Rainforests have been hailed as the undisputed champions of biodiversity among the world’s natural ecosystems, containing far higher numbers of species on a per-area basis than any other place on the planet. Though rainforests cover less than 2 percent of Earth’s total surface area, they are home to 50 percent of Earth’s plants and animals.
But there is a not-so-new “new comer” to the biodiversity race that is worth our consideration (and appreciation). Hands-down the real winner in diversity is your gut, which is home to some 100 trillion microorganisms with over 400 species. It’s probably one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet!
Just as the rainforests are vitally important, producing most of the oxygen we breathe and providing habitat for half of the planet’s flora and fauna, the gut microbiome, which contains literally trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms, collectively known as gut microbiota, biologically influence almost every body function from digesting food to regulating metabolism and influencing our emotions and mood to controlling sympathetic responses.
When we try to unravel and understand the complexity of seemingly simple biological entities like a rainforest or human body, we realize that they are far more complex than ever imagined—they are made up of numerous interconnected and co-dependent sub-systems. A change in a single component within any one system might have a detrimental effect on the functioning of its partners, or even on the system as a whole. In effect, if you pull on a single thread in a tapestry, you may just unravel the whole thing.
Introducing the holobiome, which is a good word to describe what the human being is both from a structural and functional perspective.
Holobiome literally means, “super organism”. If you look at human beings from the outside, we are more or less a structural organism—bones, muscles, tissue etc. But if you just go a bit deeper and look at the functional level, you’ll find we are covered in hundreds of thousands of microbes and its THEIR genetics that helps us function.
This diverse population of microorganisms plays an important role in determining physical traits—how you look, your vitality and physicality—and lots of other things about you. They along with your own human genes, contain the information that makes you who you are.
But remember your genes alone don’t determine your life or health outcomes—it’s how they are expressed that matters most. The concept of the environment playing a vital role in gene expression is called epigenetics. Just as an example, monogenic diseases or diseases that result from errors within a single gene are exceedingly rare. In fact, less than 1% of all diseases fall within this category.
So really the notion that your life is predestined pretty much by your genes is not entirely correct. In fact, most chronic health conditions seen today are due primarily to epigenetic factors, which in most cases are within your ability to control.
You Are More Alien Than Human
When it comes right down to it, the human species is not that advanced genetically compared to things like an earthworm. According to findings from the Human Genome Project, the human genome consists of between 20,000 and 25,000 functioning genes (most figures clock the count at roughly 22,000). But in the case of our friend the earthworm, they have 38,000 – 40,000 genes.
Let’s take the math one step further. The 3.5 million microbial genes both enhance and improve upon your own measly 22,000 human genes, which means your every day functions pretty much come from the genetic components of your microbes. So the math says it all—you are more alien genetic material than human.
All those millions of microbial genes go about their everyday lives providing benefits to their human hosts with not a wink of recognition. If you think life and good health is about being sterile, clean, and free of so-called “germs”… think again.
In order to have a healthy gut, brain, nervous system, immune system, and pretty much overall body, you must get dirty! The key ingredient to well-being lies in having a healthy AND diverse microbiome.
- Hands-down the diversity winner is your gut, which is home to some 100 trillion microorganisms with over 400 species
- The gut microbiome, which contains literally trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms, biologically influences almost every body function
- Humans are a Holobiome, which literally means, “super organism”
- But remember your genes alone don’t determine your life or health outcomes—it’s how they are expressed that matters most
- Compare the 3.5 million microbial genes to your own measly 22,000 human genes—you are more alien genetic material than human.
Disclaimer: the views and nutritional advice expressed in this publication are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical advice. No information provided should be interpreted as a diagnosis of any disease, nor an attempt to treat or prevent or cure any disease or condition. All information in this publication is for educational purposes only and Aine-Marie and Advesta Health encourages its clients and members to continue to work in a partnership with qualified medical professional. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider or seek medical assistance. Reading, sharing, or downloading this publication does not establish a doctor patient relationship with Aine-Marie or any Advesta Health employee or consultant including any of our licensed health practitioners, coaches, dieticians or nutritionists.