We are 90 percent microbes: Human Microbiome Project aims to map gut flora

Tuesday, August 07, 2012 by: Eric Hunter
Tags: Human Microbiome Project, gut flora, bacteria

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(NaturalNews) Certain biologists and a big part of the natural treatment community have long been preaching about the vital importance of the tiny microorganisms in and on our body. In the last couple of years, the research on the subject has sky-rocketed, and a whole new approach to disease prevention and treatment is slowly appearing. We know that 90 percent of the cells in the body are microbial and only the remaining 10 percent are human. A new project called the "American Gut" is going to look at the gut flora of humans with various diseases, diets and lifestyles to increase our knowledge about the Human Microbiome further.

The Human Microbiome Project

The Human Microbiome Project was a five-year project that just finished. The ultimate goal of the project was to look at the various microorganisms hosted by healthy individuals and to analyze their role in health and disease.

They discovered that the human ecosystem is occupied by more than 10,000 different microbial species. There are huge variations between individuals, and people with a western lifestyle have a different microbiome than people living in non-westernized settings. Although we are essentially identical in terms of our human genome, we are very different in terms of gut microbes.

It's already established that our gut flora is essential in maintaining a strong immune system and protect us against disease. By looking at the microbial community, it's also possible to determine with 90 percent accuracy if the host is obese or lean, and changing the flora has shown promising results as part of a weight loss plan.

The downside of The Human Microbiome Project was that it only looked at the flora of healthy individuals. Therefore, it gave us little information about the microbiome's role in health and disease.

American Gut

Now that the Human Microbiome Project is finished, the Human Food Project is picking up the torch and is launching a project called American Gut. This project is going to look at the gut flora of humans with different diets, diseases and activity patterns. The project starts in September, and all Americans can participate and get the chance to see their microbiome compared to hunter-gatherers and people with other diets, health issues and demographic backgrounds.

The new information will provide a whole new approach to good health, disease prevention and treatment. IBS, IBD, autism, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and many other diseases have already been linked to our microbiome. American Gut will increase our knowledge about the specific differences between healthy individuals and people with various health problems.

The conventional medical community

Conventional medicine has been obsessed trying to develop drugs to eradicate specific microorganisms believed to cause disease. This has shown to be a poor strategy in the majority of cases and only contribute to a dysfunctional flora and poor immune system.

The new information that is gathered from the Human Microbiome Project and Human Food Project will make it very hard for the general medical community to not acknowledge the importance of gut flora in disease and health. This will slowly make the information available to the general public.

Maintaining healthy gut flora

People taking responsibility for their own health and keeping up with the latest natural health news already have the knowledge they need to improve and maintain a healthy gut flora.
"Ancestral" foods such as meat, fish, fowl, eggs, vegetables, berries, fruits, nuts, etc. are superior when trying to maintain a healthy microbiome and strong immune system. Complementing this with sources of beneficial bacteria and prebiotics is also important.

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