Can a Healthy Microbiome Keep the Doctor Away?

2 min read


The trillions of bacteria in your gut are getting lots of attention these days. A quick search on PubMed for “gut microbiome” articles published in the last year returns a whopping 5,935 results.


This interest in the microbiome comes following increased recognition that an unhealthy microbiome plays a role in the development of various conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).1


Although research is clarifying exactly how the microbiome contributes to the onset and development of IBD and IBS, we know that an unhealthy microbiome puts you at risk for developing these conditions.1


But what makes a microbiome unhealthy anyway?


That’s a good question. Here’s one way of thinking about it: Made up of trillions of bacteria, your microbiome is like a gigantic society. And like any society, to be healthy it needs to be stable and diverse. When this stability and diversity begin to break down, your chances of developing disease goes up.


When we talk about stability we’re talking about the rate at which your microbiome changes. When your gut is healthy, your microbiome should be relatively stable. But when it changes too much it can be a sign that something is wrong.


When we talk about diversity we’re talking about the number of different bacterial species found in your gut. When this diversity decreases we call it “dysbiosis” — or an imbalance in your microbiome.


This is important because research has shown that the development of IBS is potentially linked with a decrease in the diversity of the microbiome.1


So, if you’re battling IBD or struggling with IBS symptoms, encouraging a stable and diverse microbiome is a great place to start. Here are a few, research-backed ways that might help your microbiome become more stable and more diverse.

  1. Exercise regularly: A 2018 study showed that regular, endurance-based exercise could positively alter the gut microbiome, at least in already lean individuals.2

  2. Reduce stress: There is growing evidence that stress can create imbalances in the gut microbiome.3 Reducing stress is one of the key ways you can encourage a healthy microbiome.

  3. Eat a varied diet: Generally speaking, “the more diverse the diet, the more diverse the microbiome.”4 However, keep in mind that this “varied diet” shouldn’t include things like processed foods — which can increase the risk of developing IBD.5

Do you know the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Well, we all know that’s probably not true. But, when that apple is part of a varied diet feeding a healthy, stable and diverse microbiome then it might just, in fact, keep that doctor away.


With the Phyla microbiome testing service, you can measure the diversity and stability of your own gut microbiome. Join our email list today and receive 40% off your first test kit.


1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6579922/

2https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29166320/

3https://www.nature.com/articles/srep43859

4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4837298/

5https://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(16)35266-0/fulltext/