Gut Check: Why the Microbiome Matters
While a small portion of microbes are harmful, the majority may be beneficial to humans and animals. Antibiotic use alters the gut microbiome so that its population is decreased. If taken during pregnancy, antibiotic use can lead to the offspring having a higher chance of obesity and colitis. Though antibiotics are a very useful drug, usage needs to be reserved for times when they are needed, not as a precaution. Overuse leads to a resistance build up, making the antibiotics less effective when they are truly needed. Microbial diversity is diminishing with every generation with more chronic diseases arising as a result. Microbes are acquired shortly after birth, with a mature microbiome being developed in humans by the age of 3. breast feeding is beneficial to the microbiome, while C-sections, chemical preservation of food and excessive sanitation are some harmful practices. Diseases linked to altered gut microbiota diversity are diabetes, obesity, eating disorders, colorectal cancer and Parkinson’s. Probiotics are a possible solution as they improve the microbiome, though some are more effective than others. They are often poorly regulated and only have moderate benefits, but with no side effects it can be worth a shot, though selecting the right one is crucial. Fecal transplants can be done to repopulate healthy microbial cells and can be a cure for colitis. Microbial ecosystem therapeutics are being developed and are more effective than probiotics. The pig’s microbiome is very similar to that of a human and many of the same effects are seen when pigs have a poor ecosystem of microbiota.
Gut Check – Why the Microbiome Matters (full article)