Found this awesome figure in Science magazine from a few months ago! The gut microbiota is super important in human health—and develops throughout a lifetime. PS. Those are my highlights & sorry it’s kinda small!
Keys from the figure:
- Gut bacteria (or microbiota—same thing) is essential for maintain human health, and physiological function (i.e. immune, digestive) from birth and through the life cycle.
- During pregnancy, maternal gut bacteria influences that of the baby and much of the gut bacteria is passed on.
- After birth, many factors influence the gut environment—like method of delivery, nutrition (breast or bottle-feeding), and even antibiotic use. Antibiotics actually destroy a lot of the gut bacteria increasing the risk of infection, sickness or disease in kids.
- There is a shift in the type of gut bacteria as you age, from high levels of the bacterial strain Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes. Individuals with metabolic disease have higher levels of Firmicutes than Bacteroidetes.
- Gut bacteria help in production of bile salts (aid in digestion fats), choline and SCFA (short-chain fatty acids).
- SCFAs like Butyrate actually helps regulate fat in adipose tissue (through the hormone leptin) and can “turn-on” the immune system to decrease inflammation in cells. Inflammation is associated with heart disease, atherosclerosis, obesity and autoimmune disorders.
Nicholson et al., “Host-Gut Microbiota Metabolic Interactions”. Science 336,1262 (2012).