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Gut microbiota and our health: What role do microorganisms plan in our overall health and lifestyle?

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

What is the gut microbiota?

The gut microbiome is found within our digestive tract. It is considered the second brain of the body that consists of a complex arrangement of bacteria and other microorganisms communicating and interacting with one another [1].


Where is the human gut microbiome found?

  • Stomach

  • Small intestine

  • Large intestine

Factors affecting the gut microbiome?

Positive factors affecting the gut microbiome

  • Birth

  • Breastfeeding [2]

  • Diet (fibre, prebiotics, probiotics, etc…)

  • Non-endurance exercise

  • Sleep

  • Geography – associated with dietary differences

Negative factors affecting the gut microbiome

  • Antibiotics

  • Stress

  • Endurance exercise

  • Jetlag, disrupts daily microbiota fluctuations

  • Smoking

  • Infections – change gut microbiota concentrations

  • Medications (e.g. antibiotics, NSAIDs, etc…)

The gut microbiome is associated with adverse health effects

When the gut microbiome is disrupted, then disease can occur.


Some adverse health conditions caused by an unbalanced gut microbiome are:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) [3]

  • Ulcerative colitis (UC) [4, 5]

  • Crohn’s disease (CD) [6, 7]

  • Obesity [8-10]

  • Diabetes [11-13]

  • Liver disease [14, 15]

  • Chronic heart disease [16, 17]

  • Cancers (e.g. stomach, intestine and prostate cancers) [18, 19]

  • HIV [20]

  • Autism [21, 22]

How to manage a healthy gut microbiome?

The gut microbiome is replaced every 3-4 days. Therefore, managing a healthy microbiome is a long-term commitment to your digestive health.


It is encouraged that a varied diet of many food groups is encouraged.


Consumption of the following aid in the healthy colonisation of the gut microbiome:

  • Pre-biotic: fruits (grapes, pomegranate, cranberries)

  • Fructo-oligosaccharides

  • Inulin (chicory root, garlic, bananas, onions)

  • Probiotic supplements

  • High fibre

  • Fermented foods (yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, tempeh) [23]

It is important to understand what causes disease so that we can make conscious decisions to minimise our risks.


Let's prevent disease rather than treat one

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Reference:

[1] Jia Q, Li H, Zhou H, Zhang X, Zhang A, Xie Y, et al. Role and Effective Therapeutic Target of Gut Microbiota in Heart Failure. Cardiovascular Therapeutics. 2019;2019:1-10.

[2] Musilova S, Rada V, Vlkova E, Bunesova V. Beneficial effects of human milk oligosaccharides on gut microbiota. Beneficial microbes. 2014;5(3):273-83.

[3] Macfarlane S, Steed H, Macfarlane GT. Intestinal bacteria and inflammatory bowel disease. Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 2009;46(1):25-54.

[4] Cummings JH, Macfarlane GT, Macfarlane S. Intestinal bacteria and ulcerative colitis. Curr Issues Intest Microbiol. 2003;4(1):9-20.

[5] Bullock NR, Booth JC, Gibson GR. Comparative composition of bacteria in the human intestinal microflora during remission and active ulcerative colitis. Curr Issues Intest Microbiol. 2004;5(2):59-64.

[6] Bhattacharjee A, editor ORAL MICRO-PARTICULATE COLON TARGETED DRUG DELIVERY SYSTEM FOR THE TREATMENT OF CROHN'S DISEASE: A REVIEW2012.

[7] Seksik P. Alterations of the dominant faecal bacterial groups in patients with Crohn's disease of the colon. Gut. 2003;52(2):237-42.

[8] Ding S, Chi MM, Scull BP, Rigby R, Schwerbrock NMJ, Magness S, et al. High-Fat Diet: Bacteria Interactions Promote Intestinal Inflammation Which Precedes and Correlates with Obesity and Insulin Resistance in Mouse. PLoS ONE. 2010;5(8):e12191.

