Dr Tamara Hunter on Gut Health and Microbiomes

Tamara HunterChannel 9

As the saying goes “You are what you eat”, and the latest buzz word when it comes to gut health is Microbiome. It is the good bacteria that live in our bowels. Researchers are now discovering what type of diets they like. As we are about to find out it means healthier bodies.

Microbiomes, while they do live in our bowels, they are also live on and in our system. According to Dr Hunter, “we are learning more and more about the relationships we have with the bugs that live on and in our system. Also how that relates to disease and health. In fact, there are probably more bugs that live on and in our system than we have cells in the human body, so it is really important to look at this Microbiome.”

She continues on to state that “through and advances in being able to detect different bugs and understand the genetics of these bugs, we come to learn more about these Microbiomes. The Human Microbiome Project has shown us that we have different Microbiomes on our skin, in our mouth, in our gut and even in the reproductive tract. Research in labs, all around the world, are looking at the role of microbiomes in everything from pre-term birth right up through to the treatment of cancers.”

As much as there are many benefits from Microbiomes, unfortunately, they can be easily damaged through antibiotic consumption. According to Dr Hunter “Antibiotics are designed to kill off pathological bugs that are in places that they shouldn’t be or in amounts that can lead to diseases or infection. The problem with antibiotics sometimes is that not only do they kill off the bad bugs they also can kill off the good bugs. This can create an imbalance in the microbiota that’s in our system and this is called dysbiosis. We know now that dysbiosis can be associated with diseases but also interrupt the way that we might respond to medications and treatments.”

We have long been told that the key to weight loss is having good gut health. How do Microbiomes impact our gut health? According to Dr Hunter, “the biggest and the most diverse microbiome is the one in the gut, particularly the large bowel. Lots of research is now showing us that microbiome can help us digest food in different ways, can help in the moderation of fat uptake also sugar uptake and even hormonal management that might make us more or less hungry. Twin studies have shown us that the gut microbiome of very lean people is really different to that of obese people and in fact, animal studies are suggesting that we can modify that microbiome and prevent obesity.”