14 Surprising Things You didn’t know About Your Gut Microbiome

14 Surprising Things You didn’t know About Your Gut Microbiome

The following article was reposted from a blog post by company Viome. Read more about Viome: https://www.viome.com/research-institute

Unless you’ve been living on some remote island, without access to the Internet, sipping piña coladas – there is no way you’ve missed all the hype about gut health.

It seems every day somebody’s coming out with a new colon cleanse, a gut health reboot, or a fancy new probiotic sure to solve your tummy troubles.

Unlike other health fads, the focus on gut health is here to stay!

This is because your gut is home to trillions of microorganisms that do everything from strengthening your immune system and creating your “happy” chemicals, to extracting energy from your food.

You have your gut microbiota to thank for so many aspects of your health (or lack of health),  which is why it continues to be one of the hottest topics.

As the Director of NYU Human Microbiome Program, Dr. Martin J. Blaser put it, “It’s reasonable to propose that the composition of the microbiome and its activities are involved in most, if not all, of the biological processes that constitute human health and disease.”

So, let’s get to know your gut microbiome a little better. Here are 14 surprising things you didn’t know about your gut microbiome.

1. There are more than bacteria in your gut

Although your gut microbiome is mostly bacteria, there are also all sorts of other organisms in there.1 Archaea are an ancient organism that has no cell nucleus and often produce methane. They also have the distinct ability to live in extreme environments, including your acidic gut.

You’ll also find plenty of yeast and other fungi hanging out in there, and possibly parasites too. But perhaps the most fascinating of all are bacteriophages, which are teeny tiny viruses that infect specific bacteria. Since these organisms specifically infect certain bacteria, the hope is that one day they may be used as a targeted ‘antibiotic.’  

2. Your genes are outnumbered

 The genes found in your gut microbiome outnumber your human genes 150 to 1.2. When scientists discovered that human DNA was  99.9% the same, human to human, they were a little perplexed.

It seems the dynamic gut microbiome is potentially capable of contributing to these differences. Your gut microbiome can influence gene expression and biological functions, making humans wonderfully unique.

3. The gut is the epicenter of revolutionary science

Functional metagenomics goes beyond identifying what’s in there and is working to find out what’s actually going on inside your gut. Metatranscriptomic sequencing technology is at the forefront of this gut revolution.3

4. The microbiome has more biodiversity than a rainforest

When we imagine a vibrant ecosystem with many different species of plants and animals, we usually think of the Amazon rainforest. But the Amazon pales in comparison to your gut microbiota, which is far more diverse.4

5. You’re just like your mother 

Even though humans are 99.9% similar in their DNA, they very different when it comes to our gut microbiome.

While your gut microbiome will look very different compared to the person walking by you on the street, it will look most similar to your mother’s gut, followed by your siblings.5

6. The “bad guys” that aren’t all bad

We were too quick to label certain bacteria like E. coli “bad guys.” Only to find out that we actually need them on some levels and in some locations within our gut.  E. coli actually helps stimulate regeneration of the gut lining, making the digestive tract healthier.6 The underlying conclusion of gut microbiome research is that it’s all about balance.

7. It’s more like an organ 

Scientists are hesitant to call the gut microbiome an organ because it consists of microbial species that are not of human origin. When you’re imagining the gut microbiome, it helps to think of it as an organ because it plays critical roles throughout your body. It’s a key player in your nervous system, immune system, and endocrine system – it’s like a mega-organ

8. Your gut isn’t the same one you were born with

In fact, you weren’t born with much of a gut microbiome at all. Over the first seven years of your life, you developed your microbiome which was impacted by how you were born, where you lived, the food you ate, and much more.

These experiences built the foundation of your microbiome and influenced how your gut microbiota looks today. However, while your gut microbiota changes throughout your life, it does keep a sort of “microbial fingerprint.”8

9. Your gut microbiome is like your second brain

The gut microbiome is called your second brain because it affects your mood, happiness, motivation, and even can contribute to suboptimal neurological performance later in life.9 Your microbes actually produce about 90% of serotonin or your “happiness neurotransmitter.”

Along what’s called the vagus nerve, the bacteria in your gut are in constant communication with your brain and influencing your behavior. While this might sound like microscopic aliens are taking over your mind, the good news is you have a lot of influence over them through what you eat.

10. Antibiotics create a warzone

Antibiotics are like a nuclear bomb for your microbiota and can quickly change its composition, potentially leading to dysbiosis (an imbalance in the gut microorganisms).10 This can have both short and long-term effects on your health since the microbiome is critical in many physiological processes, including regulation of metabolism and immunity.  

Antibiotics cause sweeping changes to your microbial ecosystem.  

11. Your gut is surprisingly resilient

Even though antibiotics aren’t great for your gut microbiome if you must use them, you’ll be happy to hear your microbes can be remarkably resilient. If you take good care of your gut by eating the right foods, which you will find through your Viome recommendations, you can boost the beneficial bacteria and work to restore balance.1
Your gut microbiome is pretty strong and can potentially bounce back from something as catastrophic as antibiotics – with a little help.

