Microbiome of the Gut

Millions of microbes enter the body at every meal and the digestive tract is a warm space filled with lots of compounds for microbes to grow on. The microbiome in each individual gets established at birth during delivery with the bacteria found in the vagina. Cesarean section delivery does not provide the same microbiome advantages.

Changes in the diet can also produce modifications in the gut micro- biome. Numerous studies have questioned the use of high-protein diets due to reduced butyrate producing bacteria and increased cadaverine, spermine, and sulfide in the feces [7-9]. Mu et al. discuss how different dietary food choices can produce changes to the microbial community caused by a high-protein diet that alters the microbial metabolites in the colons of rats compared with a normal protein diet [10].

Body weight can be influenced by the microbiome in the gut according to a twin study by researchers at King’s College London and Cornell University [11]. The National Institute of Health (NIH)-funded study accessed the genetics of microbes in over 1,000 fecal samples from 416 pairs of twins. Specific types of microbes were found to be more similar in identical twins than nonidentical twins. Health-promoting bacteria were more abundant in those with a low-body weight, which suggested to the researchers that microbes may help prevent or reduce obesity.

Sex-dependent differences in microbes living in the gut were studied at the University of Texas, Austin. Investigators found that fish and mice data showed microbe differences between males and females despite identical diets [12]. They concluded that the difference between them was related to the hormonal influence on gut microbes or the difference in the immune function that affected which microbes lived or died. Dr. Daniel Bolnick, professor in the University’s College of Natural Sciences, stated, “This means that most of the research that’s being done on lab mice-we need to treat with kid gloves.”

 
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