WHAT’S IN YOUR MICROBIOME?
The gut microbiome is a complex, everchanging ecosystem of microorganisms that collectively can weigh up to 2kg – heavier than an adult human brain. Your thronging gut world is dominated by about 100 trillion bacteria, some are nasty, but many are essential to keeping our minds and bodies functioning healthily.
Less is understood about what scientists refer to as the ‘silent population’ of gutresiding fungi, such as Candida
albicans. They only account for about one per cent of the microbiome, but they live in symbiosis with the bacteria and other microbes. Scientists are only just starting to study their role in the gut community in terms of disease susceptibility and immunity.
Yeasts are simply single-celled fungi. The aforementioned Candida albicans is a yeast, which is why too much of it can be referred to as both a yeast and a fungal infection.
These single-celled organisms were once classified as animals; they can move independently, be predatory and feed on organic matter. Most of them are harmless, and some are even being investigated as potential dogooders, but others can cause terrible diarrhoea and are a strong reason to wash your hands before eating.
These tiny wonders are more usually found living in hot springs. But among the handful that inhabit the human gut are important members of the ‘A-team’ of microbes, which support the complex process of digestion for us by playing an essential role in breaking down complex sugars.