How Your Microbiome Shapes Your Health
Your microbiome - the bugs that live inside your digestive tract - have a crucial role in health and wellbeing. In this Health Article, we reveal the latest research on how your microbiome affects everything from digestive health to body weight, mental health and immunity.
What is the Microbiome?
The gut microbiome is the community of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and viruses that live in the digestive tract. The microbiome is made up of approximately 300 – 500 different types of bugs that form a complex ecosystem inside each and every one of us.
There are about three times more bugs in the microbiome than the number of cells that make up the human body. There are approximately 100 trillion bugs in the microbiome, and about 30 trillion cells that make up the human body.
The bugs of the microbiome perform essential functions that contribute to the physiology of the human host, and of course the bugs benefit from the human host by having a place to live! Biologists call that type of mutually beneficial relationship “symbiosis”.
Each of us has an entirely unique microbiome. That’s because your microbiome is determined from the birthing process and feeding in infancy, be it mother’s breast milk or formula. The make up of the bugs that an infant is exposed to depends on the species found in the mother.
As you develop through life, the species of bugs that develop in your microbiome depends on factors such as diet, exercise, and antibiotic use. These factors can change your microbiome to be either beneficial to health, or to place you at greater risk of disease.
While everyone’s microbiome is different, there are certain species of bugs that confer health benefits and other species that are associated with poor health. Overall, the diversity of the microbiome is important too – the more diversity, the more health benefits.
Researchers have been studying the microbiome and its impacts on health and wellness for several decades. In recent years, technologies have revealed new insights on how the microbiome affects everything from digestive health to body weight, mental health and immunity.
The Microbiome and Digestive Health
The microbiome affects gut health and has a role in intestinal diseases like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease.
Bloating, cramps and abdominal pain may be due to imbalances in gut microbiome. For example, certain types of microbiome bugs produce a lot of gas which contributes to intestinal discomfort.
The microbiome has a role in bloating, cramps and intestinal diseases like IBS and inflammatory bowel disease.
Another way the microbiome supports digestive health is by fermenting dietary fibre and in doing so, creating short chain fatty acids such as butyrate.
Butyrate is the main energy source for colonocytes – the cells lining the digestive system. You need enough butyrate to keep your digestive lining healthy and happy. Without enough butyrate, small gaps in the digestive lining can occur, which allows toxins to enter from your digestive system to your tissues. This can result in symptoms such as diarrhea and/or constipation and food intolerances.
The Microbiome and Body Weight
It is well established that obese people have a very different microbiome compared to lean people. This interesting fact was originally established in 2009 in a first of its kind human study that compared the microbiome of obese and lean twins.
There are large differences in the types of bugs present in the obese microbiome versus their lean counterparts, but also differences in diversity. Lean people have greater diversity in their microbiome, whereas obese people have significantly less diversity.
Of those microbiome bugs that are most different between obese and lean people, the majority are involved in carbohydrate, lipid and amino acid metabolism. This suggests that the microbiome of obese people may lead to altered metabolism, which could be a contributing factor to obesity – a sort of chicken and egg scenario.
F.prau has been proposed as a potential treatment for obesity…The best way to increase the amount of F.prau in your microbiome is to eat kiwifruit daily.
A type of microbiome bug called F.prau has been proposed as a potential treatment for obesity. Research supports a strong link between greater abundance of F.prau and lower BMI and better glucose control.
The best way to increase the amount of F.prau in your microbiome is to eat kiwifruit daily. For greater convenience and consistency, our Kiwi-Klenz supplement is an excellent choice. The ingredients in Kiwi-Klenz are clinically proven to increase F.prau which may in turn support weight management.
The Microbiome and Mental Health
In a recent groundbreaking study, researchers analyzed 26 published studies to look for links between the microbiome and depression. They showed a strong association between the microbiome and mental well-being.
There is bidirectional communication between the gut and brain, and this is referred to as the “gut-brain axis”. The vagus nerve is the main highway of communication between the gut and the brain. Its most important job is to take information from the organs, especially the gut, to the brain. It also takes information from the brain to the gut, hence being bidirectional.
Researchers showed a strong association between the microbiome and mental well-being.
It is thought that certain ‘bad’ bugs in the microbiome trigger production of inflammatory molecules called cytokines. Cytokines send signals via the vagus nerve to release cortisol – the stress hormone. Elevated cortisol affects many parts of the body, including mental health. This is believed to be the way the microbiome is linked to anxiety and depression.
In contrast, a healthy microbiome contains an abundance of types of ‘good’ bugs that produce anti-inflammatory molecules, sending signals of peace and calm to the brain via the vagus nerve, with positive effects on mental health.
The Microbiome & Immunity
About 70% of your immune function is in the gut and this is largely due to the microbiome. The microbiome contributes to immunity in several ways. For example, the bugs in the microbiome produce antimicrobial proteins and break down potentially toxic compounds. The microbiome also synthesizes certain vitamins and amino acids, which the immune system needs, including vitamin B12 and vitamin K.
Kiwi-Klenz provides digestive support with a strong sidekick of immune support by increasing the production of butyrate.
Certain helpful bugs break down so called prebiotic fibres into short chain fatty acids and these substances have been shown to stimulate immune cell activity. The prebiotic fibres found in Kiwi-Klenz are clinically proven to increase the level of an important short chain fatty acid called butyrate.
Having healthy levels of butyrate in your digestive system is not only beneficial for reducing digestive symptoms, but it also supports healthy immunity. Hence Kiwi-Klenz provides digestive support with a strong sidekick of immune support by increasing the production of butyrate.
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Look After your Microbiome
The best way to look after your microbiome is by eating a variety of foods that are high in fibre. While some foods provide more fibre than others, instead of focusing on specifics, our suggestion is to focus on making simple changes to your diet that are easy to achieve. Start by adding one extra serve of vegetables daily to your diet and you’ll be amazed how good you feel!
Kiwi Klenz by Xtend-Life is another good option for increasing your fibre intake. It is packed with prebiotic fibre from both green and gold kiwifruit and contains added ingredients such as Vitamin C and Vitamin D for extra immune support.
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Rinninella E, et al. What is the Healthy Gut Microbiota Composition? A Changing Ecosystem across Age, Environment, Diet, and Diseases. Microorganisms. 2019 Jan 10;7(1):14.
Limbana T, Khan F, Eskander N. Gut Microbiome and Depression: How Microbes Affect the Way We Think. Cureus. 2020 Aug 23;12(8):e9966.
Breit S, et al. Vagus Nerve as Modulator of the Brain-Gut Axis in Psychiatric and Inflammatory Disorders. Front Psychiatry. 2018 Mar 13;9:44.
Turnbaugh PJ, et al. A core gut microbiome in obese and lean twins. Nature. 2009 Jan 22;457(7228):480-4.
Maioli TU, et al. Possible Benefits of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii for Obesity-Associated Gut Disorders. Front Pharmacol. 2021 Dec 2;12:740636.
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