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The Microbiome & IBD: The Basics

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The Microbiome & IBD: The Basics



  • Microbiome: refers to the collection of genomes from all the microorganisms in the environment. 
  • Microbiota: usually refers to microorganisms that are found within a specific environment.


What is the gut microbiome?

  • Trillions of microorganisms and their genetic material living in your intestinal tract
    • That’s more than all of the stars in our galaxy!
  • Composed mainly of bacteria, although also contains yeast, bacteria viruses, and parasites
  • Large intestine has the largest population
  • Involved in many functions critical to your health, including immune system, energy production, and all of our B vitamin production
  • Quickly evolving field of study 


Early Influences on the gut microbiome

  • Mother’s gut microbiota, vaginal microbiome, and even dental health 
  • Initial exposure and inoculation at birth and breastfeeding
    • Example: if delivered via vaginal birth, you will be exposed to the lactobacillus species early because that species tends to be present in the vaginal canal the most
    • Example: for those born via C-section, the first exposure to a microbiome is through the skin allowing for a different set of gut bacteria 
    • Another exposure is through breastfeeding, especially within the first three days after birth where you are exposed to Increased immune factors in early breastfeeding
  • We have an established microbiota by age 2-3, although there are many factors that influence the microbiome 
    • Stress
    • Medications
    • Nutrients from food – this has the largest impact 
    • Exercise
    • Aging
    • Genetics