The Microbiome: Does It Control You, or Do You Control It?

The microbiome is involved in many physiological processes throughout one’s life and largely determines its quality. If you want to have a good life, read on!

Dr. Irene

pediatrician, otolaryngologist, phoniatrician

It’s always been common knowledge that the human genome is the only information carrier in the human body that helps shape it and regulates life. Recently, a large number of studies have been carried out, which prove that the "voice" of the "host" cells of the body is merely part of a complex ensemble.

Everyone knows that microorganisms live in the human body. For a long time, it was believed that they mainly inhabit the intestines and help digest food. However, it turns out that the number of cells in the microbiome actually exceeds the number of human cells.

Each cell produces various biologically active substances, and their receptors are found in organs and tissues, including the brain. Thus, a set of microorganisms participates in many physiological processes throughout human life thanks to their interaction with the cells of the human host. Overall, what role does your microbiome play?

It reacts against bacteria and builds immunity

The microorganisms that inhabit our body help protect against pathogenic microflora and in carrying out vital functions. Most human microorganisms are found in the gastrointestinal tract, where they benefit digestion and perform other functions including producing vitamins, contributing to the formation of the immune system, supporting intestinal cells, and even affecting the host’s behavior.

Besides that, groups of microorganisms inhabit the skin, mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, and genitals. Currently, there are more than 1,000 identified different types of microorganisms that can be found in the human gastrointestinal tract. In the intestinal microbiota alone, more than 3 million genes have been identified. These carry information regarding the shaping and maintenance of the vital activity of microorganisms. According to the latest research, the human genome includes about 300,000 genes.

It determines your health for many years to come

The intestinal microbiome begins to form inside the uterus and changes throughout life. Its correct formation in early childhood and in the future plays a crucial role in maintaining health.

Antibiotic exposure, even for short periods of time, and especially during intrauterine development and childhood, has a long-term effect on the microbiome. The latter can in fact subsequently increase the risk of developing a number of pathologies, which are most connected to allergic diseases and metabolic syndromes.

Studies involving thousands of children have found a link between antibiotic use during the first year of life and the risk of developing bronchial asthma by 6-7 years. There is evidence of an increased risk of developing bronchial asthma in preschool children with mothers who received antibiotics in the third trimester of pregnancy.

Researchers from Finland found that the presence of macrolides in children aged 2-7 years leads to the formation of a peculiar microbiota profile, which can be linked to the development of bronchial asthma later on in life or an increase in body mass index (BMI). The connection between antibiotic use in the first year of life and an increase in BMI in boys aged 5-8 years was also reflected in British research, where the authors emphasized the role of the microbiome in the regulation of body weight.

After childbirth, the microbiota of newborns is naturally populated by the bacteria of the mother's birth canal. In newborns (after the cesarean section), the microbiota gets populated mainly by bacteria inhabiting the skin of an adult, and streptococci become the dominant species in the microbiota of these children. This circumstance may lead to the development of infections in childhood.

It changes with you

Everyone’s microbiome is unique and depends on diet, physical activity, and environmental conditions. How can you take care of this complex microbiological community?

You must ensure that only quality food gets into the intestines. Our bodies may not be able to cope with large, poorly processed pieces of food. Plus, putrefactive microflora will replace them, which leads to the accumulation of toxins, deterioration of the digestive function, and disruption of the activity of all organs and systems. Do the following to ensure this does not happen:

  • Check on your food intake process.
  • Prepare the digestive tract by deeply breathing in and out of the stomach three times before eating.
  • Chew your food properly, as the digestion process begins in the mouth.
  • Do not drink large amounts of water with food — otherwise, excessively diluted gastric juice will not be able to work. Coldwater and fat can also create large lumps, which greatly complicates digestion.
  • Try not to mix carbohydrates and proteins, as different enzymes are needed for their digestion.

Try not to be distracted while eating. Digestion is a complex process that requires full attention so the body can work well.

It is also important to monitor the quality of the food being consumed. Our micro-helpers need fiber (fruits and vegetables). A large amount of sugar, animal fats, wheat products, and industrially produced fermented milk products of poor quality can destroy the balance in the microbiota.

23 March 2021

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