So what exactly is the microbiome? Let’s first talk microorganisms. Microorganisms are what actually make up the microbiome. Microorganisms include bacteria, fungi, and viruses. These organisms can be found throughout your body. The largest microbial community resides in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. You may have heard it referenced as “microflora." The microbiome is densely populated. Our bodies maintain a symbiotic relationship with these microorganisms: We feed them, and they provide us with essential health functions.
There are some things we know about the microbiome, while other things are still unknown. For example, we know that a disruption in the gut microbiome is associated with inflammation, metabolic diseases, and autoimmune diseases. And that this inflammation is further associated with chronic diseases. We also know that we can set the stage for a healthy gut early in life.
So how can we influence our microbiome? By what we eat. Probiotics introduce health- promoting microbes to the gut. And prebiotics provides nutrition for microbes that are already present in the gut. As I am sure, you have heard there are certain foods that have naturally occurring probiotics and prebiotics. Naturally occurring probiotics include kefir, buttermilk, yogurt, kimchi, and tempeh. While naturally occurring prebiotics includes banana, honey, leeks, onion, garlic, artichokes, and some legumes.
Bottom Line: Our microbiome is affected by what we eat, and there is evidence surrounding the consumption of pre and probiotics.