How is the microbiome formed
Until recently it was commonly believed that our microbiome is first formed when we are born.
The first 1000 days
The latest research has called this into question with scientists discovering the presence of microorganisms in the placenta, amniotic fluid, foetal membranes and cord blood of healthy pregnancies. In any case, we know that our microbiome changes and adapts as we journey through life.
A mother's gift
Mostly inherited from our mums, our foundational microbiome is heavily influenced by whether we were born vaginally or via Caesarean section, whether we were breastfed or not, antibiotic exposure and our surrounding environment. A healthy infant gut microbiome is vital for normal digestion, immune system and brain development.
Once we start to eat solids, we are introduced to a whole new set of micro-organisms and the composition of our microbiome begins to stabilise into its own unique profile.
Overall, the adult microbiome remains relatively stable except following challenges such as infections, antibiotic treatment or dietary changes. Even though our microbiome has the ability to recover over time, these challenges may subtly alter our unique microbial make up.
As we age, it’s natural to lose some of the diversity in our gut microflora.
For instance, Bifidobacteria are abundant in the infant microbiome and remain stable in adulthood. They then start to slowly decrease as the normal lifestyle changes associated with our golden years influence the composition of our microbiomes. These changes have been linked to increased risk of several chronic age-related diseases.