As health and fitness enthusiasts, we are always looking to improve our current situation and get just a little bit better. Fine tuning our diet, optimizing our training program, and ingesting the most effective supplements are just some of the ways that we care for our bodies. Up until recently, little attention was paid to the inner workings of our digestive system. As long as our stomach doesn’t hurt and things are regular, then there is nothing to be concerned about. But recent research has revealed that there is much more going on in our gut than the simple break down of the foods we eat.

As it turns out, our digestive system is home to a thriving community of bacteria that we have come to call the gut microbiome. This has prompted a worldwide investigation aimed at figuring out exactly what these gut bugs are doing inside our body. What impact do they have on our overall health and well-being? Do we have any say in how they behave? While the research on our gut microbiome is still in its infancy, there is a lot of compelling evidence that preserving our gut health may be crucial to maintaining the health of our body as a whole.

 

A Symbiotic Relationship

You may have heard someone say that there are more bacteria present in our gut than there are cells in the human body. In fact, early estimates put the ratio of bacteria to human cells at 10:1 [16]. While that initial estimate has been revised in recent times, it is still estimated that upwards of 38 trillion bacterial cells reside in our digestive tract [17]. Compare this to the roughly 30 trillion human cells that make up our body, and you could say that we are about as much bacteria as we are human.

Evidence we have accumulated so far points to a symbiotic relationship between ourselves and our gut bacteria. We provide them a safe environment and fuel to live off of and in return they offer several helpful services. While it may be difficult to imagine how this relationship could exist, it may not be the only example of bacterial symbiosis in our body.

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