“Your microbes” – You have to agree that this sounds weird to say the least. Everybody has his own microbes? Well, as a matter of fact, yes. You may have not known this, but there are more of these microorganisms in your body than there are body cells. This very idea seems strange to most people, but it is how things are.
The first time when we inherit these agents is at the moment of birth and since then they will basically become a part of us. They are essential in the development of the future adult, because their benefits are huge.
Their main responsibility is to assist the body’s natural processes and right from the beginning this collaboration is beneficial for us. There are several aspects that make these microorganisms so effective in what they do and the benefits that they are providing us with are basically astonishing. First of all, we would not have an efficient immune system. This is because it relies especially on the influence of these bacteria.
They are also present at skin level, fighting the harmful agents that try to enter the body using wounds or any other openings. But their real influence is at the gut level. This is where most of them are living and the matter of fact is we simply cannot function properly without their assistance. Every human digestive system contains hundreds of bacterial strains, encompassing billions of microbial agents. Their primarily purposes include the increase in the digestive efficiency.
You could well consider the microbiome like an independent organ, still functioning in relation to your body, and which can be influenced by your diet and lifestyle. For instance, without the bacterial mass, we would not have been able to break down milk proteins. The human body is not naturally capable of this achievement, which is why this reciprocal collaboration system is definitely an evolutionary feature.
How does it all work?
This is a question we have always asked ourselves, ever since it became obvious that the microbiome plays a major role in our functioning. It is all about the genes. In the infancy, after an intense lactating period, before we move onto solid food, the bacteria will activate certain genes responsible for breaking down complex sugars and starches found the plants. Without this, we would not be able to consume them at all. This is what helps us to evolve.
But this is not a one way process. It functions as a circle. While the bacteria influence your diet, your diet also influences the gut bacteria in an equal measure. There have been quite a few studies supporting this theory so far. Researchers have taken several volunteers and have offered them either a carnivorous or a vegetarian diet. As it turned out, as soon as the diet changes significantly, the gut microbiome instantly reacted.
The bacteria began producing different substances, activating different genes and modify the metabolic rates accordingly. Given an enough time period, the digestive and metabolic processes of those involved in the studies would have changed significantly, in order to align to the dietary changes. This way the scientists were able to prove that the microbiome we are all carrying with us acts as a living organism, because this is exactly what it is.
It can change depending on your dietary choices and it can trigger different biological mechanisms. In the same way, a person that is strictly a vegetarian will have different bacterial strains, specialized in breaking down fibers, for instance. The person who would have adopted a strictly carnivorous diet, would have developed a bacterial gut environment that would have evolved in a completely different way.
This is where the interesting part comes in. These bacteria can affect you more than you would have guessed. As a matter of fact, while some bacterial strains can help you lose weight due to the fact that they influence your metabolism, others can actually make you gain more weight. This is where things become hot. If you would do a survey, you would find out that most people believe obesity to be related to personal mental attitude. They strongly think it is a matter of willpower, first of all.
In fact, as it has been discovered, genes play a major role in determining your predisposition towards being obese. It is one of the facts that have led to the further researches along the way and we can definitely that we have a bigger picture now. But we are only getting started. As we have mentioned above, being obese is strongly related to the type of bacteria colonizing your organism, more precisely the gut area. But how exactly does that work?
When thinking about human digestive potential, you have to understand that it is not a self-sufficient system. It strongly depends on the bacterial gut mass, whose role is essential in the process. The human microbiota, around 90% or more of it, comes from 2 large bacterial groups called: Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. New researches have managed to link these groups, or at least some bacterial agents that they contain, with increased risks of becoming obese along the way.
The process by which takes place has to do with the fact that these microorganisms are manipulating the genes and force them to store fats in the liver and muscles. The body’s natural action is to metabolize them and turn them into energy, but it seems like these bacteria are countering that. Sure, the effects are basically insignificant. They are at molecular level and they do not count that much in the bigger picture. The major problem occurs when the situation gets out of hand due to genetic predisposition.
In those cases, the effects could snowball and cause greater results over the course of several months or even years for that matter. However, you should not despair, because this is why you have probiotic supplements. These are designed to provide you with a more effective digestive system, basically countering the effects of those unwanted bacteria.
What is the bottom line?
The bottom line is that you should be extremely careful about what you eat. I know that this sounds like a truism, but I meant you should be careful about what you eat, including probiotics. Those found in the fermented foods that your friend told you to take could not work as intended, especially if you are predisposed to gaining weight.
The best way to go about this is to choose probiotic supplements, because they are especially designed to cope with your biological needs. Furthermore, probiotic supplements are even used as weight loss products, which says a lot. In this regard, always keep in mind that you truly are what your microbes eat.