What is the human gut microbiome? The human gut microbiome refers to the bacteria that live the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, primarily in the large intestine. The average human has around 100 trillion microbes in their GI tract [1]. This number is 10 times higher than the amount of human cells in the body. Moreover, there are 150 times more genes in the human gut microbiome than in the entire human genome [1]. Despite this, until recently little research was done on the microbiome and relatively little is known at this time.

 

What does the microbiome do?

The bacteria in the microbiome metabolize food that is not digested and absorbed in the stomach and small intestine producing products such as: short-chain fatty acids (acetate, propionate, and butyrate), ethanol, hydrogen gas, lactate and others [2]. The short-chain fatty acids produced through microbial metabolism of fiber have a number of health benefits including reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, GI disorders, and certain types of cancer [3]. Moreover, these microbes out-compete pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria in the large intestine to prevent infection [4].

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