[9] Hildebrandt MA, Hoffmann C, Sherrill–Mix SA, Keilbaugh SA, Hamady M, Chen YY, et al. High-Fat Diet Determines the Composition of the Murine Gut Microbiome Independently of Obesity. Gastroenterology. 2009;137(5):1716-24.e2.

[10] Armougom F, Henry M, Vialettes B, Raccah D, Raoult D. Monitoring Bacterial Community of Human Gut Microbiota Reveals an Increase in Lactobacillus in Obese Patients and Methanogens in Anorexic Patients. PLoS ONE. 2009;4(9):e7125.

[11] Hara N, Alkanani AK, Ir D, Robertson CE, Wagner BD, Frank DN, et al. The role of the intestinal microbiota in type 1 diabetes. Clin Immunol. 2013;146(2):112-9.

[12] Brown CT, Davis-Richardson AG, Giongo A, Gano KA, Crabb DB, Mukherjee N, et al. Gut Microbiome Metagenomics Analysis Suggests a Functional Model for the Development of Autoimmunity for Type 1 Diabetes. PLoS ONE. 2011;6(10):e25792.

[13] Amar J, Chabo C, Waget A, Klopp P, Vachoux C, Bermúdez‐Humarán LG, et al. Intestinal mucosal adherence and translocation of commensal bacteria at the early onset of type 2 diabetes: molecular mechanisms and probiotic treatment. EMBO Molecular Medicine. 2011;3(9):559-72.

[14] Kajiya M, Sato K, Silva MJ, Ouhara K, Do PM, Shanmugam KT, et al. Hydrogen from intestinal bacteria is protective for Concanavalin A-induced hepatitis. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2009;386(2):316-21.

[15] Mutlu E, Keshavarzian A, Engen P, Forsyth CB, Sikaroodi M, Gillevet P. Intestinal Dysbiosis: A Possible Mechanism of Alcohol-Induced Endotoxemia and Alcoholic Steatohepatitis in Rats. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2009;33(10):1836-46.

[16] Zhang Y-J, Li S, Gan R-Y, Zhou T, Xu D-P, Li H-B. Impacts of Gut Bacteria on Human Health and Diseases. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2015;16(12):7493-519.

[17] Krack A, Sharma R, Figulla HR, Anker SD. The importance of the gastrointestinal system in the pathogenesis of heart failure. Eur Heart J. 2005;26(22):2368-74.

[18] Weir TL, Manter DK, Sheflin AM, Barnett BA, Heuberger AL, Ryan EP. Stool Microbiome and Metabolome Differences between Colorectal Cancer Patients and Healthy Adults. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(8):e70803.

[19] Chu F-F, Esworthy RS, Chu PG, Longmate JA, Huycke MM, Wilczynski S, et al. Bacteria-Induced Intestinal Cancer in Mice with Disrupted <b> <i>Gpx1</i> </b> and <b> <i>Gpx2</i> </b> Genes. Cancer Research. 2004;64(3):962-8.

[20] Gori A, Rizzardini G, Van'T Land B, Amor KB, Van Schaik J, Torti C, et al. Specific prebiotics modulate gut microbiota and immune activation in HAART-naive HIV-infected adults: results of the “COPA” pilot randomized trial. Mucosal Immunology. 2011;4(5):554-63.

[21] Finegold SM. State of the art; microbiology in health and disease. Intestinal bacterial flora in autism. Anaerobe. 2011;17(6):367-8.

[22] Song Y, Liu C, Finegold SM. Real-Time PCR Quantitation of Clostridia in Feces of Autistic Children. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 2004;70(11):6459-65.

[23] Carvalho NMD, Costa EM, Silva S, Pimentel L, Fernandes TH, Pintado ME. Fermented Foods and Beverages in Human Diet and Their Influence on Gut Microbiota and Health. Fermentation. 2018;4(4):90.


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