11 things you didn't know about the microbiome

11 things you didn't know about the microbiome

What are some interesting facts and figures about the microbiome that people don't know about?

There are over 1000 different bacterial species living on and in the average adult.

70% of your immune system can be found in your digestive tract, where most of your bacteria resides.

Our bacterial fingerprint is even more unique than our DNA.

Our microbiome, in total, can weigh up to two kilograms.

Some animals actively alter their microbiome. Young iguanas, for instance, eat soil or faeces to tailor their microbiome to their current diet.

What is it made up of?

The human microbiome consists of bacteria in the gut and other body parts, but also includes many other microbes, from fungi and viruses to lesser-known names such as protists and archaea.

Of the bacteria, which are the most dominant in humans?

The composition of the microbiome varies from culture to culture, and actually varies by person and body part, but we know best what's in the gut of a healthy person. This community is mainly composed of bacteria from two phyla - Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. These make up about 80 to 90 percent of our total microbiome.

How does bacteria survive in the gastrointestinal system?

You might imagine the acidic environment of the stomach as a desolate place, but acid has little fear of many types of bacteria. For example, Lactobacillus strains produce lactic acid as part of their normal operation.

Is the microbiome just in your gut?

While your gut contains the most abundant and diverse bacterial populations, your entire body is home to a variety of microbial life, especially in the skin, mouth, and genitourinary tract.

Who discovered or first reported the microbiome?

The term "microbiome" is a relatively recent invention, but back in the 1860s, Anthony van Leeuwenhoek used a specially designed microscope to observe the diversity of bacteria in and around him.

What are some of the things that can have an adverse effect on your microbiome?

Many external factors can affect the diversity of the microbiome. Antibiotics work by reducing the reproduction of harmful bacteria, but in the process deplete the population of useful bacteria. Stress can also alter the composition of the microbiome, reducing the number of potentially beneficial lactic acid bacteria. Fiber fuels gut bacteria, so a diet low in fiber and high in processed foods may be detrimental to a healthy microbiome.

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