The Microbiome by Dr. Shadi Saffari

A healthy microbiome can benefit us, acting as if an acquired organ! It consists of a stable commensal microbial population, which does not elicit an acute immune response in normal circumstances. It is made up of thousands of different species and is associated with all surfaces of our bodies, such as the gastrointestinal tract, skin, and our respiratory tract. 

Top 5 functions of our microbiome:

  1. Gastrointestinal Function:
    Gut flora is essential to normal anatomical and physiological development of intestinal mucosa, which is responsible for secretion of waste and absorption of nutrients. Microbes liberate short chain fatty acids (SCFA) from indigestible dietary fibers.  SCFA are an important energy source for intestinal mucosa and critical for modulating immune responses. Importantly, some GIT microbiota representatives (Escherichia coli and Bacteroides fragilis) are involved in the synthesis of vitamins, such as B1, B2, B5, B6, B12, K, folic acid, and biotin.

  2. Gut Brain Connection:
    There is bi-directional signaling between brain and gut microbiota. Gut microbiomes are responsible for producing some of our neurotransmitters such as serotonin, GABA, dopamine, acetylcholine and norepinephrine. Intestinal dysbiosis, a state of microbial imbalance, can cause production of lipopolysaccharides (LPS), and inflammatory molecules, that lead to anxiety, depression and insomnia.

  3. Gut and Skin Connection
    The skin microbiome is our bodies first line of defence. These bacteria contribute to protection against pathogen growth by competing for nutrients and space. Dysbiosis in theskin microbiome has been seen in chronic inflammatory skin diseases, such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, and acne.

  4. Immune System
    Microbiota can directly prevent the invasion of the body by foreign microbes, competing with pathogenic bacteria in the gut for adhesion sites and nutrients. They can also release lactic acid, counteracting pathogen colonization. The gut microbiome specifically stimulates the normal development of the immune system as well as the maturation of immune cells. Signals derived from the commensal microbiota trigger the development of granulocyte/monocyte progenitors in the bone marrow, and hence affects tissue-resident innate immune populations, which in turn promotes the early host innate response.

  5. Impact blood sugar control
    The microbiota assist multiple metabolic operations, such as the regulation of glucose and lipid homeostasis, which manages the satisfaction of appetite more efficiently. An increasing volume of evidence from medical research, shows that any negative modification in the microbiota composition can lead to several diseases. Metabolic disease, for instance, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, can be influenced by deficiencies in microbiota.


How to Improve your Microbiome 

Eating Whole Foods:
this means eating 80% plant foods which consist of vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits. Eating whole foods ensures adequate fibre that our microbiome thrive on. High fat and high simple carbohydrate has shown to reduce butyrate (the main fuel for the cells that line the gut) production.  


Foods Rich in Antioxidants:
antioxidants will promote growth of healthy bacteria while inhibiting growth of pathogens. Green tea, berries (any purple/red /blue fruits), apples and dark chocolate are some examples. 


Eating Fermented Foods:   
cultured or fermented foods contain probiotics. Probiotics are contain live active microbes. Examples are yogurt, kefir, miso, kimchi, and sauerkraut. 


Foods Rich in Prebiotic.    
Prebiotics are any soluble fibre that feeds our microbiome.  Foods high in fructans, galactans and resistant starches fall into this category. Some foods with high source of prebiotics are onions, garlic, beets, seeds, and legumes


Shreiner, A. B., Kao, J. Y., & Young, V. B. (2015). The gut microbiome in health and in disease. Current opinion in gastroenterology, 31(1), 69.

Wu, H. J., & Wu, E. (2012). The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity. Gut microbes, 3(1), 4-14.

Sanford, J. A., & Gallo, R. L. (2013, November). Functions of the skin microbiota in health and disease. In Seminars in immunology (Vol. 25, No. 5, pp. 370-377). Academic Press.

Miele, L., Giorgio, V., Alberelli, M. A., De Candia, E., Gasbarrini, A., & Grieco, A. (2015). Impact of gut microbiota on obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease risk. Current cardiology reports, 17(12), 1-7.


A note from Marci - 
I've had the pleasure and honor of hosting several powerful Sage Conversations with 
Shadi Saffari. I am so grateful to have her as one of the Sage Experts guiding us in this community. If you haven't had the chance yet, you can watch our conversations below.


Are You Tired Of Being Tired?

With Dr. Shadi Saffari

Watch Our Conversation →

The Miraculous Microbiome

With Dr Shadi Saffari

Watch Our Conversation →