Restoring the gut microbiota balance: Why is diversity so important?

There are more than 10,000 different microbial species that are known to inhabit the human ecosystem. Following scientific investigation into the human microbiome, we know now that the cells in the microbiome significantly outnumber those in the human genome – our collective DNA. While originally it was believed that microbes outnumbered human cells by 10:1, this is now thought to be much closer to 1:1 with 1.3 microbial cells for every one human cell. The largest population of these micro-organisms, approximately 100 trillion, exist in the human gastrointestinal tract and collectively forms the gut microbiota.

Due to its unique composition, the gut microbiota can be easily influenced through diet, cultural and environmental factors, impacting the way it regulates metabolic processes, cholesterol, inflammation and the body’s immune responses. When these micro-organisms live in relative balance, it’s known as ‘normobiosis’. This routine state can be achieved when individuals follow a healthy lifestyle through eating a balanced diet, performing regular exercise and making sure they get enough sleep each night. However, not all routines can be sustained long-term. External stressors also influence the gut microbiota with many microbiologists discovering new evidence that indicates a relationship between the gut, neurobiochemistry and emotional behaviour, including stress, sleep deprivation, anxiety and depression.

This article is available in full in the April-May 2021 issue of Nutraceuticals Now

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