Your HEALTH is inside you !

But you have to feed it properly.

If the gut is the door to health and well-being, the microbiome can be understood as the key to that door.

Trillions of microorganisms – the microbiome – colonize the human intestine, and there is no doubt about their far-reaching influence on the organism today. Groundbreaking discoveries and the latest interrelations are published almost daily. In 2020 alone, research on the miraculous microbiotic world produced around 9300 results – a veritable flood of publications! There is practically no organ that is not affected by the microbes in the intestine. Conversely, this means that 90 percent of all diseases are associated with the intestine and microbiome health. The various clinical pictures are always accompanied by changes in the microbial community in the intestine. With this background, it is coherent that a high therapeutic potential is attributed to the microbiome.

Some super microbes are associated with many health conditions.

What is this oft-cited microbiome?

There is a lot going on in the intestines. Compared to the gut, New York is a small sleepy village. In the intestine alone, more living beings live on one square centimeter than people all over the world. This makes it the most densely populated habitat of all. Trillions of bacteria, fungi and viruses cavort in it and weigh at least one to two kilograms in an adult person. Humans carry around more bacterial cells than their own body cells. That it can even affect the human psyche was unimaginable until recently. In the microbiome, messenger substances are produced that cross the blood-brain barrier and influence our mood. Overmolded, it can be said that the bacteria influence our decisions. Fortunately, despite its importance, we are not at the mercy of the microbiome.

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of all diseases based on the microbiome
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times more genes are in the microbiome
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of the required SCFA are produced in the microbiome
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trillions of microorganisms live in the gut
Schematic representation of a section of the intestine colonized with bacteria. In reality, the density of bacteria is many times higher.

A fascinating underworld

What influences the microbiome?

So Bacteria and humans are a good team – usually. If this system, also known as symbiosis, is disturbed, it can have serious consequences for our health. Dysbiosis is the exact opposite of symbiosis and can cause a lot of suffering. But what is a healthy microbiome and how can it be positively influenced? Science deals with these questions. Various factors influence the composition of intestinal bacteria, including a person's age, diseases, medications, sleep, psyche, stress levels and fitness. For example, in long-distance runners after a marathon, you can find a lot of bacteria in the intestine that break down muscle-weakening lactic acid.

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However, the main influence option is and remains the diet

In the large intestine, bacteria find ideal conditions!

Nutrition is the be-all and end-all

Anything that the small intestine cannot digest enters the large intestine. There, the bacteria can decompose the remaining food components very well due to their significantly higher number of digestive enzymes in the microbiome. Therefore, everything that is indigestible fiber for humans is the best food for the microbes. From an evolutionary point of view, this was probably a way to make new food sources accessible, because the microbiome still provides humans with energy from actually indigestible substances. Japanese, for example, have an intestinal bacterium capable of digesting seaweed, which is frequently used for sushi. Europeans and Americans do not possess this bacterium. In today's affluent food society, however, we are more than enough supplied with calories and must rather make sure that the bacteria provide as few additional calories as possible.

Highlighted in bright green is the large intestine in which the main part of the microbiome is located. The large intestine forms the last stage in digestion. Up to the large intestine, the consumed food has traveled about 5-6 m and several hours. For the remaining 1.5 m colon, however, the food still needs 1-2 days – ideal conditions for bacteria!

The wonderland of metabolites

The microbiome: Acts far beyond the boundaries of the gut!

The radius of action of intestinal bacteria is by no means limited to the organ itself. The microbiome is certainly involved in the control of complex processes in the body. The well-being of these tiny creatures is inextricably linked to that of humans. The far-reaching influences of a dysbiotic, i.e. imbalanced, microbiome can lead to diseases such as chronic intestinal inflammation, type 2 diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, colon cancer or allergies. The microbes produce various molecules for the human body. These include vitamins, neurotransmitters – carriers of stimuli from one nerve cell to another – or the far lesser-known short-chain fatty acid (abbreviation SCFA). Short-chain fatty acids provide energy to the cells of the intestinal mucosa and are absorbed by almost all tissues, including the brain. They are involved in the regulation of appetite and energy metabolism. Various animal studies and a smaller number of human studies show that increased microbial production of these fatty acids can help prevent and treat metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and obesity. If the biodiversity in the microbiome, i.e. also the amount of producers of these short-chain fatty acids, decreases, an inflammatory cascade develops as a result, which has an effect not only in the intestine, but also in other places in the body. Possible consequences: skin diseases, cardiological, autoimmune or mental illnesses. A balanced diet can therefore contribute to the well-being of many different bacteria in the intestine, whose microbial metabolism exerts far-reaching positive effects on the entire organism.

The increasing number of metabolic, inflammatory, cognitive disorders as well as immune system diseases is associated with the decrease in biodiversity in the intestine. But how can this dangerous extinction of species be prevented? Hippocrates already knew the answer. His advice »Let food be your medicine and medicine your food!« is widened by a new perspective with the background of microbiome research – and underlines its importance. Proper nutrition plays a major, if not decisive, role in the biodiversity of the intestine. Because the microbiome obviously represents the missing link between the food and the diverse, individual health effects. Based on microbiome research, it can now be explained why, for example, with identical food intake, one gains weight, while the other remains unaffected – or even loses weight. The aim of a health-oriented diet should be to compensate for microbiome-related deficiencies through appropriate foods by stimulating the beneficial bacteria to grow and at the same time reducing harmful species.

[1] Rios-Covian D. et al. Intestinal short chain fatty acids and their link with diet and human health. Front. Microbiol. (2016), 7: 185. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00185

What can I do?

1. In order to maintain the health of the intestine, it seems to make sense in any case to support its microorganisms. The key to building a healthy microbiome lies in a predominantly nutrient-rich, wholesome plant-based diet. Adequate sleep, exercise and stress reduction are also helpful. Important to know: Of course, "bad" food can be removed from your own diet, but it does not have to! In contrast to many dietary rules and diets that do not take the microbiome into account, so-called "small sins" are easily allowed if the good foods described predominate. Because the metabolism then heals overall and can easily compensate for one or the other "misstep".

Through a microbiome-based change in diet, noticeable success can be achieved within a few weeks to months without having to turn one's own habits upside down. By the way, evidence from scientific studies also indicates that the change not only affects the bacterial community or body weight, but also behavior, mood and thinking ability.

The general pillars of a microbiome-based diet are:

Plant-based nutrition

Sufficient sleep, less stress, sports

Targeted supplementation