5 facts about your body's microbiome
Here at Dermala, we create skincare designed to help fight the root causes of acne, from inflammation to the overgrowth of acne-causing bacteria on the skin and in the gut.
Our products are created by microbiologists & skincare experts with the health of the human microbiome in mind. But our microbiomes have only really become more studied in the last few decades, thanks to advances in sequencing technology, so many people still don’t know much about what a microbiome is or how it works.
That’s why we’ve gathered up some important facts (and a few fun ones) to help you get to know your body’s microbiomes better.
Let’s take a look.
5 things you need to know about your microbiome
1. You actual have several microbiomes
There are microbiomes all over the human body, most notable on the skin, in the gut, in the mouth, and in the vagina. In some ways, you could consider all the microbiomes in and on your body to make up one big microbiome, but functionally, your microbiomes often work independently. A change in one may affect the others, but they’re really separate little environments.
2. Microbiomes contain more than just bacteria
With all the talk lately about microbiomes centering around good and bad bacteria, you might be tempted to think that’s what microbiomes are all about – but it’s not the whole story. What is in the microbiome? Human microbiomes include bacteria, viruses, fungi, archaea (single-celled organisms that are similar to but evolutionarily distinct from bacteria), and other eukaryotes (any cell or organism whose cells have a nucleus – which includes all animals, plants, fungi, and a wide variety of unicellular organisms). It’s a whole ecosystem of microscopic critters doing many, many different things!
3. As in life, diversity is a good thing in a microbiome
A healthy microbiome contains thousands of different species, and the average gut microbiome contains over 100 trillion individual microorganisms, weighing roughly 2 kilograms (around 4.5 lbs)! That might sound a little scary, but many of these itty bitty buddies perform vital functions for the human body
The microorganisms that live on and in us are often our first lines of defense against bad bacteria and viruses that can make us sick or cause infection. There are even bacteria in our gut that help us digest food we wouldn’t otherwise be able to eat at all! For example, scientists believe intestinal bacteria are a major source of vitamin K for humans. They make it possible for us to absorb certain vitamins and nutrients by helping break down things we can’t break down on our own, and even factor into serotonin production.
In general, greater diversity in our microbiomes means our bodies are more resilient and have more protection against potentially harmful invaders. Diversity helps keep all the species in balance, preventing any one species from overgrowing and wreaking havoc.
4. Microbiomes are affected by your environment, diet, and more
Studies have found that our microbiomes are affected by the things, people, and animals around us, and our lifestyles and diets. Even how you were born affects your microbiome, as vaginal births (versus caesareans) can affect how much bacteria a baby picks up from their mother’s microbiome! Studies have found that people who have dogs as kids have gut bacteria that help prevent the development of asthma (wild, right?) and peoples who traditionally eat seasonally, varying their diet more over the course of the year, have greater diversity in their microbiome and are less prone to certain illnesses.
If you’re looking to improve your microbiome, exposing it to a wider variety of foods is one way to help, or you can use products containing probiotics, take supplements, and eat pre- and probiotic foods.
5. Your microbiome can be a good indicator of health
We’re still learning about the human microbiome as the science develops, but we know that what’s in your microbiome can say a lot about your health.
As mentioned above, diversity in a microbiome is considered a good thing. Certain things like taking antibiotics can wipe out a lot of the diversity in your system, which can cause problems down the line. It’s important to rebuild your microbiome after an illness or course of antibiotics by eating foods like yogurt and kimchi and taking a probiotic supplement.
And, while skincare is where you hear a lot about the microbiome right now, it’s likely you’ll be hearing a lot more about it in future in other fields. For example, one study found that individuals with type 2 diabetes had a sufficiently distinctive gut microbiome composition that it was a better predictor of the disease than BMI.
Now you know a little more about microbiomes
Cool, right? Put this new knowledge to work by treating your microbiome to some prebiotics (things that feed your good bacteria) and probiotics (things that actually contain good bacteria) with a skin-friendly, customer-loved probiotic supplement.