Our gut microbiome works quietly, but governs health far more than most realize. From immune strength to vitamin supply – what the microbiome can do and what weakens it.
The body consists of millions of body cells – that was taught until recently. However, research in recent years has shown that this is not true at all. Because more than half of our cells are not human, but belong to bacteria, fungi and viruses, which primarily colonize our intestines.
The intestinal flora, scientifically correct the microbiome of the intestine, consists of a variety of these microorganisms. And that’s a good thing, because their complex cooperation enables many bodily functions that would not be possible without this miracle of the microbiome.
Some of the important roles of the microbiome in the gut:
In order for the microbiome to be able to optimally exploit its abilities, its composition of bacteria, viruses and fungi should be in the right balance. Not only is a particular variety, i.e. diversity of the different microbes important, but also the composition. Bacteria make up the majority of the microbiome: up to 100 trillion and 500 types of bacteria are possible. All intestinal microbes can be divided into:
If the microbiome is imbalanced (dysbiosis), the interaction between the individual groups does not work well. This is often the cause of diseases and deficiency symptoms. Today we know that immune deficiency, but also irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, allergies, obesity and diabetes could be related.
But what disturbs the microbiome? Often these are factors that are simply habits and are part of our personal lifestyle, which we don’t particularly pay attention to. What it can be:
1. Preference for white flour products
If you eat a lot of white bread, burger buns, sweet pastries, your body is not getting enough fiber. Because the ground, white flour only contains the inside of the grain, but not its shell. The useful bacteria, which utilize dietary fibers in the microbiome and make them partially usable, then no longer have any “food” and decrease – with fatal effects on the healthy balance in the microbiome.
2. Fast food, ready meals and convenience food
This makes every meal quick, but the products can also quickly weaken the microbiome. Because the food often contains a lot of sugar, salt, unfavorable fats and artificial additives. All of this reduces the “good” intestinal bacteria, unfavorable ones can spread unhindered.
3. Better not to move too much
Unfavorable in several respects. Too little physical activity is bad for your health, that’s a known fact. However, only a few people are probably aware that lack of exercise can also be a risk factor for dysbiosis and thus generally weaken health. The fact is: athletes are usually characterized by a better, more diverse microbiome than non-sports people.
4. Certain medications such as antibiotics
These medicines act quickly against bacteria, but not only against harmful ones, but sometimes also against beneficial ones. The microbiome becomes imbalanced.
Smoking damages the bronchi and lungs and affects the blood vessels, as most smokers know. But above all the microbiome suffers from the toxins from the smoke. In particular, the cheap, anti-inflammatory lactobacilli are often found in much too low quantities in the microbiome of smokers. For this reason, stopping smoking is an important preventive step – albeit easier said than done.
On the way to quitting smoking, e-cigarettes or the so-called tobacco heaters, for example from IQOS, can be an alternative. Because the latter work very differently from cigarettes, but still deliver nicotine: the tobacco is only heated and not burned as with conventional cigarettes. Significantly lower temperatures are required for evaporation than for combustion. That’s why the vapor contains more than 90 percent fewer harmful chemicals than cigarette smoke, while still containing nicotine.