Microbiome myths and facts

Microbiome Myths and Facts

In recent years, researchers have increasingly studied the human microbiome and how it affects our health. As a result, we have learned much more about the microbiome but many myths surrounding it have also emerged.

To help you separate fact from fiction, learn about your microbiome, and improve your gut health, we will unravel the truth about your microbiome and explore the factors that affect it positively and negatively.

What is the Microbiome?

Your microbiome is the sum of communities of bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live in your body.1 Unlike your genome, which is fixed, the human microbiome is dynamic.
Your microbiome is so complex that some scientists call it the [second human genome]( and refer to it as a separate organ.2
The microbiome varies between people. It can change at any time depending on factors such as diet, medicine and stress.3
You may have heard that the different parts of your body have a unique microbiome, for example, the gut microbiome and the vaginal microbiome. This is true. Below, we explain more about the gut and vaginal microbiome.

What is the Microbiome?

The microbiome in your gut is the community of microbes living in your gut. Your gut microbiome has trillions of bacteria in it. Some are good and others are not so good.

Having the right kinds of good bacteria in your gut can prevent digestive issues and improve your gut health.

This is where probiotics come in. Probiotics are good, live bacteria that you can add to your gut to promote your digestive health. They can:

  • Help your body digest food
  • Produce more nutrients for your body
  • Some can even help with occasional digestive

Your vaginal microbiome

Although your gut has the most diverse microbiome, your vaginal microbiome is also complex. The vaginal microbiome is dominated by species of Lactobacillus bacteria.4

There is a symbiotic relationship between your body and your vaginal microbiome. Your body provides nutrients for the bacteria to grow, and the vaginal microbiome plays an important role in supporting feminine health. One of the roles scientists believe Lactobacillus plays in the vaginal microbiome is promoting a healthy vaginal pH.4

What Affects the Microbiome?

What you eat, stress, and travel can all throw your microbiome off balance.

Let’s look at some of these factors that can affect the microbiome.

  • Diet: What you eat plays an important role supporting your microbiome. As a result, healthy diets are increasing in popularity. Some of these diets advocate consuming more foods that contain probiotics and fermented food. While this is helpful, it is important to remember that not all fermented foods contain probiotics. Also, some foods may contain bacteria strains which lack scientific research supporting their benefits. Without quality research on the strains being used in the food or product we don’t know if they can provide health benefits.

  • Stress: Generally accepted as being negative for overall health, stress can also impact the balance of your microbiome and your gut health. Rest and give your body the time to recuperate. Start by adding some additional relaxation time into your schedule. Read, stretch, meditate, or simply do anything that helps you relax and de-stress. While this is often easier said than done, it is an important part of maintaining good health.

  • Travel: It’s great to get out and explore but it can also lead to significant changes in routine and diet. Your microbiome is constantly changing and reacting to its environment so changes when traveling can lead to your microbiome and digestive system feeling off balance. Reinforcing your gut microbiome with probiotics adds good bacteria, but they can take time to provide benefits so make sure you stick with it. If you regularly take probiotics, keep up with your gut health routine while you’re away and bring them with you!

Microbiome Myths & Facts

Myth: You only have a gut microbiome

Your body has many microbiomes, including the gut, vagina, and skin each of which is made up of its own unique combination of microbes. While the gut microbiome is the most extensively studied, there are probiotics available to support the microbiome of other parts of the body too.

Align Women’s Dual Action includes 3 different probiotic strains, 2 of which support vaginal health*:

Lactobacillus acidophilus La-14®
Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus HN001

Myth: All bacteria are bad

Your gut microbiome has billions of beneficial bacteria, and probiotics like Align can add more healthy bacteria to your digestive system.*

Fact: You can add good bacteria to your gut

Taking probiotic supplements daily can help add good bacteria to your gut. As a pro in probiotics, Align understands the science behind different strains of probiotics and their benefits and supports taking a probiotic supplement every day.

Myth: All probiotics are the same

While Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria are common genus for probiotics to belong to, they do not all provide the same benefits. Probiotics offer different benefits based on their strain. The strain being the combination of letters and numbers at the end of the bacteria’s name. For example the difference in the Bifidobacteria strains BB12® and 35624™: Bifidobacterium lactis BB12®, found in Align Daily Immune Support, can help support a balanced and healthy immune system.* Another strain, Bifidobacterium 35624, found in Align 24/7 Digestive Support§, can help promote a healthy digestive system and help soothe occasional abdominal discomfort, gas, and bloating.*

Myth: You can get all your probiotics from food

Foods like yogurt kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut are often said to be ‘probiotic foods.’ However, they are actually only fermented foods. Not all fermented foods have strains of live bacteria that are scientifically proven to benefit your body. Lactobacillus is commonly used to make yogurt but if the product does not tell you the specific strain used there is no way to confirm if it has been studied for a health benefit. After confirming that the food actually contains probiotic strains shown to provide a benefit, you’d have to ensure you’re consuming a sufficient amount of those fermented foods daily to get their probiotic benefits from food.

Align 24/7 Digestive Support §* is a great way to add more good bacteria to help promote your gut health in an easy-to-take capsule you can make part of your daily health routine.*

Why Align is the #1 Doctor Recommended Probiotic Brand ‡

Align 24/7 Digestive Support §* features a unique probiotic strain, Bifidobacterium 35624TM, which is supported by over 20 years of research.

Since 2008, when gastroenterologists in the United States were asked what brand of probiotic they recommend, Align has remained their top choice. With Align’s advanced packaging, it guarantees enough cultures will stay alive to deliver an effective amount through the product’s shelf life.

While we continue to learn more about the microbiome, more myths will likely emerge. Next time you hear news about the microbiome, you should separate the myths and facts and make the best choice for your health.


  1. Amon P, Sanderson I. What is the microbiome? Arch Dis Child - Educ Pract Ed. 2017;102(5):257-260. doi:10.1136/archdischild-2016-311643
  2. Ferranti EP, Dunbar SB, Dunlop AL, Corwin EJ. 20 things you didn’t know about the human gut microbiome. J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2014;29(6):479-481. doi:10.1097/JCN.0000000000000166
  3. Lozupone CA, Stombaugh JI, Gordon JI, Jansson JK, Knight R. Diversity, stability and resilience of the human gut microbiota. Nature. 2012;489(7415):220-230. doi:10.1038/nature11550
  4. Ma B, Forney LJ, Ravel J. Vaginal microbiome: rethinking health and disease. Annu Rev Microbiol. 2012;66:371-389. doi:10.1146/annurev-micro-092611-150157