The gut microbiota communicates with the skin as one of the main regulators in the gut-skin connection.
What is the gut microbiome?
It's the trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi (and their collective genomes) that inhabit our intestinal tract.
By the latest estimates, we have more bacteria in our gut (38 trillion bacteria) than we have human cells in our entire body (37 trillion) (1)
But aren't bacteria bad?
The overwhelming number of bacteria found in your gut ecosystem are beneficial. However, a tiny percentage of pathogenic bacteria can cause problems like leaky gut, inflammation and even skin problems. As long as good and bad bacteria stay in balance, your gut microbiome remains strong and healthy.
Do bacteria have genes?
Yes. Research shows our gut bacteria contains 150 times more genetic information (~3 million genes) than in our own human genome. (~30,000 genes) (2)
What is a genome?
A genome is simply an organism's set of DNA instructions. "A how to" blueprint on how to function.
One of the surprises of the $3 BILLION Human Genome Project was the discovery that the human genome contains only 30,000 protein-coding genes, about a fifth the number researchers had expected to find.
This worm c. Elegans has about 20,500 genes (3)
So when compared to the millions of genes in the gut microbiome, our human genes contain less than 1% of the genetic information (or instructions) in our bodies at any given time. (2)
And the latest studies suggest that our microbiome genetic diversity is comparable to the number of stars in observable universe. (4)
So what instructions are these bacteria giving us?
Scientists are just beginning to understand how these bacteria influence everything from our digestion, immune system, mood, cognitive function, metabolic rate, and even our skin. (5)
And we're now learning that "the microbiome’s influence can be harnessed for therapeutic purpose via probiotic supplementation and transplantation."
1. Sender, R., Fuchs, S., & Milo, R. (2016). Revised Estimates for the Number of Human and Bacteria Cells in the Body. PLoS biology, 14(8), e1002533. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002533
2. Qin, J., Li, R., Raes, J., Arumugam, M., Burgdorf, K. S., Manichanh, C., Nielsen, T., Pons, N., Levenez, F., Yamada, T., Mende, D. R., Li, J., Xu, J., Li, S., Li, D., Cao, J., Wang, B., Liang, H., Zheng, H., Xie, Y., … Wang, J. (2010). A human gut microbial gene catalogue established by metagenomic sequencing. Nature, 464(7285), 59–65. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature08821
3. Shaye DD, Greenwald I (2011) OrthoList: A Compendium of C. elegans Genes with Human Orthologs. PLOS ONE 6(5): e20085. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0020085
4. Tierney et al., 2019, Cell Host & Microbe 26, 283–295 August 14, 2019 ª 2019 Elsevier Inc. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chom.2019.07.008
5. Salem, I., Ramser, A., Isham, N., & Ghannoum, M. A. (2018). The Gut Microbiome as a Major Regulator of the Gut-Skin Axis. Frontiers in microbiology, 9, 1459. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2018.01459
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