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
- Nutrients from food – this has the largest impact