Rob Knight is a pioneer in studying human microbes, the community of tiny single-cell organisms living inside our bodies that have a huge — and largely unexplored — role in our health. “The three pounds of microbes that you carry around with you might be more important than every single gene you carry around in your genome,” he says.
We've all heard about the microbiome, but what is it? Why should we care? And, most importantly, what should we do about it?
The most influential “organ” in the human body might be made up of foreign cells—six pounds worth of microorganisms. Katherine Pollard discusses how her lab at the Gladstone Institutes uses big data and high-performance computing to study the human microbiome and learn how it influences health and disease.
The human microbiome plays a role in processes as diverse as metabolism, immune function, and mental health. Yet despite the importance of this system, scientists are just beginning to uncover which microorganisms reside in and on our bodies and determine what functions they perform. The development of innovative technology and analytical methods has enabled researchers like Dr. Pollard to decode the complex interactions between our human cells and microbial brethren, and infer meaning from the staggering amounts of data 10 trillion organisms create.
Human Body Microbes Make Antibiotics, Study Finds. Each of us has a microbiome which is a component of our 'healer within' and is a major beneficiary of Qigong practice. Our microbiome can be considered part of our internal "pharmacy" where we can get safe and natural personalized drugs. New research, funded in part by NCCIH, suggests that some of the bacteria that share our human bodies manufacture antibiotics and that these substances may be capable of fighting infection. The researchers, from the University of California, San Francisco; the University of California, Santa Cruz; Indiana University; Washington University School of Medicine; and Harvard Medical School, published their findings in a recent issue of the journal Cell:
Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid. The richest source of butyrate is butter. But as it turns out, your intestinal cells fully rely on gut bacteria to produce butyrate. In fact, their very survival depends on it. Butyrate is an important source of energy for intestinal cells. Without butyrate—or with only a short supply—intestinal cells die. (1) This may explain why the highest concentration of butyrate in the human body is found in the gut. Butyrate does more than feed intestinal cells. It also controls inflammation.
Metabolomics is the chemical fingerprint of your body. Your genome and genetic profile are simply a blueprint of the raw material or ingredients (proteins) of your body. The blueprint does not give an idea of how the (expressed) genes interact and how the environment affects the genes. Metabolomics is concerned with what is occurring in your body moment to moment (the set of active metabolites) as a result of factors such as nutrition and lifestyle with the ultimate goal of understanding how metabolism is regulated and identifying the metaboloic signatures of disease.
The gut microbiome is the body's main generator of metabolites. One main way that Qigong practice positively affects the microbiome is via stress reduction.
Exploring the Gut Microbiome’s Connection to Human Behavior – Lecture by Dr. John Cryan. A healthy life-style (in Daoist terms, Yang Sheng) includes the mind-body practice of Qigong, western-style exercise, proper nutrition, and healthy living habits. One of the most important notions in living a healthy life-style is understanding the key relationship between the gut microbiome and health. John F. Cryan, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience at University College Cork, in Ireland, gave a lecture, “Towards Psychobiotics: The Microbiome as a Key Regulator of Brain and Behavior,” as part of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health’s (NCCIH) Integrative Medicine Research Lecture Series. Dr. Cryan is an internationally recognized scientist in the exciting area of the interactions between gut microbes and the brain. He works closely with gastroenterologists, microbiologists, ecologists, and behavioral scientists in studying the various interactions and biological effects of the gut microbiome on human behavior. One way that the practice of Qigong directly affects the gut microbiome is through the reduction of stress.
It's a Gut Feeling - how the gut microbiota affects the state of mind. The gut microbiota is a dynamic and diverse ecosystem and forms a symbiotic relationship with the host. This research describes the components of the gut microbiota and mechanisms by which it can influence neural development, complex behaviours and nociception. Furthermore, the authors propose the novel concept of a "state of gut" rather than a state of mind.
Biological Magnetic Resonance Data Bank. A Repository for Data from NMR Spectroscopy on Proteins, Peptides, Nucleic Acids, and other Biomolecules.
Mounting evidence suggests a deep connection between the gut microbiota and central nervous system.1 A hypothesis with important clinical implications generated from this concept is that an imbalance in the gut microbial community can lead to immune dysregulation and, in turn, autoimmune disease, including such neuroinflammatory conditions as multiple sclerosis (MS).