What is the microbiome?
Our human digestive tract is home to one of the most dense and diverse microbial ecosystems in the known universe. These microbial communities, the habitat they live in, their metabolites and other components of their repertoire of activity are known as the ‘intestinal microbiome’. Research has shown that the intestinal microbiome performs many crucial bodily functions, such as digesting food, protecting us against harmful bacteria, and interacting with our immune system.
In health, the microbial communities within the microbiome work in harmony and support normal physiological function. However, imbalances in both structure and function of the microbiome can occur and can even be caused by our contemporary use of drugs intended to treat diseases.
Over a decade of research has shown that imbalances within the microbiome are associated with a wide range of medical ailments ranging from acute intestinal infections caused by the bacterium C.difficile, to complicated chronic conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer. The impact of imbalances within the intestinal microbiome may even reach other parts of the body, with studies linking imbalances in the microbiome to diseases of the brain and nervous system such as Parkinson’s disease and Motor Neurone Disease.