There is no doubt that life has its challenges. And, while we may not be able to prevent these challenges, we can support our ability to bounce back from them.

Bouncing back is another term for resilience, i.e., our ability to recover from life’s curveballs.

The more resilience you have, the more challenges you can face without sacrificing your health and wellbeing.[1]


Where does one become more resilient?


While genetic and environmental factors all play a role in determining your resilience, new evidence highlights the role of another important key player - the gut microbiome.[2]  The relationship between the gut microbiome and whole-body health is a 2-way street, with our general health affecting the microbiome and vice versa. 

Generally speaking, health is a partnership between us and our microbes, and understanding how to better support this partnership could be your ticket to a more resilient you. [3]


    Meet your microbes! 


    Firstly, let’s get to know your microbiome…

    This large community of microbes, including bacteria, fungi and yeasts, coats your body inside and out. While invisible to the human eye, your microbiome makes up approximately 50% of the cells in your body. Your microbiome more than just part of you, it is essentially your other half!3

    As the largest of the human microbiomes, the gut microbiome has a big job to do![4] Think of your gut as the control centre and its resident microbes as the operators, influencing the health and function of distant organ systems including the brain, heart, immune system and beyond.[5]


    It's all about balance…


    Our gut microbiome faces constant challenges, much like we do in our daily lives. In a survival-of-the-fittest scenario, gut microbes must evolve and adapt to different foods, medications and stressors. When the balance between ‘good’ (AKA health-supporting) and ‘bad’ (AKA disease-causing) microbes is achieved, the microbiome coexists peacefully with your body, supporting health like a functioning organ. When out of balance, your body will find a way to let you know – usually in the form of pesky symptoms! [6] 

    Whether dysbiosis is caused by an overgrowth of bad microbes, a loss of good microbes, or a general loss of overall diversity, it can result in various health consequences.6 One such consequence is an alteration to immune function, and nothing defines resilience quite like a healthy immune system!


    Training your inner army


    Akin to an inner army, our immune system protects us against invading forces, typically in the form of harmful microbes. 

    Like most armies, our immune system needs to be trained, and it just so happens that our gut microbes do just that!6

    Frequent interactions between immune cells and microbes have shown to stimulate various components of the immune system. Much like frequent exercise conditions our muscles to become stronger, these microbe-immune interactions help to develop a robust immune response. 6 Therefore, supporting our gut microbiome health also helps support healthy immune function.


    Don’t forget your mental resilience!


    Research suggests that a well-balanced gut microbiome not only influences physical health but also has implications for mental well-being. The gut-brain-axis, a bidirectional communication pathway between the gut and brain, highlights the intricate connection between gut health and mental health.[7] While the balance of the gut microbiome can affect stress, stress can also affect our gut microbiome composition, potentially leading to health issues, such as anxiety or irritable bowel syndrome. Evidence suggests that we can support our mental resilience, through a healthy microbiome. 


    So, how does one become more resilient?


    A diverse and thriving microbiome is better equipped to face the challenges thrown its way, contributing to your ability to bounce back from life's challenges. The good news is, there are some simple steps that can be taken to support your gut microbiome health and diversity and the best part is, research shows changes can be shown in your microbiome in as little as 24 hours![8]


    3 simple steps to support your daily resilience


    1. Diversify your diet: Aim to include a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as fermented foods to help feed your beneficial microbes, while avoiding heavily processed foods high in refined fats and sugars. [9]
    2. Move to improve: Not only does exercise increase your ‘feel good hormones’, manage stress and support immune function, but evidence suggests it also helps support microbiome diversity.[10] Remember - exercise doesn’t have to be boring. Try a forest walk, dance in your living room or play with your dog!
    3. Take a daily probiotic: Probiotics supplements can contribute to the balance and health of the gut microbiome. These friendly bacteria play a role in regulating the immune system, maintaining the integrity of the gut lining, and producing essential nutrients. As we prioritize the health of our gut microbiome through the introduction of probiotics, we are essentially investing in our own resilience.[11],[12]


    [1] Tugade MM, Fredrickson BL. Resilient individuals use positive emotions to bounce back from negative emotional experiences. Journal of personality and social psychology. 2004 Feb;86(2):320.

    [2] Fassarella M, Blaak EE, Penders J, Nauta A, Smidt H, Zoetendal EG. Gut microbiome stability and resilience: elucidating the response to perturbations in order to modulate gut health. Gut. 2020 Oct 13.

    [3] Abbott A. Scientists bust myth that our bodies have more bacteria than human cells. Nature. 2016 Jan 8;10.

    [4] Vighi G, Marcucci F, Sensi L, Di Cara G, Frati F. Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clin Exp Immunol. 2008 Sep;153 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):3-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x. PMID: 18721321; PMCID: PMC2515351.

    [5] Ahlawat S, Sharma KK. Gut–organ axis: a microbial outreach and networking. Letters in applied microbiology. 2021 Jun;72(6):636-68.

    [6] Levy M, Kolodziejczyk AA, Thaiss CA, Elinav E. Dysbiosis and the immune system. Nature Reviews Immunology. 2017 Apr;17(4):219-32.

    [7] Bear T, Dalziel J, Coad J, Roy N, Butts C, Gopal P. The Microbiome-Gut-Brain Axis and Resilience to Developing Anxiety or Depression under Stress. Microorganisms. 2021 Apr;9(4):723.

    [8] Leeming ER, Johnson AJ, Spector TD, Le Roy CI. Effect of diet on the gut microbiota: rethinking intervention duration. Nutrients. 2019 Nov 22;11(12):2862.

    [9] Leeming ER, Johnson AJ, Spector TD, Le Roy CI. Effect of diet on the gut microbiota: rethinking intervention duration. Nutrients. 2019 Nov 22;11(12):2862.

    [10] Chandrakumaran H, Safdar A, Sager M, Nazli A, Akhtar M. Regular exercise shapes healthy gut microbiome. J Bacteriol Mycol Open Access. 2016;3(3):251-3.

    [11] Kumar R, Sood U, Gupta V, Singh M, Scaria J, Lal R. Recent advancements in the development of modern probiotics for restoring human gut microbiome dysbiosis. Indian Journal of Microbiology. 2020 Mar;60(1):12-25.

    [12] Kerry RG, Patra JK, Gouda S, Park Y, Shin HS, Das G. Benefaction of probiotics for human health: A review. Journal of food and drug analysis. 2018 Jul 1;26(3):927-39.