You have trillions of bacteria living in your gut, known collectively as your gut microbiome. This microbiome makes a vital contribution to your health, affecting the strength of your immune system and how your body responds to food.
The gut gets colonized by many microbes at birth. The composition of the gut microbiome is mostly dictated by what you eat but there are plenty of other factors that contribute. Where you live, who you interact with, any medication you take, hygiene conditions, level of exercise, stress, and more.
What happens when you eat?
Each microbe in your gut is a little chemical factory that turns food into a wide range of complex chemicals. These then pass through your gut wall into your bloodstream and throughout your body.
But the makeup of your microbiome is unique. So the exact same food may be processed completely differently by your gut than someone else’s.
By eating the right foods and living the right lifestyle you can partially shape the composition of your gut microbiome, better managing your health and weight.
What makes a healthy microbiome?
We know that a diverse microbiome is a healthy one. With a wide variety of different species of bacteria, it’s more resilient and more capable. Each of your bugs has a specialized role like breaking down foods, fighting infections, or creating specific chemicals that your body needs to function at its best. So the greater the diversity in your gut, the larger the variety and breadth of skills your team of bugs have.
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 diversity and a healthier gut.
The ZOE app actually helps you discover those foods that are particularly good for your gut health.
The new discoveries that will help you
During our PREDICT nutrition studies, three of the world’s top gut microbiome scientists, Nicola Segata, Curtis Huttenhower and Tim Spector, discovered new connections between the microbiome, diet and metabolism. These include new links with 30 key bacteria that can be found in the gut and that could play a role in how our bodies respond to food.
Our scientists were also able to discover positive and negative links between certain foods and these bacteria, which make it possible to give you suggestions about what you may eat to positively affect your microbiome and metabolism.
Your gut health is one piece of the puzzle
While food can impact your gut health, remember that it can affect other parts of your biology too, like your blood sugar and blood fat.
ZOE combines all these factors to recommend the best foods for your overall biology, helping you to reduce dietary inflammation and support your gut.