When you hear the word "bacteria," you probably think of something bad, like the kind of bacteria that causes infections. But the truth is, there are all kinds of bacteria living in your body right at this moment, especially in your gut. These bacteria are known as your gut microbiome, and many of them are actually good for you.
"The microbiome is defined as as 'community of microbes,'" Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of Ancient Nutrition and DrAxe.com, tells Bustle. "Our individual microbiomes are sometimes called our 'genetic footprints' since they help determine our unique DNA, hereditary factors, predisposition to diseases, body type or body 'set point weight,' and much more. The vast majority of the bacterial species that make up our microbiome live in our digestive systems. Believe it or not, your microbiome is home to trillions of microbes, diverse organisms that help govern nearly every function of the human body in some way. The importance of our gut microbiome cannot be overstated."
Since the microbiome's effects are so far-reaching, taking good care of it will improve your overall health. Here are some things experts sayyou should know in order to keep your microbiome — and yourself — healthy.