The Microbiome is active in the digestion of our food and hence nutrition, it also influences our immune system via the production of a host of different metabolites which have an enormous influence, generally vital and positive, on our health. However, when our microbiome is in Dysbiosis (microbial imbalance due to the reduction in presence of beneficial bacteria being outcompeted by non-benefical or even pathogenic bacteria) it can lead to complications and chronic diseases which can lead to serious conditions such as diabetes or heart and liver problems!
This is an area that is already well studied, and we know that without our gut microbes we cannot digest complex polysaccharides like carbohydrates and proteins in meat and vegetables. The short chain fatty acids which include acetate, propionate, and butyrate, produced by bacteria in the gut during fermentation of insoluble fibre, have been linked to health promoting effects, including a reduced risk of inflammatory diseases, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Diabetes, allergies, Depression, IBS, certain cancers and also skin disease (Atopic dermatitis and Psoriasis) have all been shown to be linked to the presence of certain pathogens brought about by microbial dysbiosis. The gut is home to most of our immune cells and as such there is continuous communication between them and your microbiome. If these lines of communication are broken the door opens for pathogens that will benefit and disrupt. This very same imbalance can often invoke inflammation which exposes the intestinal wall to increased permeability also known as “leaky gut” which is also associated with Crohns and Celiac disease!
“The second brain” is always an interesting name for the gut and probably unrealistic in truth however what actually exists is a direct link between the brain and the gut via the vagus nerve, so we could certainly say the gut microbiome and the brain are hard-wired to each other. What actually happens is that microbes produce neurotransmitters that communicate with the brain such as GABA(which controls neuronal excitability) and serotonin (which produces feelings of well being and happiness). Mood disorders, Depression, Parkinsons disease and autism have all been linked via mouse studies to show influence from gut microbes.
Here’s a non exhaustive list of disease linked to the gut microbiome: