The Microbiome, Microbiota and Gut-flora

In the context of digestive health, collectively the above terms are often referred to as the “microbiome”, defined as a fluctuating community of microorganisms that reside in our gastrointestinal or GI tract, that protect us against germs, help break down food to release energy and produce vitamins.

The human microbiome is thought to have an important influence on our immune systems and plays a role in auto-immune diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and others. Imbalances in the microbiome are also thought by some researchers to contribute toward obesity and modify certain neurotransmitters in our brains that are linked to schizophrenia and depression.

The gut flora is the human flora of microbes that normally live in the digestive tract which perform a number of useful functions for their hosts. The bacterial flora of the human gut contains diverse micro organisms that help in digestion, the production of vitamins, and elimination of potentially harmful bacteria. The digestive activity performed by these bacteria is equal to that of a virtual organ, leading to gut bacteria being termed a “forgotten” organ.

Research into the microbiome is in its infancy, but preliminary findings suggest our microbiomes are becoming increasingly unbalanced due to:

  • Dietary change through consumption of processed foods
  • Exposure to powerful antibiotics, both medicinal and in food we consume
  • Increased number of C-section deliveries that deprive infants of exposure to vital microorganisms in the birth canal that seed the gastrointestinal tract of the newborn

For more information on The Microbiome, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coeliac_disease

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