How Your Gut Microbiome Influences Your Mental and Physical Health

By Dr. Mercola

Your body houses some 100 trillion bacteria, and about 1 quadrillion viruses (bacteriophages). In essence, we’re little more than walking microbe colonies, seeing how these bacteria outnumber your cells 10 to 1, and the bacteriophages in turn outnumber bacteria 10 to 1.

These organisms perform a wide variety of functions, and we’ve now come to realize that they need to be properly balanced and nourished if we want to maintain good physical and mental health.

While the Human Genome Project (HGP) was expected to result in gene-based therapies to more or less rid us of disease, it actually revealed that your genetic makeup plays a much smaller role than anyone imagined.

Your genes, as it turns out, are only responsible for about 10 percent of diseases.1

The remaining 90 percent are induced by environmental factors, and researchers are now realizing that your microbiome may be among the most important factors, as genes are turned on and off depending on which microbes are present!

Emerging science also shows that your microbiome can be rapidly altered, for better or worse, based on factors such as diet, lifestyle, and chemical exposures.

This is a double-edged sword, no doubt, considering how many of our modern conveniences (such as processed foods, antibiotics, and pesticides) turn out to be extremely detrimental to our gut flora.

On the other hand, your diet is one of the easiest, fastest, and most effective ways to improve and optimize your microbiome. So the good news is that you have a great degree of control over your health destiny.

Human DNA Contains Microbial Genes

Remarkably, some of the most recent research suggests bacteria may even have played a role in the diversification and alteration of human DNA, by way of horizontal gene transfer.2 , 3

According to researchers, potentially hundreds of microbial genes have slipped into our

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