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Bacteria and Your Circadian Rhythm: How Your Microbiome Influences Your Internal Clock

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Your body is composed of about 30 trillion human cells and 39 trillion bacterial cells. That’s right. On a cellular level, you are mostly made up of bacteria. No wonder there’s been a recent surge in probiotic yogurt advertisements!

The human microbiome, or collection of microbes that live inside the human body, has been at the forefront of scientific research for the past few decades. Studies are steadily revealing the crucial role of microbes in human health, from digestion and immunity to psychological well-being. One of the latest developments in the field is that our gut microbiome may directly influence our circadian rhythm.

Virtually every living being on earth has a circadian rhythm. In humans, this is a roughly 24-hour cycle that regulates things like alertness, metabolism, muscle tone, and a host of other crucial processes. It’s partially regulated by external influences, like light, but is also governed from the inside. Disrupting it, especially over long periods, carries massive health consequences that many researchers believe we’ve only scratched the surface of.

It turns out that your gut bacteria not only have their own circadian rhythm, but very likely influence yours. A study on mice revealed that these bacteria make tiny movements around the intestinal lining according to a 24-hour cycle. This doesn’t sound like much, but when you consider that the human gut gut is populated by trillions of bacteria, all those little micrometre shifts translate to big changes in the type of bacteria the surface cells of your intestine are exposed to. This, in turn, means that the cells are exposed to different metabolites on a regular cycle, which according to this groundbreaking study, seems to seriously influence the host’s circadian rhythm.

What does this mean for your health? The role of gut health in overall well-being is far from well understood, but so far, the evidence suggests it’s not something you should overlook. If you experience digestive issues on a regular basis, have a chat with your healthcare professional. It may be worth taking a good probiotic supplement if you’re not already, keeping in mind that these supplements, as well as yogurt products, vary widely in quality. Consult your healthcare professional to develop a gut-care regimen appropriate for you.

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