b'The Gut-Immunity CONNECTION A full 70 percent of your immune systems cells actually reside in the gut, which brings us back to the importance of the microbiome. An estimated 1,000 species of bacteria and other beneficial microorganisms (known collectively as the microbiome) inhabit our lower digestive tract. Essentially another organ in your body, according to Shayne Morris, PhD, a molecular biologist at Systemic Formulas in Ogden, Utah, the microbiome helps you digest foods, create nutrients (such as vitamin K), combat pathogens (which can cause illness) and plays a critical role in the development of your immune system.T hats just the tip of the iceberg, though. Mounting evidence suggests your microbiome may play an important role in everything from autoimmune diseases to obesity. Scientists are continually uncovering new things about the microbiome and what it does. If collected together, the contents of all this good bacteria would occupy about three pints. Antibiotics, food poisoning, stomach flu, poor eating habits and a lack of dietary fiber all upset the normal balance. On the flipside, scientists have gleaned that a more diverse bacteria population, which in large part comes from eating a wide variety of plant foods, is healthier than a narrow range.Brought to you by & 4'