You likely know that your immune system is your best defense against disease. But what constitutes the immune system and how can you support it?
Approximately 80% of your immune system resides in your gut and is largely controlled by your gut microbiome.
Learn about your gut microbiome and what harms it, what helps it, and how to support it to boost your immunity, vitality and longevity.
What Constitutes Your Microbiome?
The human microbiome is made up of microbes, mostly bacteria with some yeasts, fungi and other microbes, that live in and on the human body. The gut houses the vast majority of microbes, some of which are referred to as probiotics.
While there are over 10,000 different species of microbes, most of our bodies host between 100 and 1000 species. The composition of your microbiome is unique to your body and constitutes the bulk of your immune system.
Interestingly, your body’s microbes outnumber human cells three to one, but collectively weigh only about 6 pounds. Our bodies have about 37 trillion human cells (skin cells, blood cells, bone, etc.) and 100 trillion non‐human microbes.
Why is Your Microbiome Important?
In addition to regulating the immune system, your microbiome:
helps break down food and extract nutrients
secretes chemicals to regulate mood including dopamine and serotonin
regulates inflammation in our bodies
regulates the way we store fat
regulates the way we balance levels of glucose in the blood
regulates the way we respond to gut hormones that makes us feel hungry or full
regulates how much energy we extract from food
Dis-ease can be a sign of microbiome imbalance.
A Balanced Microbiome is Crucial
When our microbiome is balanced, containing more healthy than unhealthy microbes, then our immunity, overall health and sense of well-being is supported. This balance eases digestion and reduces the presence of undigested food particles that can lead to chronic inflammation throughout the body. In addition, this balance reduces the overgrowth of unhealthy microbes and their resulting toxins and acids that cause irritation and inflammation in the gut that promote malabsorption, malnourishment and intestinal disorders.
Is Your Microbiome Out of Balance?
According to Modern Alternative Mama, if your gut microbiome is unbalanced or inadequate, you may experience:
Other hormonal imbalances
Long/more severe illnesses (takes forever to ‘get over’ things)
Frequent sugar cravings
Weight gain/inability to lose weight
How to Support your Microbiome
To support your gut microbiome, consider subsequent articles on topics including:
What can cause harm to your healthy, beneficial bacteria?
What are the roles of enzymes and hydrochloric acid?
How can you support and replenish beneficial bacteria?
Prebiotics, resistant starches, live cultures and fermented foods
To learn more, subscribe to Dr. Axe to read: The Human Microbiome: How It Works + a Diet for Gut Health