Inside every one of us is an ecosystem supporting our well-being: our microbiota. Most of us are unaware of the link between our microbiota and our well-being. However, through simple lifestyle choices we can harness the potential of our microbiota to contribute to our overall well-being.

The human microbiota is a community of trillions of microorganisms living in various places around and within the body. The largest community is in the gut. Hosting around 1,000 different species of bacteria, the diversity of our gut microbiota is important to support our inner balance. Around a third of the bacteria that make up our gut microbiota is common to all people, while two-thirds are unique to each individual.

Humans start developing their microbiota immediately after birth, picking up microorganisms from their mother in the birth canal and then acquiring more through breast milk and food over the next few years. At three or four years of age our microbiota is fully developed, but continues to evolve and change throughout our lives. It is shaped by what foods we eat and where we live, and develops into what is a fascinating symbiotic relationship. When it comes to the connection we have with our bodies, and specifically our gut microbiota, we truly only get back what we put in.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that diet plays a crucial role. Making sure that we eat well is essential to the development of our gut microbiota. Not just, as we’ve seen, from an early age when our microbiota is being formed, but throughout our lives as we get older. Starting now to gain a greater understanding of the function of the gut microbiota can help us handle our well-being at all stages of our life. And it’s not just the foods we eat that affect the development and performance of our gut microbiota. Maintaining a healthy mind is important. The gut is often referred to as the ‘second brain’, not just because of the many structural and chemical parallels between our gut and brain, but because of the constant communication between the two. Ensuring we get enough sleep, practise meditation and, where possible, minimise stress in our lives could have a huge impact on our gut microbiota. See our article on Hara and Minimalism for tips on how to maintain mindfulness and well-being.

They say ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ but when it comes to supporting your well-being, taking time to focus on the tiny great things within can set you up for many positive long-term benefits. To learn more about things related to your gut microbiota, visit — REFERENCES General: Immunity: Stress, psychological links: