Evidence is mounting that diversity and richness are also good for your gut microbiota
You are microbial and your large intestine has been described as one of the most densely populated ecosystems on Earth. And in that relationship, both parties win. Your gut is a refuge for more than 100 trillion microbes. At the same time, gut microbes (most of them bacteria, but also viruses, fungi and protozoa) produce thousands of metabolites and complement many of the host’s functions, which include digesting food and immune system development.
However, the delicate balance struck between different gut microorganisms can be disturbed by modern lifestyle and chronic diseases.
High number of different species and how evenly distributed they are in the gut (diversity) and their gene count as a measure of their potential functions (richness), rather than gut microbiota composition alone, are features of the gut microbiota seen in healthy people and are decreased in disease.
What are the science-based ways of restoring a high level of gut microbiota richness and stability?
Type of birth and early-life feeding are the body’s first encounters with beneficial microbes, and the period marks an important developmental stage of those microbes’ relationship with humans.
As we age, lifestyle, and diet in particular, become the most powerful tool we have for preserving gut microbiota richness and a healthy gut. Specific foods, nutrients and diet in general can all influence the abundance and functions of gut microorganisms, which in turn can affect health and quality of life.
The best recipe for achieving the goals of richness and diversity is including in diets plenty of plant-based foods rich in fiber and polyphenols, foods rich in omega-3 and glutamine, and fermented foods that provide live microbes with potential health benefits.
In this interview on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of GMFH, Dr. Joël Doré, Research Director at INRAE Micalis Institute and MetaGenoPolis, provides an update on why taking care of our close relationship with our microbes is crucial for balancing human health.
Have a look at our previous expert interviews here:
Stay tuned for upcoming video interviews with other members of the GMFH Board of Experts and don’t forget to join the conversation on Twitter (@GMFHx and @GutMicrobiotaWW) using the hashtag #GMFH10Years.