What is the microbiome?

Discover the wonders of the microbiome and how it's linked to every facet of your health

Microbiome 101

A person’s microbiome is the entire collection of microbes living in and on our body - anywhere between 10 trillion and 100 trillion microbial cells. Large and diverse communities of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microscopic life form a living layer over almost everywhere in our body, from our intestines to our skin, genitals, lungs and even our eyes.

The gut microbiota

The largest and most researched microbial community can be found in our gastrointestinal tract and is known collectively as the gut microbiota. Many of us may be familiar with the idea of "good" and "bad" bacteria but, the truth is, it is not always that clear cut. The microbiome consists of microbes that are both helpful as well as potentially harmful to our health. 

The "forgotten" organ

The microbiome is often considered the “forgotten organ” because it plays so many key roles in promoting the smooth daily operations of the human body - as much a part of human biology as our own cells. We simply cannot exist without our resident microbes. And if we treat them well, they will do the same for us.

A symbiotic relationship

In a healthy person, these microbes coexist in a symbiotic relationship with their human host and confer to us a raft of benefits including aiding in digestion, helping with the absorption and production of essential nutrients, assisting our metabolism and supporting our immune and nervous systems. However, if there is a disturbance in that balance our bodies may become more susceptible to disease.

A diverse microbiome is the hallmark of a healthy microbiome.

Why we should care about microbial diversity?

Just like our fingerprints, our microbiome is entirely unique to each person. It is also dynamic and can be shaped by our environment, diet and lifestyle.