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Taking Care Of Your Gut Microbiota

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

✍🏻 Nori Otis | Care Assistant & BSc Microbiology Graduate

 

What is your gut microbiota? 🦠


Your gut microbiota (also known as your gut flora) are the microorganisms which live in your intestines, making up your gut microbiome.


It's estimated that the human gut microbiota consists of over 100 trillion microorganisms; 3 times the number the rest of the human body has!

Everyone has their own unique composition of microorganisms which compose their gut microbiome. There are now projects which allow this to be tracked and tested, such as the Human Microbiome Project. Doctors may also perform faecal analysis in order to prescribe the right medication for any digestive symptoms you may have e.g., diarrhoea.


 

What does the gut microbiota do? 👅


The gut microbiota has many functions in the body, including digesting dietary fibre, facilitating effective digestion and absorption of vitamins and minerals, regulating metabolic function and vital immune protection from harmful microorganisms and pathogens.


 

What can influence the gut microbiota?


Many factors can influence the composition of the gut microbiota including:

  • Diet and the way our food is cooked

  • The environment we live in (rural vs urban)

  • Exercise habits

  • Medication e.g. antibiotics or acid suppressants

  • Baby feeding methods e.g. breast milk, artificial milk, and the introduction of solid food

  • Genetics

  • Gestational age (whether you were born preterm vs. full-term)

  • Delivery mode (vaginal delivery vs C-section)

  • Ageing

Many of these are not controllable, yet maintaining a healthy composition of gut microorganisms can be very beneficial to your health.


 

How can I take care of my gut microbiota?


As the diversity of everyone’s gut microbiota is vastly different, it is difficult to define what a healthy gut microbiome should be for everyone. However, there may be some features of your flora which could be improved. Try Incorporating the following as part of a balanced diet:

Prebiotics

Prebiotics promote the growth of good bacteria by naturally seeding the good stuff helpful bacteria need to grow – some scientists say ‘microbiota accessible carbohydrates’ as they contain the fermentable dietary fibre that the microbes digest to create the desired benefits. You can find these in fibrous, nutrient-dense foods:

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

  • Wholegrains

  • Vegetables

  • Fruits

  • Seeds

  • Legumes

Hitting a target of 30 different plant-based foods in your week by incorporating these foods into as many meals as possible can make a big difference!

Probiotics

Synbiotics

Supplements

Exercise

Self-Care & De-Stress


 
Mandy Pickersgill, Clinical Lead for Pathology at Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust

Written by: Nori Otis (Content Writer)


Edited by: Grace Pountney (Editor-in-Chief)


 

Science Suspicions

Each week, at Science Snapshot, we answer your Science questions!

Science Snapshot Blog logo

Q: Can smoking affect gut health?

A: Yes. Smoking can weaken the muscles in the lower end of the food pipe and cause acid reflux, leading to heartburn and the formation, or aggravation, of stomach ulcers. Find out more on the NHS website.


 


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