World Microbiome Day, a global awareness event designed to boost the collective knowledge of the body’s important microbes, takes place this year on the 27th of June.
Communicating the latest scientific understanding of human microbiomes, this awareness day underlines the importance of microbes in our daily lives – including those in the gut. The event is intended to support learning at multiple levels, from healthcare professionals through to consumers.
The theme for World Microbiome Day 2023, ‘Microbes and food’, draws particular attention to the crucial relationship between diet and gut microbiome health. As we mark this event, it’s vital to acknowledge the role of prebiotics in promoting a healthy gut.
What do we mean by the ‘gut microbiome’?
The gut microbiome is a diverse community of trillions of microorganisms, residing in the gastrointestinal tract. These microbes can include organisms such as viruses and fungi, but is predominantly made up of bacteria, which form the ever-shifting composition of the gut microbiome.
As well as helping to recover essential nutrients from digested food, certain types of bacteria are known to have additional benefits to health and wellbeing. These advantages are wide-ranging, supporting health areas such as digestion, metabolism, immune response, and even brain health.
The gut microbiome is a finite space and its composition can change over time. As certain types of bacteria have additional benefits to wellbeing, we naturally want higher levels of these. Gut microbiome composition can be influenced by numerous factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and notably, diet.
The link between diet and gut microbiome health
We know that in wider terms, diet is incredibly important to health and wellbeing, from acting as a key source of energy, nutrients and metabolites, to weight management and immune health.
However, an advantage that is less commonly known is that certain nutrients found in the food we consume serve as fuel for both our bodies and the bacteria that inhabit the gut microbiome.
Different bacteria are nourished by different nutrients, so our dietary choices significantly impact the composition and activity of the gut microbiome. This further underlines the need for a diverse, nutritionally balanced diet.
Typically, a diet rich in processed foods, saturated fats, and added sugars is considered nutritionally suboptimal, which can lead to less advantageous composition of gastrointestinal flora in the gut microbiome. Similarly, an athletic diet is often very high in protein and carbohydrates, leading to undesirable outcomes.
In such examples, the gut microbiome may not be receiving the nutrients required for beneficial bacteria to flourish. While not recognised as a formal medical condition, this imbalance of bacteria is known as dysbiosis. Click here to learn more about dysbiosis.
On the other hand, a nutritionally diverse diet is key to creating a favourable gut microbiome environment. Adopting a diet that includes many varied vitamins, minerals and nutrients, is key.
The power of prebiotics
Prebiotics are a specific type of dietary fibre that is non-digestible but serves as a valuable food source for beneficial gut bacteria, including bifidobacteria.
By selectively stimulating the growth and activity of these beneficial bacteria, prebiotic fibre helps to maintain a favourable gut microbiome environment. While prebiotic fibre can be naturally found in certain foods such as leafy green vegetables and wholegrain oats, this is typically in very small amounts.
As an addition to a nutritionally diverse diet, prebiotic dietary supplements can be used to help increase the intake of prebiotic fibre.
Promoting gut health awareness
At Clasado Biosciences, we recognise the importance of sharing knowledge and raising public awareness about gut health and prebiotics. As a leader in microbiome modulation science and how this knowledge can transition into a commercial proposition, we are ideally placed to help expand this public awareness.
Our team believes in the power of learning, and we work closely with our partners, healthcare practitioners and academics, to make gut health knowledge more accessible.
By actively participating in World Microbiome Day and supporting this year’s theme, “Microbes and food,” we aim to empower individuals, healthcare professionals, and the food industry with information about the vital role of the gut microbiome in maintaining better gut health.
For health and nutrition brands, there has never been a better time to explore the advantage of prebiotics, particularly while consumer demand is on the rise.
To learn more about the science that expands our understanding of prebiotics, click here.