What Is My Microbiome And Why Does It Matter?

Picture this: an advanced race of aliens come across a human being for the very first time. What would they see? How would they describe us?

No doubt they would study not just our physical appearance but also our genetic makeup to see what’s makes us tick.

They would observe a hybrid organism that is a combination of mammal fused together with ancient microbes in symbiosis.

They would see that the mammalian genes have leveraged the power of ancient microbes to become far more sophisticated than would have been possible alone.

They might even call us a ‘superorganism’.

Genetic Material

A massive shift in our understanding of human biology began to happen around the turn of the 21st century. Scientists were able for the first time to map the entire human genome.

Our genome is made up of DNA, our genetic material, which is essentially the programming for how our bodies are put together and function from moment to moment.

Scientists can now see that there is more than just human DNA in the mix, there is also microbial DNA.

Before this big shift we were aware of microbes living on our skin and inside us. However, the surprise was the sheer quantity and variety.

But how do you measure the quantity and relative importance of human versus microbe within this superorganism? If you do it by weight or physical size, the human part is much bigger and clearly dominates.

However if you measure by number of cells and genetic material, the microbe part is much bigger and appears to dominate. Current estimates are that microbe genes outnumber human genes by 3:1 or as much as 10:1. Remember that genes are what make an organism tick.

microbiome

Symbiosis

Could it be that humans and microbes just happen to exist next to each other, neighbours but not exactly friends? How do we know the relationship is any closer than that?

Surely humans and microbes aren’t fused together in some kind of sinister Frankenstein creation?

As we learned more from scientific studies over the last decade, it gradually became clear that these microbes are not just passengers hitching a ride, but that they are fundamental to how our body functions. (By the way, we’re not unique, this also applies to all other multi-cellular organisms on Earth.)

We are the result of millions of years of evolving together in symbiosis with microbes. It appears that we don’t actually have enough human DNA to perform all the functions our body performs, but are DEPENDENT on the microbial genes.

In other words we human beings are incomplete without microbes!

Built-in Microbes

Breastfeeding is great illustration of this. One of the principal ingredients in human breast milk are HMO’s (human milk oligosaccharides). The interesting thing about HMO’s is that our babies cannot actually digest them. Instead they are food for the baby’s microbes.

A human baby picks up friendly microbes from its mother while passing through the vagina during delivery. These microbes are fundamental to how the baby develops during it’s all-important first few years.

To support the vulnerable little newborn, mother’s milk contains large amounts of food just for the friendly microbes. This ensures that the baby’s microbiome is seeded with the right, friendly microbes, in the process protecting the baby from the wrong, bad microbes.

Mother’s breast milk also contains even more friendly bacteria to top up the ones just seeded into the baby by the vaginal delivery.

The alien race observing us would see that microbes are so fundamental to the human superorganism that they are built into our reproductive process.  Friendly bacteria are planted into the baby and then carefully looked after, from the very first moment we’re born into this world.

Belief-Busting

There’s no question that this is a big change in how we look at the human species. The worldwide scientific and medical community is still getting their collective heads around it.

It’s also clear that this new perspective challenges some dearly-held beliefs, for example:

Old Belief: We are a single independent organism, a human.

Truth: We are actually a hybrid, a holobiont, a superorganism.

Old Belief: Bacteria and other microbes should be wiped out as they make us ill.

Truth: Many bacteria can make us ill, and horribly so, but many – if not more – are HELPFUL AND NECESSARY to us. Take a look at 5 Surprising Things Your Microbiome Does For You

It also raises some important questions:

-What exactly are we, as humans?

-What happens if we remove the ancient microbes from our bodies, in the pursuit of cleanliness?

During the 20th century we waged war on bacteria with the discovery of antibiotics and the drive for more and more cleanliness. Those of us in the West can now enjoy life without many of the nastiest infectious diseases that plagued our ancestors, like leprosy, smallpox, syphilis, cholera, polio and tuberculosis.

However infectious diseases have been replaced by a ton of new ‘non-communicable diseases’ (NCD’s). Instead of killing us horribly and quickly like infectious diseases used to do, they kill us horribly and slowly. Here’s just a few of the most common NCD’s:

  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • cancer
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • Alzheimers
  • autism
  • multiple sclerosis
  • asthma

What’s the connection between our microbiome and these NCD’s? We now know that our old friends, the bacteria, play a fundamental role in how our immune system – and indeed our whole body – works.

If we don’t have enough of our old friends, our gut stops working properly, we get sick and fat, and our brains malfunction.

Recap

What is my microbiome: it’s the name for the microscopic organisms (and their DNA) that live inside us.

Why does it matter? The old assumption was that microbes inside us were just passengers and, at most, helped to keep our poo smooth.

But now we know they are actually fundamental to how our bodies work. Without them, our bodies break down and life is miserable!

LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
WE LOVE TO HEAR YOUR VIEWS AND QUESTIONS!

Whenever you’re ready to become a fully-fledged Gut Geek™ here are 4 ways we can help you heal your gut, get your sh*t together and transform your health

1. Subscribe to receive regular strategies and hacks that you can use TODAY

All our blogposts and social media are focused on bringing simplicity to the baffling world of nutrition and supplements. We also provide easy-peasy action steps that you can use to start seeing immediate improvement. Subscribe to get the very best of our content straight to your inbox!

2. Follow our daily social posts and video stories religiously

Our content is produced in a combination of written posts and video stories, all neatly tied together around the topic of the week. This gives you constant learning in manageable, bite-sized chunks.

3. Join us for a live online workshop

Head to our workshop registration page for info on our next free online training, and get ready to geek out

4. Join our coaching program

There’s nothing like 1-on-1 coaching to massively accelerate your progress and achieve the results you dream about! We’ll create your very own personalised gut-healing roadmap and then guide you through it. Just send us a message telling us a little about your current challenges and what you’d most like help with and we’ll get right back to you.

5 thoughts on “What Is My Microbiome And Why Does It Matter?”

  1. Have you ever considered about adding a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is valuable and all. However just imagine if you added some great images or video clips to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with pics and clips, this site could undeniably be one of the very best in its niche. Terrific blog!

  2. Hey there! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with us so I came to check it out. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Superb blog and brilliant design and style.

Let us know what you think

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share this article

Help spread the word! Every share matters.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin

Other recent blog posts

Weight Loss: Is The Secret In Our Bacteria?

On the face of it there is no obvious connection between the microbes in our gut and being able to lose weight. We know these bacteria help us digest food but so what?

Four Powerful Steps to Reverse Autoimmune

Autoimmune conditions bring misery to an estimated 20% of the population. Conventional wisdom is that they are incurable but many people are beating these conditions by healing their gut. Let’s see how they’re doing it.

Why Cod Liver Oil Is Ridiculously Useful

Opinions are always shifting on which health supplements are best but one perennial favourite is cod liver oil. So what’s the big deal? It turns out that cod liver oil isn’t just Grandma’s favourite. It’s actually a vital supplement for healing our gut.