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Gram-negative Bacteroidetes and grampositive Firmicutes are bacterial phyla that dominate the entire human digestive tract, including the mouth, nose, throat, and colon. An abnormal result in one or both of these phylum suggest imbalanced normal microbes in the GI tract. Further, high Firmicutes and low Bacteroidetes (resulting in a high F/B ratio) suggest microbial imbalance which may be related to increased caloric extraction from food, fat deposition and lipogenesis, impaired insulin sensitivity, and increased inflammation.

What does it mean if your Firmicutes result is too low?

Gram-positive Firmicutes are bacterial phyla that dominate the entire human digestive tract, including the mouth, nose, throat, and colon.

The majority of the bacteria that live in our gut are anaerobes, or unable to live in oxygen. Both Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes are anaerobes. Researchers observe a higher ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes in obese humans, while in leaner humans, a higher ratio of Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes can be found.

Researchers have found that Firmicutes are better at extracting energy from food as compared to Bacteroidetes. This means that if you have a large Firmicutes population in your microbiome, more of your food will be converted to energy for the body to use or store as fat. This ultimately means you are consuming more calories than someone that has a higher ratio of Bacteroidetes, even if you are consuming the same exact thing.

- One recent study [L] linked/associated a low Firmicutes level in the gut microbiota with depressed patients:

[...] This study found that there is a significant disorder of gut microbiota in the patients with depression, in which the Firmicutes decreased significantly. Defects of the Firmicutes may lead to the depression in short-chain fatty acids, which could account for the physiological basis of low-level inflammation of depression.[...]

- Other data suggests that lower Firmicutes have generally been related to a lower BMI (=Body Mass Index).

What does it mean if your Firmicutes result is too high?

Possible causes:

- Poor diet

- Dysbiosis

- Maldigestion

- Hypochlorhydria

Possible therapeutic Approaches & Considerations:

- Balance commensal bacteria

- When Firmicutes phyla is high, consider using Bifidobacteria probiotics and Saccharomyces boulardii primarily.

- Lactobacillus spp. and Bacillus spp. (found in probiotics) can elevate Firmicutes

- Optimize the diet; a lower fat diet may help to normalize Firmicutes levels

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