photo courtesy of Katie Scott Nature.com
What are they? - microbiota is an "ecological community of commensal, symbiotic and pathogenic microorganisms" found in and on all multicellular organisms, microbiota includes bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi and viruses.
What do they do? - we depend on a vast army of microbes to stay alive, they protect us against germs, break down food, release energy & produce vitamins.
How can we help? - feed them! If microbiota don't receive enough nutrients in the diet they begin to feed on us, they actually eat into the mucosal layer protecting the gut, leading to all sorts of problems.
Which diet is best? - nutrient intake depends on your symptoms, so there is no - one size fits all approach. Severe symptoms may require temporary restrictive diet, while milder symptoms may just need a boost in fibre.
Are probiotics helpful? - again not a one size fits all thing, probiotics contain different strains of bacteria, so get advice on this, otherwise you are literally throwing your money down the toilet!
Is microbiome gene testing helpful? - No. It is currently only helpful to the people collecting information for their data banks. There is currently no testing that can diagnose or offer a treatment protocol specific to your needs. After all they are only testing what's coming out.
Some microbiome enhancing foods include: banana, honey, rye, potato lentils, flax seeds, whole grains, blueberries, plums, cocoa, kiwi and beetroot.