We have trillions of bacteria living in our gut, known collectively as our gut microbiome. Our microbiome is unique to each of us and it is now believed it makes a vital contribution to our health. Not only is the microbiome important for the health of our immune system, but it may play an important role in affecting our personalized response to food. This is because the food we eat is the raw materials for our microbes. Each microbe is a little chemical factory that turns food into a wide range of complex chemicals, which then pass through our gut wall into our bloodstream and throughout our body.
We are still early in the adventure of understanding how our microbiome works. Scientists working with ZOE are involved in leading a number of major initiatives to better understand how the microbiome works, how the food we eat can shift our microbiome, and which bugs help or hinder our metabolism. We expect to release a series of scientific papers on these topics during 2020.
What is known is that a healthy microbiome is diverse. This means it has a wide variety of different species of bacteria, making it more resilient and capable. A simple analogy is to think of your gut like a coral reef - there are many different species creating an ecosystem together. The food we eat is one of the most influential factors on our gut microbes, because without our food they would die. Eating a wide variety of foods and focusing particularly on high fiber foods helps build greater microbial diversity and a healthier gut. The app indicates those foods that are particularly good for gut health.