Are we mostly bacteria and not humans due to our microbiota?
Let me introduce you to our microbiota (microflora) and our microbiome. Microbiota is a community of all microorganisms IN and ON our bodies, that are literally sharing our body space with us. Some of these bacteria are commensal bacteria that are just there. Others are known symbionts that we know are doing something good for us and we are helping them (or at least should be helping by providing food) to exist. And some are opportunistic pathogens, than can be activated if our immune system is not functioning well, however if immune defense is in order then their population is under control and these pathogenic bacteria are not dangerous at all.
Gut microbiota (also known as gut flora or microflora) is the population of microbes residing in our intestine. There are at least 1000 different bacterial species present in our intestine and according to some studies about 100 trillions of bacterial cells vs about 10 trillion human cells. This means that we are 90% made of bacterial cells, most of which reside in our intestines. The very recent study led by Weizmann Institute of Science’s Ron Milo states that there are around 30 trillion human cells vs 40 trillion bacterial cells, which still means than more that 50% of us are bacterial cells. Isn’t that fascinating? Microbota is pretty unique, only 30% of all species are shared between different individuals. The rest of the microbial composition is individual and can potentially be our “identy print”.
Microbiome is combination of all microbial genes, which is about 1 million different genes, whereas human genomes has only 23 000 genes. And again microbes’ genes outnumber our own.
So what are they there for? What do they do in our gut? These are some of their functions:
- Gut bacteria present in our intestines are naturally designed to fight infections and protect our bodies via producing antimicrobial substances
- They are protecting us from toxins and other chemicals that get into our bodies with food
- They improve ones immune system
- They digest food, especially if it is rich in fiber
- Some of them produce vitamins and minerals
- They improve mental health
- They may help improve social behaviour
- They may help to maintain healthy weigh
- They help with allergies and food sensitivities
- They maintain our cardiovascular health in balance
Most people, including many physicians, do not realize that at least 80 % of your immune system is located in your gut, making a healthy digestive system a major focal point if you want to maintain optimal health. When all your good intestinal bacteria are in balance your body is in balance too. Once something shifts the balance of your intestinal bacteria a number of health issues can occur. Such disorders as allergies, atopic dermatitis, asthma, Candida infection, type 1 diabetes, irritable bowel disease, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, gastroenteritis, obesity and colorectal cancer have all been linked to dysfunctional gut microbiota.
If you are seriously interested in learning more about your microbiota and considering making changes to the way you live you want to test your microbiome by choosing one of the following services I usually recommend to my clients:
- UBIOME has been on the US market for a while and is providing with the great quality and great deal of information. They are using 16S rRNA gene sequencing in their UBIOME EXPLORE test to detect genera and species of the microbes in stool samples. Raw data is very easily accessible from one’s personal account. I can use provided raw data to test the quality of the sequencing. Ubiome service is available all over the world for extra shipping fee. Dues to the number of requests the company is receiving they are extremely busy and therefore it may take months before you receive your results. So if you have plenty of time and patience this test may be for you. To receive 15% discount you can follow this link and use special code – MYGUTMATTERS – at checkout.
- There is another company that is detecting microbes, viruses (bad virus and good viruses like bacteriophages), eukarya (yeasts and even parasites!!!) and what they are actually doing in your gut (not potentially doing but really doing at the moment of collecting the sample) – it’s Viome. These guys are not using 16S rRNA gene sequencing, but instead they are sequencing the actual isolated from your stool RNA molecule. This means they are looking at the transcriptome – basically all the genes that are currently expressed in your biome. So this technique allows to find out not only who lives in your gut but also what all these living creatures are doing there. Right now there is no other company that provides even similar service. Please use this affiliated link to order Viome test.
- If you live in Russia, the only available service they have is provided by a new company called Atlas (Атлас). They are very new on Russia’s market however they have an outstanding service and provide fast results. To receive 500 rubbles discount please use my affiliate code – mygutmatters.
To receive all the benefits of working with me, highly qualified PhD scientist one-on-one, you can check all the options for private consultations here. Let’s get on the path of a balanced microbiota and feeling your best!