As you’ve likely been hearing more and more about the bodies’ microbiome lately, you may be wondering what scientific research has been showing. Far from a fad, the microbiome is becoming a huge opportunity for growth in both wellness and medicine, with a large body of ongoing studies revolving around it. Some may be surprised to find out how much the microbes in the gut affect our overall health!
Here’s just a few findings from recent microbiome research to help keep you educated on an exciting area of study.
The Microbiome Can Revolutionize Precision Medicine
We’ve known for a while that the microbiome can help maintain our health. For instance, it provides us natural resistance to pathogens. However, science is only now tapping into these abilities. As medicine advances, research believe that treatments will be able to be made for people based on their own microbiomes—taking advantage of what the person already has, and adding what is necessary. One of the areas that could take advantage of this is gut health, but treatments could be far more ranging than that.1
Long-Reaching Effects Based on Breast-to-Cow-Milk in Infant MicrobiomeIt’s widely acknowledged that diet affects the composition of the gut microbiome, but this study showed that the transition from breast to cow milk in infants specifically changed the types of bacteria present in the gut. This study shows a significant change in the infant’s microbiome took place within only five days and was permanent.2 The early years of one’s life are important for a number of reasons, including the proper development of a microbiome, and this research helps paint a clearer picture of how exactly that happens.
Effects of Environmental Chemicals on the Gut MicrobiomeIn our day-to-day lives, we live with chemicals all around us, but how do they affect our microbiomes? A recent study set out to discover how. Exposing rats to three common chemicals found in personal care products—diethyl phthalate, methylparaben and triclosan. Looking at the composition of their gut microbiomes in both adolescence and adulthood, researchers found a major effect. The major change was only seen in adolescent rats. By the time rats reached adulthood, the differences had diminished, despite the fact that the researchers continued to expose them to the same amount of chemicals. Though more research is needed to further understand the results of this study, it is another piece of data showing how many factors can possibly affect the gut microbiome.3
Gut Microbiome and Bone HealthIt turns out, in addition to all the other benefits a healthy microbiome gives us, it can also help promote optimal bone health. In addition to the gut-brain axis, science is looking into the gut-brain-bone axis and how it can affect us. It may support healthy bone physiology through the positive influence of hormones that are created in the brain. The possible wide-ranging impacts of the microbiome continually amaze us.4
Development of the Preterm Infant Gut MicrobiomeAnother study looked at how the gut microbiome of infants develops, this time focusing on very low weight births. What they found was that not only is the early infant gut microbiome important for regulating the development of various bodily functions, but its development in early life can have repercussions into childhood and adulthood. This study also concluded that feeding the child with a mother’s milk is important in the creation of a gut microbiome. They also found that babies born with a very low weight are likely to develop an imbalance in their microbiome.5
Recent Findings are Clear: Our Microbiome is Important to our Health
It’s amazing how many aspects of our health the microbiome touches. With how much research has already been done, we will undoubtedly hear more in the near future about other ways a good microbiome can help maintain a healthy, vibrant life. Supplementation can be a great way to proactively improve the gut microbiome. There are quite a few things that may help do this, including Probiotics, Omega-3s and Black Rice Vinegar
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1 Petrosino, J. F. (2018) The microbiome in precision medicine: the way forward. Genome Medicine, 10(12). doi:10.1186/s13073-018-0525-6
2 Davis, M. Y., Zhang, H., Brannan, L. E., Carman, R. J., & Boone, J. H. (2016) Rapid change of fecal microbiome and disappearance of Clostridium difficile in a colonized infant after transition from breast milk to cow milk. Microbiome, 4(53). doi: 10.1186/s40168-016-0198-6
3 Hu, J., Raikhel, V., Gopalakrishnan, K., Fernandez-Hernandez, H., Lambertini, L., Manservisi, F., Falcioni, L., Bua, L., Belpoggi, F., Teitelbaum, S. L., and Chen, J. (2016) Effect of postnatal low-dose exposure to environmental chemicals on the gut microbiome in a rodent model. Microbiome, 4(26). doi: 10.1186/s40168-016-0173-2
4 Quach, D., & Britton, R. A. (2017) Gut Microbiota and Bone Health. Understanding the Gut-Bone Signaling Axis: Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 1033, 47-58. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-66653-2_4
5 Groer, M. W., Luciano, A. A., Dishaw, L. J., Ashmeade, T. L., Miller, E., & Gilbert, J. A. (2014) Development of the preterm infant gut microbiome: a research priority. Microbiome, 2(38). doi: 10.1186/2049-2618-2-38
6 Baxter, N. T., Zackular, J. P., Chen, G. Y., & Schloss, P. D. (2014) Structure of the gut microbiome following colonization with human feces determines colonic tumor burden. Microbiome, 2(20). doi: 10.1186/2049-2618-2-20
7 Giloteaux, L., Goodrich, J. K., Walters, W. A., Levine, S. M., Ley, R. E., & Hanson, M. R. (2016) Reduced diversity and altered composition of the gut microbiome in individuals with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. Microbiome, 4(30). doi: 10.1186/s40168-016-0171-4