Our microbiome is defined as a “community of microbes”, (the "universe in our gut"!
It’s an internal complex ecosystem of bacteria located within our bodies, most of which lives in our digestive systems. There are trillions of cells in our gut- Actually many times more than in the rest of our body.
We’ve some good references below which aren’t too heavy and we hope you’ll find useful.
There’s a programme on Netflix worth watching and I’ve attached links to articles by The Guardian and Dr Axe, both of which are good reads.
We could think of our gut as our “second brains” but there’s a lot more to them than that. Our gut health affects almost every aspect of our lives, and when you dig into it, it’s incredible.
You don’t need to be an expert, it’s pretty complex, but it’s well worth just knowing how important it is.
The Netflix programme’s from a series called “Rotten” about the food supply chain.
It was the second episode on Peanuts that I found really interesting.
The biggest problem with peanuts these days? - Allergies.
It looks at the mystery of why allergies are so common today, while 20 or 30 years ago they hardly existed, and also looks into ways to combat intolerances. If you’re in your 40’s or older, how many of your school friends had allergies?
Anaphylaxis, the faulty autoimmune response which can kill us, is the most serious problem. While they don’t know for sure, it’s looking pretty likely that overuse of antibiotics and our sterile eating and lifestyle habits are affecting our reaction to foods that were once safe for us.
How does the anaphylactic reaction happen?
Peanut proteins enter the system and are detected and identified as an invader and attacked by immunoglobulin E or IGE
You can have an IGE specific something like peanuts, bee stings, cat dander etc.
The worst outcome is anaphylaxis. Symptoms include
broncho-spasm which is most dangerous, and causes difficulty breathing,
suppression of heart rate,
reduction in blood pressure
hives and rashes,
gut problems, vomiting etc.
Why are we newly allergic, and why now?
Infants are being given antibiotics really early in life and this is destroying their microbiomes. We’re going into a “cleaner” state. We evolved a certain way, and we’re not living like that now.
Microbes come from playing outside, from playing in the soil, from the surface of leaves, food and so on. This lack of bacteria might be confusing our immune systems. They talk about this in that 2nd episode of ROTTEN.
Modern medicine and science have changed our gut composition.
We evolved to eat non-nutrient matter on food and these are missing. Just think about the “stuff” that’s on an apple that you pick off a tree. That’s largely gone now.
Researchers into the peanut allergies noticed in 2008 that Israel saw an 80% lower incidence of peanut allergies in children. When they looked for the reason, they found by chance, that a snack frequently fed to infants (4 – 11 months) contained tiny amounts of peanut and this is presumed to be the reason. (The snack is called Bamba – just like our Monster Munch or Chipsticks)
So, ironically, in the pursuit of protection, the rest of the world was doing more harm than good by cutting peanuts from children’s diets.
(By the way, many children will outgrow their allergies, but as adults don’t realise that they’re fine.
So if you were allergic, it could be very well worth testing to see if you’re still that way.)
There’s a lot more detail in the Dr Axe and Guardian articles that show that gut health goes way beyond the snippets that I’ve picked on above.
And it seems to be as intrinsic in our make-up as our DNA.
The Dr Axe Article
The Human Microbiome: How It Works + a Diet for Gut Health
The Guardian Article
Is your gut microbiome the key to health and happiness?
The Netflix Programme