxygen, we find bacteria like Peptostrptococcus, Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Clostridium.
Diet and your Gut Microbiome.
Your diet plays a major role in determining what kind of microbiome live in your colon. In addition, factors like drugs, genes and environment shape your microbiome's uniqueness.
SCFA are released as a result of fermentation. This lowers the PH of your colon which in turns determines the type of microbiome present that would survive in this acidic environment.
The low PH limits the growth of some harmful bacteria like Clostridium
Contrary to the high
The Germ theory and your microbiome
We've ended up wiping all the microbiome through sterilization, radiation etc leaving us vulnerable to those who resist.
These resistant microorganisms are obviously not the most beneficial to us.
Studies have shown that kids who grow in homes which are super sterilised lack diversity of microbiome, thus having a weaker immune system which makes them prone to falling sick quite often.
Just a recent study from Canada has shown how house disinfectant can alter kid's microbiome.
Drugs and Microbiome
You might be already aware of the Antibiotic Resistance that we're facing today, due to overuse of antibiotics.
Antibiotics are known to kill off a large number bacterias in the gut within a very short time of use.
Now there are not just antibiotics, other medications have shown to modify the gut microbiome.
On the other hand, gut microbiome influences drugs metabolism. they can turn a drug into active, inactive or toxic.
Microbiome and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).
- There is the presence of specific types of gut bacteria that are correlated with RA.
- A study conducted by Dr Dan Littman found that 75% of people with new onset or untreated RA had Prevotella
Corpiin their gut. The presence of Prevotella Corpi amount in the reduction of beneficial microbes like Bacteroids.
- Patients with RA show an Intestinal dysbiosis (imbalance of bacteria). Some studies have found that RA is associated with low-diversity in the microbiome.
- Porphyromonas G
ingivalis, a major pathogenic bacterium found in the oral diseases, may be connected with the development of RA.
- Surprisingly, Lactobacillaceace and Lactobacillus which are friendly bacterias were found to be significantly abundant in patients with RA; it's suggested that there's a potential relationship between Lactobacillus and the development and progression of RA.
- Microbes belonging to the Phylum Actinobacteria play a significant role in RA pathogenesis, As both Collinsella and Eggerthella, were observed to predict the RA status.
- Faecalibacterium is one of the most abundant Firmicutes in your gut that produces Butyrate. A decrease in this bacteria and increase of Collinsella may lead to the Intestinal permeability which will result in inflammation.
What you should do
- You can improve your gut microbiome by eating fermented food and probiotics.
- Breathing in a fresh air where the ecosystem is still preserved like river banks and forests. You'll breathe in new microbiomes.
- Feed the already microbiome in your gut with a diet rich in
fiber. Remember that your microbiome is depending on what you eat for their survival.
- Eat yourself some good dirt! Do some gardening if you have that chance.
For instance, I, unfortunately, do not possess a garden. But I buy my fruits and veggies from farmers who are respecting our planet by using no pesticides on their produce. I, therefore, don't over clean my veggies, I don't peel off the skin and sometimes I just chew my carrots with their soil on.
- Walk barefooted on the soil or on the grass.
- Expose yourself to microorganisms! STOP using sanitizers.
- Nature Review microbioligy..https://www.nature.com/articles/nrmicro.2017.157
- NHI National Institute of Health…https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/gut-microbes-linked-rheumatoid-arthritis
- Dr. Axe…https://draxe.com/eating-dirt/
- The Guardian..https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/mar/19/wide-range-of-drugs-affect-gut-microbes-not-just-antibiotics