We are an ecosystem within an ecosystem. Since humans have walked the planet, we have always had a symbiotic relationship with microbes. The majority of these microbes (95%) reside in our large intestines – thus when we refer to our microbiome, we are often referring to our gut microbiome. It’s difficult to appreciate the magnitude and power of our microbiome. In terms of human versus microbial cells, we are perhaps 10% human; in terms of genetic material, we are probably less than 1% human.
We feed these microbes and, in return, they produce many of the metabolites our bodies require for proper function. For example, there are roughly 60 species called the estrobolome that help balance Estrogen levels. In terms of mental wellness and the brain, there are a number of microbes that produce the majority of our Serotonin (happy hormone/neurotransmitter), GABA (calm), Norepinephrine (focus), and Dopamine (motivation). Further, roughly 80% of our immune system resides in our gut. A huge factor in how we feel mentally and physically is the state of our immune system and inflammation. A diverse, well-balanced microbiome will help control the amount of inflammation in our bodies and our brains. Our microbiome is often referred to as our ‘second brain.’