What Is The Microbiome? And Why Does It Matter?

What is the Microbiome? And why does it matter?

If you haven’t heard the term ‘microbiome’ yet, you will probably hear a lot about it in the future.
The gut microbiome is a vast ecosystem of organisms such as bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses and protozoans that live in our digestive tract and collectively weigh up to 2kg (heavier than the average human brain). It is increasingly treated by scientists as an organ in its own right. Each gut contains about 100 trillion bacteria, many of which are vital, breaking down food and toxins, making vitamins and, it is increasingly thought, interacting with our immune systems.

The possibility that microorganisms form part of the normal human system emerged a hundred years ago. However, it is in the last 10 years that research into and knowledge of the human microbiome has expanded dramatically. Momentum was created with the launch of the Human Microbiome Project in 2007. This international effort aimed to characterise the microbial communities found in the human body, and to identify each microorganism’s role in health and disease.

What do we know?
The microbiome is changeable. Each person has their own – influenced by factors from birth through our lives. The most dramatic changes in composition occur in infancy and early childhood. The intestinal microbiome of an infant is affected by gestational age (full term or premature), mode of delivery (vaginal birth or caesarean section), type of feed (breast milk or formula feeds), maternal nutritional status (overweight or undernourished) and use of antibiotics.

What is still being discovered?
A lot! There is much still to be learnt regarding the composition, function and role of the microbiome, particularly in relation to if and how dysbiosis (an imbalance in gut bacteria) affects health. However, there is increasing evidence that a good balance of gut bacteria has a positive impact on the gut itself, which is perhaps not surprising. However, the research on the microbiome is now going further, and looking at its effect on other body systems, as diverse as mental health, skin and even obesity.

What affects the microbiome?
While it seems that there are factors that set the composition of the microbiome at birth, there are various theories about what may lead to changes in our microbiome throughout life. Some suggest
that modern lifestyles deplete, reduce diversity of, or unbalance the microbiome. For example, antibiotics that are designed to kill specific harmful bacteria may also kill some of the good ones. So, as well as combatting bacterial infection, antibiotics have the side effect of unbalancing the microbiome because they deplete microbial content and diversity.

Antiseptic modern lifestyles which reduce our exposure to good and bad bacteria are thought to have a similar effect. Playing outside, exposure to animals and dirt, and natural childbirth are all thought to have a formative and positive impact on the development of the microbiome. Good diet, sleep patterns and exercise are also thought to have a positive effect on the microbiome. It is because of these factors that the idea of moderating or balancing the microbiome with live bacteria supplements arose.

As antibiotics might be used to remove or suppress undesirable components of the human microbiome, the theory is that live bacteria supplements introduce missing microbial components with bacteria that are known to exist in abundance in a healthy microbiome.

Symprove exists because we want people to enjoy a happy gut and healthy lives.

We are committed to helping the scientific community understand the microbiome better; and have participated in many trials and clinical studies. We also want to provide helpful information to those who are interested in the gut and the role of the microbiome. Our research shows that on average, those with an understanding of the microbiome and the gut are healthier, fitter and suffer from fewer gut-related conditions than those who don’t. We believe that the more people who understand the relationship between the gut and microbiome, the better.

Symprove has been shown to deliver significant amounts of live bacteria to target sites in the gut outperforming 7 other similar products. The independent study at UCL London showed
Symprove was able to survive, thrive and colonise in the gut better than any of the 7 other products tested.

If you have any questions about the gut or the microbiome, please call us, we would love to help.
#microbiome #symprove

Key source ref: Targeting the Human Microbiome with Antibiotics, Probiotics, and Prebiotics: Gastroenterology Enters the Metagenomics Era

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