The Newly Discovered & Most Important Organ to Be Identified!
It’s been about a month since my last accolade to the critters that line our insides. Since then, I’ve compiled about 20 pages in abstracts on the bugs in our bellies. Why does this topic fascinate me so much!? I believe it’s because our microbiome is providing the unifying and holistic language among all types of practitioners. It is to the credit of these critters lining our inner tubes for providing evidence of:
- The interconnection between all body systems.
- How our diet impacts our gut producing profound effects in wellness.
Gone is the day that separated digestive health from healing. Illya Llylch Metchnikoff can now peacefully lie in his grave, slightly smug. Metchnikoff was the famous Russian immunologist, biologist, and zoologist who shared the Noble Laureate in 1908 and is quoted for saying, “death begins in the colon.” Ridiculed in his time, like many other geniuses, he was vindicated only after his own demise.
Welcome to the emerging scientific specialty of microbiomology! It’s true. According to the Clinical Microbiology and Infection journal, “the microbiome constitutes the last human organ under active research.” The researchers explain this new emerging science as follows:
Like any other organ, the microbiome has physiology and pathology, and the individual (and collective?) health might be damaged when its collective population structure is altered. The diagnostic of microbiomic diseases involves metagenomic studies. The therapeutics of microbiome-induced pathology include microbiota transplantation, a technique increasingly available. Perhaps a new medical specialty, microbiomology, is being born. (1)
According to a recent webinar on the “Far Reach of the Microbiome: Microbiome Medicine as a New Modality of Treatment for Obesity, Autoimmune Disease and Depression” with Dr. Kellman:
“The prevailing belief is that the human genome is the key to understanding our health but the answer truly lies with the microbiome.
“The Microbiome is often referred to as The Forgotten Organ. The Invisible Organ; The Software of the Body; The Virtual Organ; The Hidden Organ.”
Dr. Kellman guided us through various studies related to the connection between the microbiome and metabolic diseases, IBD (irritable bowel disease), anxiety, depression, obesity, and more!
I learned the term “hologenome.” Dr. Keller explained this concept as the combination of the host’s genome and its associated microbiome. This is considered an organism’s total genome, “in which the summed genetics of all members can affect health and wellness.”
It seems that the microbiome effects our cellular signaling pathways in the nucleus similar to interactions within the cell (via chromosomes and mitochondria)!
I wouldn’t be a good blogger if I kept you in suspense much longer. Below is my major microbiome-nerd-fest. Skim/read below and join my “I love buggy-bug club!” (You can like this post on Facebook if you’re a fellow microbiota info stalker!).
Watch microbiome researcher and my new “brain crush”, Rob Knight, summarize who we REALLY are (brain crush means-I envy his brain!):
It’s a Buggy World Out There!
It’s a buggy life! I’m going to highlight the importance of keeping our inside critters happy through the lifespan, starting as babies.
A mouse study supported that fetuses are not completely sterile. A prenatal mother-to-child bacteria exchange occurs. This was made evident by researchers who were able to detect strains of critters in the babes of mamma rodents after they had inoculated mom with these same bugs. (2)
Mom’s Pass On Their Diabetic Microbes
This study was aimed to assess the diversity of the meconium microbiome (microbes in baby’s first stool) and determined that their bacterial community was affected by maternal diabetes status. This supports the mice study of the holobiont. (3)
Another study showed that mice transmitted bacteria that were suboptimal due to injury as measured by markers in their stool. This indicated that non-chromosomal heredity characteristics could be taking place through the microbiome and could be measured by fecal IgA. (4)
Entering An Unsterile World
A study reported on how the composition and structure of the pregnancy vaginal microbiome varies across cultures and how these differences in microbiota may influence susceptibility to pregnancy outcomes. (5)
Of Baby’s, Bugs, & Allergies
Researchers from the University of Alberta and University of Manitoba in Canada published their study in the journal Clinical & Experimental Allergy and reported that, “infants with less diverse gut bacteria at 3 months were more likely to show sensitivity to certain foods like egg, milk and peanut by the age of 12 months.”
“Enterobacteriaceae were overrepresented and Bacteroidaceae were underrepresented in the gut microbiota of food-sensitized infants at 3 months and 1 year, whereas lower microbiota richness was evident only at 3 months.” (6)
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) & Gut Bugs
The faecal flora of patients with ASDs was studied and compared with those of two control groups (healthy siblings and unrelated healthy children).
… The faecal flora of ASD patients contained a higher incidence of the Clostridium histolyticum group (Clostridium clusters I and II) of bacteria than that of healthy children. (7)
NAFLD & Children’s Gut
A study with children who were diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) demonstrated that, “the gut microbiome in pediatric NAFLD is distinct from lean healthy children with more alcohol production and pathways allocated to energy metabolism over carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism, which would contribute to development of disease.” (8)
Next week I’ll review some more buggy studies with adults and also provide you with some more detailed information on how to keep your microbes happy! More proof of the fact that nobody’s happy unless their microbiome is healthy!
(1) Baquero F1, Nombela C.The microbiome as a human organ. Clin Microbiol Infect. 2012 Jul;18 Suppl 4:2-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-0691.2012.03916.x.
(2) Jimeneza E, Marina ML, Martina R, Odriozolab JM, Olivaresc M, Xausc J, Fernadeza L, Rodriguez JM. Is meconium from healthy newborns actually sterile? Res Microbiol. 2008 Apr;159(3):187-93. doi: 10.1016/j.resmic.2007.12.007
(3) Hu J, Nomura Y, Bashir A, Fernandez-Hernandez H, Itzkowitz S, et al. (2013) Diversified Microbiota of Meconium Is Affected by Maternal Diabetes Status. PLoS ONE 8(11): e78257. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078257
(4) Clara Moon, Megan T. Baldridge, Meghan A. Wallace, Carey-Ann D. Burnham, Herbert W. Virgin, Thaddeus S. Stappenbeck. Vertically transmitted faecal IgA levels determine extra-chromosomal phenotypic variation. Nature, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/nature14139
(5) MacIntyre DA, Chandiramani M, Lee YS, Kindinger L, Smith A, Angelopoulos N, Hehne B, et al. The vaginal microbiome during pregnancy and the postpartum period in a European population. Scientific Reports. March 11, 2015. doi:10.1038/srep08988
(6) Paddock C. Infants’ gut bacteria linked to food sensitization. MNT. March 5, 2015. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290377.php
(7) Parracho HM, Bingham MO, Gibson GR, McCartney AL. Differences between the gut microflora of children with autistic spectrum disorders and that of healthy children. J Med Microbiol. 2005; 54(10):987-991.
(8) Michail S1, Lin M2, Frey MR2, Fanter R3, Paliy O4, Hilbush B5, Reo NV4. Altered gut microbial energy and metabolism in children with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2015 Feb;91(2):1-9. doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiu002. Epub 2014 Dec 5.
Images courtesy istockphoto.com