Go with your gut feeling...
Your microbiota consists of the resident bacteria, fungi and viruses that live on and in you. It weighs about the same as your brain (a little over 1kg) and is now considered to be a functioning ecosystem that is part of you.
There are trillions of microbes inhabiting your gut, skin, mouth and every other surface of your body. We have up until relatively recently been ignorant of the presence of these resident microbes and are now only realising their influence on our overall health and wellbeing.
They are in a constant state of flux and vary depending on your genetics, your geography and most importantly your diet and lifestyle. We mostly think of the microbes that inhabit the gut wall - but they potentially have huge influence well beyond the gut wall. What is most staggering is the sheer variety of strains, akin to the real estate adage location, location, location - when it comes to gut health it’s DIVERSITY, DIVERSITY, DIVERSITY.
Whether you know about it - or even believe it - you have an intimate relationship with your gut microbiota. If you’re feeling ambivalent at this time about the idea of your gut microbes, you could describe this as a mutually beneficial two-way street with its fair share of tumultuous challenges called “everyday modern life” – stress, sleep, diet and exercise. In this relationship, you provide them with a warm, damp, cosy environment (the gut lumen) for those bacteria wanting a luxury seat, or perhaps just the relatively dry locations of the skin for a mediocre spot to survive.
This incredible and ancient cooperative relationship allows microbes to provide you with:
The ability to digest food properly
Short chain fatty acids
Protection against pathogenic bacteria
Immune system training
A connection between your gut and brain that may influence your mood and behavior
Your specific microbiota is unique to you and the future will be medications and treatments that take into account (or are tailored to) your microbiota.