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What is Gut Microbiota?


Your body contains more bacterial cells than human cells and the largest population of microorganisms resides primarily in your intestines (95% is in the large intestine) and is collectively called the gut microbiota.


The composition of gut microbiota is unique to each individual, just like our fingerprints.

The human gut microbiota consists of  100 trillion of microorganisms and approximate weight of the total gut microbiota is 1-2 kg.


More than 1,000 species of bacteria in the gut microbiome and each play a different role in the body.

The gut microbiota helps with digestion, metabolism, immune function and brain health.

Function of Gut Microbiota:

  • Produce vitamins, including B12, K & Folate 

  • Teach the immune system to tell friends from foes

  • Produce important molecules that travel around the body

  • Defend against harmful microorganisms

  • Help body to digest certain food e.g., dietary fibre

  • Help produce serotonin, influences gut-brain communication for optimal gut and brain functions


The gut contains more than 3 million microbial genes ( 150 times more than human genes).

The human genome consists of about 23,000 genes, whereas our microbiome encodes over 3 million genes. There are 150 times more genes in individual’s microbiota than in all of their cells put together. In other words, in terms of genes, humans are more than 99% microbial.

The ‘imbalance’ of our gut can cause inflammation – a potent risk factor for physical and mental disorders.

Imbalances in gut microbiota have been linked to:

  • Asthma & allergy

  • Infections

  • Obesity & metabolic disorders

  • Infantile colic and functional gastrointestinal disorders

  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

  • Aberrant behaviors and ASD


Our gut microbiome begins to develop in very early life, and is influenced by many factors.

Factors affecting gut microbiota in early life:

  • Feeding methods (breast milk, artificial milk and introduction of solid food)

  • Antibiotic use

  • Host genetics

  • Gestational age (preterm birth vs. full-term birth)

  • Delivery mode (vaginal delivery vs. C-section)

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