Geographical Differences in Our Microbiomes

Written by Tasha Merchant on Aug 18, 2022

# Information # Probiotics

The composition of the human microbiome varies widely across geographically distinct populations. A balanced microbiome is crucial for maintaining immune homeostasis, and dysbiosis, or harmful changes to microbial balance can contribute to autoimmune and metabolic disorders, altered innate and adaptive immune responses, and inflammation. Genes and our environment both heavily play roles in the shaping of microbiomes across cultures.  


In cross-culture studies, the microbiome at five major body habitats—Gut, Oral-cavity, Respiratory Tract, Skin, and Urogenital Tract–were studied in depth. In most cases, cultural/behavioral factors like diet, hygiene, parasitic load, environmental exposure, etc. interact with genetic factors for geographical/racial variations in microbiome structure. Furthermore, a more balanced microbiome has been thought to lead to improved metabolic function and enhanced resistance to infection. 

Credit: Philip Dubé, PhD



Microbiome diversity and composition shifted as human populations transitioned between foraging, farming, and living in an industrialized and urbanized world. In general, gut microbiome of the hunter-gatherer (more rural) populations is highly abundant with Prevotella, Proteobacteria, Spirochaetes, Clostridiales, Ruminobacter etc., while those of the urban communities are often enriched in Bacteroides, Bifidobacterium, and Firmicutes. All populations, regardless of geography, ethnicity, or mode of subsistence, do share a set of genera, so there is an overlap of microbial composition across the globe. 

Understanding the similarities and vast differences in microbiome structure across culture and region allows for a geographically tailored community-scale approach to microbiome engineering. Probiotics, for example, can be used by everyone, and they are a simple and effective way to get the beneficial bacteria you need for a healthy gut and microbiome. They are also beneficial for alleviating inflammation caused by dysbiosis, which occurs when there is an imbalance within the microflora populations leading to harmful bacterial proliferation. This is something everyone can experience, regardless of culture or geographical location. 

Credit: Front Microbiol

At intō, we acknowledge the differences in East Asian and North American microbiome compositions, and our formulations rely on understanding and scientific wisdom around natural/clean skincare suitable for all climate and regional microbiome tendencies. By working closely with our in-house chemists in Japan and Niche Skin Labs in Toronto, we mastered formulations that are safe and effective for everyone, reflecting our philosophy of balance.