The Human Genome Sequence
The human genome sequence is the complete strand of a human’s genetic information encoded in DNA. When scientists first set out to sequence the human genome they created “The Human Genome Project”, which took 13 years to complete, involved dozens of research centers and cost $2.7 billion. In 2022, the human genome can be sequenced for $600. (It’s as if it went from Rodeo Drive to the Dollar Store in a matter of years!)
Due to the dramatically lower cost in genetic sequencing, many scientific discoveries have occurred because of the wider access to this invaluable information. A recent discovery uncovered the importance regarding our microbiome and the role it plays in our gut health and immune system.
The microbiome is the collection of trillions of bacteria in the gut, as well as other places in the body. Since the gut contains the highest concentration of bacteria, we usually think of “gut health” in connection to our microbiome. Scientists have estimated that there are 10,000 species and 100 trillion microbial cells housed in our gut. In fact, we have more bacteria cells within our bodies than we have human cells!1 (a little unsettling if you think about that gross little seashell-of-a-factoid for too long…moving on).
Since our gut and immune system support one another, by optimizing your gut health you are aiding your immune system as well. Micro-organisms are found in many parts of the body and are constantly evolving in part from our diet, age, digestive health and many other behaviors which all affect these micro-organisms.
When these trillions of bacteria are in harmony, or in scientific terms, have a “mutually advantageous relationship,” our total body wellness is at peak performance. This brings us to the importance of optimal gut health.
What Can We Do to Obtain Optimal Gut Health?
- Eat fruits, veggies, legumes and beans.
- Consume a range of different foods.
- Eat prebiotic/probiotic foods.
- Eat good fats.
- Add fermented foods to your diet.
- Choose a plant-based diet that can increase the diversity of intestinal bacteria.
- Eat whole grains.
- Eat dark chocolate and foods with polyphenols (our personal favorite).
- Add an array of natural spices and herbs to your meals.
Diverse bacteria thrives in the gut and since 70% of our immune system is also located in our gut, it stands to reason that optimal gut health and strong immunity go hand in hand.2 Creating healthy habits of diet and exercise can affect the amount and strength of immune cells.
Jonathan Jacobs, a professor of digestive diseases from UCLA, spoke on the subject of microbiome diversity, “Dietary diversity and microbial diversity go together. The typical Western diet which is high in animal proteins, sugar, processed foods and saturated fat, results in a less-diverse gut bacteria…” A diet rich in fiber from food sources such as broccoli, apples, yams and zucchini is how gut bacteria thrives. A plant-based diet can also help you maintain a healthy weight which boosts the microbiome and the immune system.
Many labels we see in the grocery store that boast “fat-free” and “low-fat” foods have somewhat conditioned us to believe that all fats are bad and should be avoided. There is such a thing as “good fats” which can be found in eggs, salmon, olive oil, canola oil and avocado, to name a few. Consider using spray oils instead of bottled oil when cooking in order to lower the amount used. Good fats are recommended to comprise 20%-40% of your daily caloric intake.3
If you find it difficult to eat the foods outlined above to optimize this area of your health, there are supplements that can aid in optimizing your gut health. Some of the most common and beneficial supplements for gut health are4:
- Licorice Root
- Collagen Powder
- Moringa Leaf Powder
- Marshmallow Root
If you implement some of these changes to your diet you can experience a significant increase in the diversity of bacteria within your microbiome. By branching-out with different foods, herbs and spices you are ultimately introducing different types of bacteria into your gut. This can have a positive effect on not only your gut health and immune system but your overall well-being.5
**These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
- How your Gut Affects your Immune System: A Symbiotic Relationship, https://gilbertlab.com/immune-system/gut-microbiome-symbiosis/.
- If you want to boost immunity, look to the gut, https://connect.uclahealth.org/2021/03/19/want-to-boost-immunity-look-to-the-gut/.
- Fatty Foods With Mega Health Benefits, https://www.activebeat.com/diet-nutrition/10-fatty-foods-with-mega-health-benefits/4/.
- 9 Best Supplements for Gut Health, https://www.lamag.com/article/9-best-supplements-for-gut-health/.
- Role of the gut microbiota in health and chronic gastrointestinal disease: understanding a hidden metabolic organ, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3667473/ .