Feature Article

The gut microbiome in health and illness

Feature Article

The gut microbiome in health and illness

ROSE Q. TRIEU, DAVID VAN DER POORTEN

Figures

© picture-waterfall/ stock.adobe.com
© picture-waterfall/ stock.adobe.com

Abstract

The gut microbiome plays a vital role in maintaining normal metabolism, nutrition and health, and when perturbed is associated with disease. Evidence suggests that eating a varied diet that includes a diverse intake of plant foods may enhance the gut microbiome. In patients with recurrent Clostridioides difficile infection or ulcerative colitis, faecal microbiota transplant can help re-establish a healthy gut microbiome and induce remission.

Key Points

  • The gut microbiome is the most extensive in the human body and is important for the synthesis, extraction and absorption of numerous metabolites and nutrients.
  • The microbiome is influenced by prenatal and environmental factors including maternal prenatal health and postnatal pet exposure, mode of feeding and location of upbringing.
  • A diet high and diverse in plant foods may enhance the gut microbiome.
  • There is no definitive evidence that fermented foods, such as kimchi, kefir and kombucha, or probiotics are beneficial to gut microbiota.
  • Faecal microbiota transplants can help re-establish a healthy gut microbiome and can be used as therapy for Clostridioides difficile infection and ulcerative colitis.