What is your microbiome?

This month’s article comes from: Science Magazine, Volume 336, 8 June 2012, Published by AAAS

Title: My Microbiome and Me

Author: Zhao Liping


Hey guys, I’m sure you have heard the term microbiome by now as well as genome and sure the microbiome has to do with human microbes genes and genome with our human genes but what does that really mean to us as a regular person who is not a scientist or doctor?

The best definition as well as simplest definition that I have found comes from learn.genetics.utah.edu which states “Some use “microbiome” to mean all the microbes in a community. We and others use it to mean the full collection of genes of all the microbes in a community. The human microbiome (all of our microbes’ genes) can be considered a counterpart to the human genome (all of our genes). The genes in our microbiome outnumber the genes in our genome by about 100 to 1. Microbes are everywhere: in the soil, in the water, and even in our bodies. That's right! Microbes cover every surface of our bodies, both inside and out. These microscopic life forms represent thousands of species, and they outnumber our own cells by about 10 to 1. A few microbes cause disease, but most do not. In fact, many are essential for good health.”

Now that we have a little better understanding, I will reference a few key points from the article and then add my thoughts and spin on how it relates to our community below:

  • Zhao read a paper that eventually changed the shape of his career. His colleagues showed a link
    between obesity and gut microbiota in mice (Science, 29 May 2009, p. 1136). Zhao was curious whether that link extended to himself and decided to find out. 
  • Fermented prebiotic foods that are believed to change the growth of bacteria in the digestive system—and monitored not just his weight loss but also the microbes in his gut.
  • “The list of the diseases that the microbiome may play a role in is just growing and growing,” says Lita Proctor, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s Human Microbiome Project in Bethesda, Maryland. 
  • For Zhao, the way involves transferring his weight-loss program to hundreds of human subjects and drawing on animal studies to decide what metabolic parameters to monitor in people. While his ultimate goal is to establish a molecular pathway connecting the micro- biota to obesity, his e-mail signature reads: “EAT RIGHT, KEEP FIT, LIVE LONG, DIE QUICK.” 
  • For a study published online 12 April in The ISME Journal, he and colleagues switched mice from normal chow to a high-fat diet and then back to normal chow again while monitoring changes in their gut microbiota at 2-week intervals. They found about 80 bacterial species associated with a change in diet. More promisingly, the shifts in microbiota induced by a high-fat diet were completely reversible. 
  • Rob Knight, a microbiologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, says he is looking forward to seeing results from Zhao’s clinical studies when they’re published. “Other studies of diet and the microbiome with fewer participants have yielded valuable and statistically significant results,” he says. 
  • They have found that when rats were given a high-fat diet together with berberine, the rodents didn’t develop obesity or insulin resistance—and in their guts, populations of known pathogens decreased while those of known beneficial bacteria increased. 

What does this really mean and why is this important? Zhao may prove a link between gut microbiota and health soon. Many of us have heard of the benefits of probiotics, how they are live bacteria that are good for your digestive system. Just about every yogurt commercial on tv talks about the benefits of adding this to your diet. So my question is have you? Do you take probiotics on a regular every day basis? 

Zhao’s research focuses on the tie in between obesity and gut health and that in and of itself is a big deal considering more than a third of adults in the United States (34.9 percent) were obese as of 2011 to 2012 according to stateofobesity.org.

How does it relate to those of us with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity is the question? And my answer is pretty simply if a healthy microbiome can be achieved by adding probiotics to our diet this will be hugely beneficial in healing our gut it certainly couldn’t hurt to add to our every day protocols. 80% of our immune system is located in your digestive tract and hello if we have celiac disease we have a compromised immune system and the more that we can do to heal that the better off we will be.


One of the best articles that I have found regarding probiotics benefits and supplements is from Dr. Josh Axe, we can all learn better ways to improve our gut health and our microbiomes, so I highly recommend reading it.

I'd love to hear how you are incorporating more probiotics in your life and how your health has improved, please comment below.

* Here’s my little disclaimer, I’m not a doctor, researcher, immunologist, just someone deeply concerned and trying to help as many peeps as I can make conscious, good, healthy choices for their health and their bodies when living life with gluten challenges. I have not been compensated or obligated to write this article, and as always, all thoughts and opinions are honest and my own!