A human microbiome is a complex ecosystem, and it is composed of a microbial organ within that person’s gastrointestinal tract. A person’s intestinal microbiome is dominated by anaerobic bacteria and includes about 500-1000 species with collective genomes estimated to have 100 times more genes than the human genome. Alterations in the intestinal ecology affect a person’s health, and studies have shown that maintaining a healthy microbiome is a key to staying healthy.
Research has recently suggested that a healthy lifestyle limiting the consumption of processed foods, a diverse diet, consumption of an adequate amount of dietary fiber, avoiding restricted diets all facilitate a healthy microbiome. Research suggests that seafood such as invertebrates and marine seaweeds are all rich in dietary fibers, which can help maintain symbiosis for the gut.
Other research findings suggest that gut microbiota alterations caused by unhealthy lifestyle factors and poor nutrition may contribute to the pathogenesis of a broad spectrum of diseases such as diabetes, obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Mellitus, cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.
Alterations to a person’s gut microbiota start during the earliest stages of life. During infancy, any disruption to the development of microbiota can help increase the risk of metabolic and immune disease when older. For the elderly, a reduction of microbial diversity is often connected to a shift to a monotonous diet. The loss of diversity in food may also increase the chances of frailty and inflammation.
Research concerning obese patients suggests that they can shape their intestinal microbiome by following strategic long-term dietary interventions. The research of changes in the microbiota of obese patients after a year of eating a low-fat or a Mediterranean diet, high complex carbohydrates for obese patients found that the diets protect against type 2 diabetes. The protection is obtained from increasing the abundance of Roseburia genus and F. prausnitzii respectively.
The microbiome is one of the most important parts of our body, and it can be altered by many different factors that lead to significant effects on our health. Seeking the help of a functional medicine physician with a focus on diet, lifestyle and, if needed, proper supplementation is key to restoring your own personal microbiome.