World Microbiome Day 2021

24th June 2021

On June 27th Guts UK celebrates World Microbiome Day each year. Today we’re answering all your questions about the microbiome!

What is the gut microbiota?

This refers to all the microorganisms that live inside your gut, like bacteria. The majority of microorganisms within the body live within the large bowel. In fact, there are hundreds of trillions of microorganisms living within your gut! Your gut microbiota is as unique to you as your fingerprint is, no two microbiota are the same.

Why are the microorganisms living in my gut so important?

The microorganisms in your gut fight off harmful organisms. They also digest fibre that we as humans wouldn’t be able to digest without them. Your gut microbiota plays such a huge part in the body’s role helping the immune system fight pathogens.

A greater diversity of microorganisms in the gut directly correlates with gut and overall health and wellbeing. Diversity is key!

Can I increase the diversity of microbes in my gut by eating differently?

Yes! Diet and lifestyle are two of the biggest factors impacting the variety of bacteria in your gut. The more diverse your diet is, the more diverse your microbiota will be. What you can eat can actually impact your gut microbiota within 24 hours. Here’s how you can start eating your way to a more diverse gut microbiota, from the Gut Microbiota for Health:

  • Include dietary fibres that can be used by gut microbes. Fibre is food for the bacteria in your gut, so make sure you’re feeding them! Include legumes, root vegetables, onions, garlic, bananas, artichokes and cooked and cooled potatoes.
  • Add probiotic foods such as fermented milk, kefir and yoghurt.
  • Choose a balanced amount of both animal and plant-based proteins. Plant-based include legumes, nuts and seeds. Animal-based proteins include meat, fish, shellfish, eggs and dairy products.
  • Include foods rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 foods include walnuts, seeds and oily fish. Omega-6 foods include avocado, nuts, seeds and some vegetable oils.
  • Eat plenty of vitamins and minerals too. These are found in a range of animal foods, fruit and vegetables. They’re also found in wholegrain cereals, nuts and legumes like beans or lentils.

Why is research into the gut microbiome so important?

The gut microbiome is so diverse. Because there are trillions of bacteria living in our gut, there huge numbers of strains of bacteria to learn more about. 

Recent studies have shown that some of the earliest changes that lead to Parkinson’s disease could actually begin with the microbes in the gut. Additionally, research has shown in animal studies that if you swap ‘poo’ from one mouse to another, you can actually transfer mental health conditions like anxiety and depression alongside the gut microbiota, which is absolutely fascinating.

These recent research discoveries highlight just how much there is to yet discover about the microbes that live in their gut, how they can impact our overall health and may even lead to future treatments.

About Guts UK:

Guts UK is the charity for the digestive system from top to tail.

People are suffering. People are dying. All because of a lack of knowledge about our guts. Guts UK exists to change that.

Our guts have been underfunded, understaffed and undervalued for decades. Together, we will join forces and bring about important change in this misunderstood area of health.

With new knowledge, we will end the pain and suffering for the millions affected by digestive diseases. Guts UK’s research, information and awareness leads to earlier diagnoses, kinder treatments and ultimately, a cure. Please consider giving £3 a month to Guts UK. With your help, we will get to grips with guts.

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