The human microbiome is a collection of microorganisms that live on and inside the human body. These microorganisms play an important role in human health and disease. In this article, we will explore the different types of microorganisms that make up the human microbiome, mostly the gut microbiome, their roles in human health, and how they can be used to treat diseases.
What Is The Human Microbiome
The human microbiome is mainly made up of bacteria, archaea, fungi, protists, and viruses. However, the study of this microbiome has largely focused on bacteria due to their abundance (about 10 times more than other microbes). For example, the mouth alone contains over 600 species of oral bacteria. However, the diversity of these bacteria decreases when passing through the digestive tract. This is mainly due to the harsh environment in the stomach and small intestine which only selects for certain species of microbes to thrive in.
The Gut Microbiome
The gut microbiome refers to the microorganisms that reside in the digestive tract. Almost 1kg of microbiota (mostly bacteria) can be found inside your digestive tract! The number of bacterial cells is about 100 million times more than human cells, but only about 0.2%-3% come from bacteria you ingest through food. It has been shown that people who don’t consume any meat have 50% more bacterial species than individuals who do eat meat, showing that diet is a large factor in determining microbial diversity.
A healthy gut microbiome has diverse microbes which help maintain homeostasis by regulating inflammation and creating metabolites that influence our metabolism and mental health. This type of microbiome is researched with the help of microbiome technology, which has allowed us to discover the impact it has on the human body. Microbiome technology allows us to sequence DNA, analyze the genes present in an organism, and identify which bacteria are present. It also allows us to harmlessly examine how microbes interact with the environment around them (including other microbes).
How The Microbiome Affects Our Health
The microbiome plays an important role in regulating our health by influencing various systems in the body. However, what is even more fascinating is the effect a microbiome has on other microbiomes. For example, gut bacteria can produce short-chain fatty acids which influence inflammation and immunity in the body.
In addition to regulating physical health, research shows that gut microbes also play a role in mental health by affecting mood and behavior. There is evidence that gut microbiota is involved in controlling anxiety and depression in mice through neurochemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. For humans, it has been shown that diet influences the gut microbiome which in turn regulates mental health (such as mood and behavior). The reason for this is not well understood but may be due to the effect of certain foods on neurotransmitters in our brains.
The human microbiome is a complex and fascinating ecosystem that plays an important role in human health. In this article, we have explored the different types of microorganisms that make up the human microbiome, mostly the gut microbiome, and their roles in human health. We have also looked at how diet influences the gut microbiome which in turn regulates mental health. The implications of these findings are still being investigated but they hold great potential for understanding and treating diseases.