Welcome to Part 5 of the Gut Microbiome 101 series, in which we will look at the various factors that influence gut microbiome composition.
In the previous post in this series, we looked at how the infant microbiome influences health and now we are taking a broader view to look at various factors at play over an individual's lifetime that change their microbiome.
I have a gigantic spreadsheet with all of the gut microbiome subtopics that will be covered in this series. I estimate the series will run for the rest of the year. I don’t think I realised what I was getting myself in to, but I’m enjoying it and I hope that you guys out there are getting something from it too. My goal is to educate and inspire you to look after your gut health in ways that are not intimidating, but empowering and also enjoyable… gut healthy foods are actually delicious!
Just as our overall biology is complex, so too is the gut microbiome. There are so many various species of microbes that all have different features and they also thrive under different conditions. Some species love prebiotic fibre, some love bile, some consume protein. Some species do best when the host (us) is in the fasted state. Ultimately, they are all so different and all of them quite like living in their home – our guts. So, different aspects of our lives will benefit some types of bacteria and potentially negatively affect other types.
It’s helpful to understand that there are many factors that influence the composition of an individual’s microbiome. Diet is just one factor.
Here are the currently known factors that influence the composition of your microbiome:
- Mode of birth, mother’s microbiome and infant diet
- Biological sex
- Diet – food choices and timing
- Digestive factors – eg. bile, enzymes, stomach acid
- Medications – not just antibiotics
- Physical and mental stress
- Exercise habits
- Household/living environment
- Pet ownership
- Time in nature, farms etc
- Close relationships
The first point has been covered in Part 3 of the Gut Microbiome 101 series. Future posts in this series will examine these factors in more detail.
If there’s anything you’re curious to know more about let me know in the comments!
My hope is that you find this free content useful to you in your life if you’re looking to improve your gut microbiome and health.
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