OUR bodies are covered in microscopic creatures, including bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Not surprisingly the vast majority of this microscopic life resides in our gut. Scientists have discovered that more than 50% of the human body’s total cell count is made up of microbes.  

Understanding this human microbiome is leading to new innovative treatments for many conditions including neurological diseases and allergies.

More interestingly, our ‘human’ cells only account for between 0.01 and 1% of the total number of genes in our bodies. Some scientists now say that by combining with our own DNA, the genes of our ‘microbiome’ augment the activity of our own cells thereby playing a pivotal role in health, wellbeing and disease.

Scientists now believe that this resident microbial material effects how our bodies work and are studying the role the microbiome plays in digestion, regulating the immune system, protecting against disease and manufacturing vital vitamins.

This revolutionary way of thinking about microbes promises to change medicine. Historically we have fought microbes with antibiotics, vaccines and gene focused therapy, but perhaps all that is about to change.  

Whilst many of these innovations have been good and saved lives, they may also have done untold damage to our ‘good bacteria’.

Over the last 50 years there has been a huge increase in the incidence of autoimmune disease, allergy, and cancer which we now think may be linked to our microbiomes and which some now associate with specific diseases including inflammatory bowel disease, Parkinson’s, depression and autism.

Furthermore, there is clear evidence that gut bacteria may play a role in some cases of obesity.

Whilst family history clearly plays a role, more importantly portion size, and a diet of burgers, sugary drinks, processed food and chocolate will significantly affect both your risk of obesity and the type of microbes that grow in your digestive tract. Research suggests that a bad mix of bacteria metabolizes food in a way that contributes to obesity.

Experiments have shown that  feeding lean sterile mice (without any bacteria) faecal bacteria from obese humans results in obese mice and that reversing the bacteria, makes the mice thin again! 

In the future, microbes could become a new form of medicine and it has been suggested that we should be taking bugs instead of drugs which has led to a growth in probiotic consumption.  

Research now suggests that repairing someone’s microbiome can actually lead to remission of diseases such as ulcerative colitis, a type of inflammatory bowel disease. This might also be true in some cases of obesity.

In the future we may need to monitor our microbiome on a daily basis in order to record information about our health. The evidence clearly suggests that these tiny microbes transform our health in ways we are only just beginning to understand.  

Cambridge Weight Plan – www.cwpespana.es – 952 58 63 24

Staff Reporter

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