12. Can predict if you’re overweight or lean

Looking at the composition of your gut microbiome, researchers can tell with 90% accuracy whether you’re overweight or lean. This has fascinating implications because we know that the microbiome is essential to metabolism through harvesting and storing energy.12

Though the connection hasn’t yet been made about whether or not certain microbes can actually make you fat, there is an interesting correlation between metabolic health and certain bacteria.

13. Harvests energy from food

How healthy your microbes are affects how well your body extracts energy and nutrients. A healthy gut is associated with a healthy metabolism. So when it comes to losing weight, not only should you exercise regularly, but you should eat for these trillions of bacteria.

14. It’s shrinking

As a whole, the Western world is losing diversity in their gut microbiome. Things like antibiotic use, spending all of our time indoors, and moving into the cities have contributed to this loss in biodiversity.14,15

This is concerning as we’re only just beginning to understand how vital these microorganisms are. It could be that we’re losing certain species we didn’t know were critical.

Your gut microbiome is a fascinating and complex world which we are continually discovering new and amazing things!


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4991899/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21203913 
  3. https://www.jci.org/articles/view/78366 
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3577372/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4464665/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4510460/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22647038
  8. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/personal-microbiomes-contain-unique-fingerprints/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26865085
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4885777/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3577372/
  12. https://cty.jhu.edu/imagine/docs/second-genome.pdf
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3601187/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4815357/ 
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5744394/
Pro 32 (soil based) Probiotics

The Role of Curcumin in Anti-Aging

The Role of Curcumin in Anti-Aging

Aging, which can be defined as the ‘time-related deterioration of the physiological functions necessary for survival and fertility’, is a process most people would like to slow down. Some of its main causes include accumulated cellular damage caused by free radicals and the shortening of telomere. Through research, scientists have identified a large number of substances that have anti-aging properties. Curcumin is one such a substance and its nutraceutical properties are now widely accepted in modern medicine. 

Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, a spice widely used in Ayurvedic- and Chinese medicine. Its role in wound healing, arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease, amongst other things, has been well researched. Lately it has also come under the spotlight for its anti-aging properties, whether in the fight against age related disease or simply in skin aging.

How does Curcumin promote longevity?

The role of curcumin in cellular senescence.

Cellular senescence occurs when cells stop dividing. As aging progresses senescent cells accumulate, which is believed to accelerate aging and disease progression. Research demonstrates that curcumin activates certain proteins, including sirtuins and AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) which helps delay cellular senescence and promotes longevity.

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant role of curcumin.

It is well known that inflammation plays a key role in aging. Curcumin can counteract the pro-inflammatory state which is believed to participate in many age-related diseases.  Unlike synthetic drugs, which typically work against only a single inflammation pathway, natural curcumin reduces inflammation through its effects on multiple inflammation targets. 

Several studies have highlighted the positive impact of curcumin supplementation in metabolic diseases such as diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, or cancers, the main common phenomenon of which is inflammation.

A recent study in animals with Alzheimer’s disease showed the binding of curcumin to A-beta, thus preventing the formation of amyloid plaques and the development of chronic inflammation.

Other studies have been interested in the modulation of pro-inflammatory molecules, such as certain enzymes (phospholipase, lipo-oxygenase, cyclo-oxygenase 2) and cytokines (TNF-alpha, IL-1, IL-6…), by curcumin and are equally conclusive.

Curcumin and gene regulation.

Cancer can be considered an age-related disease because the incidence of most cancers increase with age. It can also be described as a disease of altered gene expression. Curcumin has the ability to modulate gene expression—both by destroying cancer cells and by promoting healthy cell function.

Curcumin has the most evidence-based literature of any nutrient supporting its use against cancer, including vitamin D, which also has a robust base (Biswas et al., 2010; Bar-Sela et al., 2010). Curcumin has the ability to modulate gene expression—both by destroying cancer cells and by promoting healthy cell function. It also promotes antiangiogenesis, meaning it helps prevent the development of additional blood supply necessary for cancer cell growth. 

Several studies have shown the effectiveness of curcumin on three common types of cancer: colon, lung and prostate. In all studies, tumour size was significantly reduced and post-treatment survival was increased up to three times. The most common explanation for this effect is that curcumin is able to regulate the expression of certain pro-cancer proteins by binding onto the genes encoding them.

Towards an extension of life?

Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes. Almost like the plastic tips  at the end of shoelaces. Without the coating shoelaces become frayed until they can no longer do their job, just as without telomeres, DNA strands become damaged and our cells can’t do their jobs. 

Telomere shortening is involved in all aspects of the ageing process on a cellular level. Telomere length represents our biological age as opposed to our chronological age. Many scientific studies have shown a strong connection between short telomeres and cellular ageing. Telomeres act as the ageing clock in every cell.

In the context of neurodegenerative diseases, a study examined telomeres and their regulation by curcumin. It seems that it affects telomerase, the enzyme that repairs the telomeres so that they do not become progressively shorter. By increasing telomerase expression, telomeres are preserved longer, thus increasing the lifespan of our cells https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jcb.24466

Curcumin is involved in cellular signalling and gene regulation mechanisms that allow it to act on the overall aging of our bodies.

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