What Is The Gut Microbiome?

What is the gut microbiome | Aerhealth Digest

The Gut Microbiome, often the subject of everything from cancer research news to greek yogurt commercials, is the trillions upon trillions of non-human microorganisms – bacteria, fungi, and even viruses that live inside your digestive tract at any given time.

Is this a bad thing?

Don’t worry, these microorganisms are not dangerous or even bad for you, actually, when healthy, these microorganisms can help boost your immune system, break down toxic food compounds, and help process essential vitamins and amino acids in your digestive system. There is emerging evidence that having a healthy gut microbiome can improve the efficacy of certain cancer treatments, and help prevent the development of certain chronic diseases.

A Short Glossary

Before we dive deeper, here’s a short glossary of the commonly used terms you might encounter in discussions of the gut microbiome.

Microbiota: The collective community of organisms or microbes

Microbiome: Used to reference the genes of all the microbes living in an environment. The gut microbiome refers to the microbes living in the intestinal tract.

Probiotics: Live microorganisms that provide a health benefit to the host when given in an sufficient amount.

Bacteria: Single celled live microscopic organisms commonly shaped like a rod, sphere, spiral or comma. They can be good or bad.

How does the Gut Microbiome develop?

Research indicates that our gut microbiomes start developing whilst we were still in the womb, with your mom’s diet possibly influencing the microbial diversity of your gut. Other factors that may affect our gut microbiome include the method of delivery, whether you were born via Caesarean or vaginally, if you were breastfed, genetics, external environment, medication usage and diet.

Probiotics and the Gut Microbiome?

Probiotics, a now billion-dollar industry, are live bacteria supplements that can aid in digestion, cramps, and even overall health. However, most doctors agree that unless an adult is suffering from an intestinal disruption, such as diarrhea or from antibiotic consumption, it is unclear how much of a difference a probiotic supplement will make in improving overall health for a healthy person. Since probiotics are not regulated by the FDA, claims made my manufacturers do not need to be backed up by robust clinical evidence.

How do I boost the health of my Gut Microbiome?

While there is plenty of research that proves how important the health of your gut microbiome is, there is less clarity on how to boost microbiome health as we still do not know what constitutes a healthy gut. Though indicators such as normal stool habits, your body’s ability to fight off infections and proper absorption of nutrients, can be used as evidence that your gut is functioning well. Although there isn’t a clear understanding of the composition of a healthy microbiome, the best evidence currently available for improving your gut health is increasing your microbial diversity.

Doctors state that an overall shift in diet, one that is rich in dietary fiber made up of fruits, vegetables, and fiber-rich beans and starches, can go a long way in ensuring the diversity of your gut microbiome as well as benefiting your overall health. Just be sure to avoid loading up on the fiber too fast, as that could cause some digestive discomfort. Other steps that promote better gut health include getting adequate sleep, managing stress and exercising

List of Cheeses That Are Low in Lactose

Cheese lovers this one’s for you! Think a lactose intolerance means having to give up cheese entirely, then think again. We have a tasty list of cheeses that are naturally low in lactose which will keep you grinning ear to ear.

What is Lactose?

Lactose is a dissacharide or the ‘D in FODMAP’ and contains two monosaccharides (single sugars). It is the primary sugar in milk and is often mistaken to be present in all dairy products. However, this is not the case and some dairy products can be low in or free of lactose, such as certain cheeses.

What cheeses are low in lactose?

A simple way to estimate lactose content in cheese is by looking at whether it’s a hard or soft cheese and the age. During the cheesemaking process, whey is removed from the curd (hard part of cheese). Since most of the lactose content is found in the whey, harder cheeses tend to have a lower lactose content compared to their softer counterparts. Hard, aged cheeses usually have the least amount of lactose. This is because during the fermentation process lactose is transformed into lactic acid.


Soft Cheeses

  • Camembert
  • Brie
  • Feta
  • Ricotta (Consume in moderation)
  • Cottage Cheese (Consume in moderation)

Hard Cheeses

  • Gorgonzola
  • Stilton Blue
  • Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Gruyere
  • Edam
  • Gouda
  • Cheddar
  • Parmesan

Lactose Content in Soft and Hard Cheeses

Lactose Content (grams per 100g)
Hard Cheese
~ 0
Hard Cheese
0 – 1.4
Fresh Cheese
0 – 1.8
Fresh Cheese
0 – 2.0
Hard Cheese
0 – 2.1
Hard Cheese
0 – 2.1
Parmigiano Reggiano
Hard Cheese
0.01 <
Hard Cheese
0.01 <
Stilton Blue
Hard Cheese
Hard Cheese
0.1 <
Hard Cheese
Fresh Cheese
Fresh Cheese
2 – 3.5
Cottage Cheese
Fresh Cheese

What to Keep in Mind

  1. Lactose content may vary from brand to brand.
  2. Consume cheeses in moderation even if they are low in lactose as they are high in fat which can worsen or trigger IBS symptoms.
  3. If cheeses have given you trouble in the past, start with a small quantity and see how you react.