What Is The Gut Microbiota?
We examine the crucial link between the gut microbiota and your overall health and wellbeing.
What is gut microbiota
Gut microbiota is composed of literally tens of trillions of microorganisms residing in the gut, containing over 1,000 unique bacterial strains composed of over 3 million genes.
Previously, gut microbiota was typically referred to as ‘gut flora’ until scientists decided upon this more scientifically coined terminology.
Roughly one-third of our gut microbiota are common to most humans, while the remaining two-thirds are unique to each of us. It’s arguably the most widespread genetic difference between all human beings and needs to be treated with individual care and nourished holistically for optimal health.
Where is it located
As the name suggests, the gut microbiota is located in, well, the gut.
Staggeringly, the microbiota can weigh up to 2kg of your total body weight.
What role does it play in health
Because the intestine is exposed to the environment in a similar way that human skin and the lungs are, protecting and nurturing its condition is of utmost importance to humans.
Our gut microbiota plays an integral role in the following functions:
- Immune system
- Vitamin production (specifically Vitamin K & Vitamin A)
- Combating infections and bad bacterial microorganisms
The gut is commonly referred to as the ‘second brain’ of the body amongst scientific researchers, given the crucial role it plays in cell signalling and overall health.
Given the role it plays in our overall health and how it maintains bodily function, scientists now consider the gut to act as an organ.
When does it develop
The development of gut microbiota starts immediately at birth. Newborn babies digestive tracts are rapidly colonised by microorganisms from the mother (skin, vaginal, breast, etc.) and external factors such as the environment also have an influence on its development.
From day three, the composition of the gut microbiota is dependent on how the baby is fed. Critically, during this period, breastmilk has been shown to produce healthier microorganisms than infant-formulas, with a correlation being drawn between mothers who breastfeed and those who don’t linked to a slew of health benefits and complications in later life. The link is fascinating and still being explored to this day extensively, but it all stems from the impact on the gut microbiota.
By the age of three years old, the microbiota becomes less susceptible to change and more stable, similar to an adults and progressing at a steadier rate throughout life, bearing any dramatic dietary or lifestyle changes.
The Evolution of Gut Microbiota
Our gut microbiota ages and adapts according to our lifestyle and dietary influences. As an example, interestingly, Japanese people produce specific enzymes that allow them to digest seaweed (due to their diet), in ways that other populations couldn’t who don’t have a prevalent diet in marine species.
A loss of balance in gut microbiota is called ‘dysbiosis’. Dysbiosis is linked to numerous health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and various allergies to name just a few.
Given these facts, it’s essential that we find ways to nourish the gut microbiota to optimal health.
Kombucha and gut microbiota
Scientific studies have shown that the presence of prebiotics and probiotics help to nurture the gut microbiota, acting as food for positive bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.
Fermented foods rich in probiotics such as natural yoghurt, kimchi, and, of course, kombucha, help to promote the presence of ‘good bacteria’ in the colon that may prevent excessive inflammation, reducing the risk of disease and other ailments.
Given the gut microbiota’s critical role it plays in our overall health, it makes sense to take precautions against any potential health risks.
A good way to combat toxins in the environment and your food is with 1 serving of kombucha per day to get the necessary probiotics and organic acids that can nourish your gut microbiota, promoting the presence of good bacteria.