January 16, 2021
A central part of our research at ZOE is investigating the complex and intricate links between the gut microbiome, the foods we eat, and how they impact overall health.
But what is the gut microbiome and why should you care about it? Here are our top 15 reasons why you should care about your gut.
There more than 100 trillion microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites) that live in your digestive tract, weighing up to 5lbs. That's ten times more bacteria than human cells! Yes, the vast majority of cells in the human body are not human, but are in fact bacteria that coexist peacefully and hitchhike in us. Your gut microbiome behaves a bit like an organ, with each microbe functioning as a chemical factory.
These 'factories' have many roles. Some help extract nutrients from your food and others produce certain vitamins. The makeup of our microbes may explain why people with certain lifestyles are at risk for developing obesity, asthma, and other common diseases and how they influence our metabolism and regulate our immune function.
Want to understand how ZOE can help you understand the right foods for your gut bugs? Click here for our free evaluation.
Through our research we have discovered that even identical twins, who share the same DNA, can have very different gut microbiomes. From the moment you are born, your gut is developing and evolving.
The foods you eat not only nourish your body, but also feed the trillions of microbes that live inside your gut. There is a lot of evidence to show that the gut microbiome is strongly influenced by what, when and how much we eat. When you alter what you eat, your gut microbiome can change quickly. This is exciting because it suggests that the gut microbiome is a potential target that can be improved through our food choices, to improve our health.
Research suggests that gut microbes influence blood sugar responses after meals. In addition to this, our research suggests that the gut microbiome plays an even more important role in blood fat responses after meals. For the first time, we've found links between specific gut bugs and metabolic responses. For example, having a microbiome rich in Prevotella copri and Blastocystis species was associated with healthier blood sugar responses after eating. Other species, such as Eubacterium eligens and Roseburia sp. CAG:182, were linked to healthier blood fat responses and lower inflammation after meals. With ZOE, you can find out which "good" and "bad" bugs are found in your gut.
Just like humans, your gut microbes seem to have food preferences. We found that a diet rich in less processed "healthy" plant and animal-based foods (e.g. fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oily fish, eggs, full-fat yoghurt) is favored by "good" gut bugs, which in turn are linked to markers of good health.
Similar to a box of chocolates, the normal human microbiome contains both the "good" and the "bad" and research to date has shown that a highly diverse microbiome is associated with health benefits. However, our study has looked beyond diversity and found strong links between specific "good" and "bad" bugs and markers of health.
The latest findings from our study show that there is a link between certain "bad" bugs and markers of obesity. In fact, the composition of our microbiome has a greater association with the markers of obesity than our genetics!
It's estimated that 70 percent of our immune system is found in the gut. By looking after your gut bugs, you not only benefit from the beneficial metabolites they produce, you can also ensure that your immune system is well supported.
Your gut is directly connected to your brain and other organs through the vagus nerve. This connection means that your gut can transmit information which helps to regulate your food intake and appetite as well connecting to the cognitive and emotional areas of your brain....have you ever wondered why anxiety can sometimes result in an upset tummy or the feeling of butterflies?
Our results reveal that certain species of bugs are linked with healthier blood fat responses, which may impact long-term heart health. This builds on previous research which has demonstrated that low levels of "good" (butyrate-producing) gut bugs have been associated with an increased risk of heart failure and coronary heart disease. But the good news is that we can readdress the balance of these "good" and "bad" bugs, and improve our heart health, through modifying our diet and including more gut-friendly foods.
Research has found that some species of gut bugs are positively associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Our gut bugs are sensitive to stress, and this stress can directly affect the types of bugs in our guts, as well as the quantity. Even more reason to ensure that a good sleep and regular movement are part of your daily routine.
Commonly referred to as the 'happy hormone', Serotonin is a chemical that is mainly produced in your gut. Made from the essential amino acid tryptophan, and found full-fat dairy products, lean poultry as well as nuts and seeds (all foods that contribute to populations of "good" gut bugs!) it can act as a mood stabiliser and helps to regulate anxiety and mood.
Owning a dog or cat has been shown to contribute to overall household microbial diversity, exposure to which is an important factor in keeping your immune system in good shape.
Soil contains trillions of active microorganisms and has a much greater diversity than the human gut. Spending time outdoors - getting a little muddy, if possible - can help to increase the number and variety of bugs in your gut!
With ZOE you can discover the unique mix of bugs that are living in your gut and get insights into how your unique body responds to the foods you love. With personalized food guidance based on your own biology, you can have the power to influence and improve your own health!