How important are Gut Microbes for the body

Our microbiome is the collection of all the microbes associated with our body. In our gut alone we have around 100 trillion microbes, which is the same number of cells we have in our entire body.

Have you ever faced the dilemma of choosing between organic food and inorganic food or sushi and ice cream or to go for kale or mango? It is way too easy to assume what is healthy based on popular notions that people often forget to ask the right question before choosing the best option for ourselves- “What is healthy for my body?”. 

Like no two people are alike, their bodies are also different and so is its reaction to different foods we eat. For example, someone might assume that Sushi is a healthier option than ice cream, but this is not the case for everyone as studies have found blood sugar level elevated in people who had sushi as compared to people who had ice cream and the reason behind it are Gut Microbes.

Our microbiome is the collection of all the microbes associated with our body. In our gut alone we have around 100 trillion microbes, which is the same number of cells we have in our entire body. The microbes in our body weight close to 2 kg, more than the weight of an average human liver! We can thus regard our internal microbes as a ‘neglected organ’ that is only starting to reveal its important functions. These trillions of microbial inhabitants in our gut determine how our bodies react to everything we ingest. Like how every human has a unique DNA code or unique fingerprint, similarly Gut Bacteria or microbiome function a different way in all human beings. In simple words, your microbiome is unique to you and influences the way your body reacts to different foods. 

The microbiome inside our bodies dictates many aspects of our health – and is as individual as we are. It is believed that the gut microbiome begins to affect your body the moment you are born. As you grow, your gut microbiome begins to diversify. Higher microbiome diversity is considered good for your health. The gut microbiome also helps us digest. It is assumed that we get 10%-20% of our energy with the its help. 

The gut microbiome also trains our immune system and teaches it to identify friends and foes among bacteria hence its diversity is important. For example, the gut microbiome of obese individuals is typically different than that of non-obese individuals. It is usually less diverse than that of lean people. Therefore, there are several different ways in which the gut microbiome can affect key bodily functions and influence your health.

By developing new ways of deeply characterizing our microbiome, we may be able to predict different people’s tendencies to develop disease, or react to medications, therefore transforming the currently empiric medicine into individualized, or precision medicine. In our vision, the microbiome and other health parameters would enable physicians to prescribe person-specific diets, medications, and life recommendations that would prevent, slow-down or even cure common human disease.

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