American Gastroenterological Association Center for Guy Microbiome Research and Education Chair Gail Hecht, MD, wrote about gut microbiome for an AGA Microbiome Update.
Here's what you should know.
1. Dr. Hecht says although the existence of gut bacteria was largely known, researchers have only recently begun to understand their significance.
2. A bacterial enzyme controls the entire production of carbon dioxide and ammonia from urea. The human genome doesn't include the gene for urease.
3. Researchers are working to better understand the relationship between diet and microbe composition in the human gut.
4. Dr. Hecht sites the use of fecal microbiota transplantation to treat recurrent Clostridium difficile infection as an example of how gut microbiota can restore health.
5. Gut bacteria, or the lack thereof, associates with several chronic diseases in the human body. Dr. Hecht said, "It is unclear, however, if such changes are the cause or effect of such disease states. However, such alterations have systemic effects on the host through the production of metabolites that access distant organs and influence their functionality."
With that gained knowledge, Dr. Hecht said gastroenterologists have the challenge "of learning how to harness the power of the microbiota to prevent disease and restore health."