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Research Article Open Access

The Microbiome has Multiple Influences on Human Health

Abstract

The microbiome is a large population of microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract that plays an important role in health maintenance and disease avoidance. It develops in human infants immediately after birth and breast feeding is particularly advantageous because human milk contains various oligosaccharides (HMO) which are prebiotics that support establishment of the microbiome. The microbiome also has multiple effects in locations remote from the gastrointestinal tract. The recognition of the microbiome-gut-brain axis indicates that the microbiome plays a key role in brain functioning. It also influences immune regulation, the endocrine system, and the central nervous system. It is a target for therapeutic intervention for several health problems; gastrointestinal disorders, developmental indices such as cognition, anxiety, mood, and sociability and cancer therapy. Dietary components such as protein, fats, prebiotics, and polyphenols induce shifts in the microbiome. The close relationship between diet, the microbiome, and health suggests that dietary modulation may guide the formation of health promoting microbiomes that could then be maintained throughout the lifespan. Nutrition now needs to be directed towards efficient management of the microbiome since it is well established that an optimal functioning of the microbiome will make a major improvement in health maintenance and disease avoidance.

Clifford Adams and Bettina Gutiérrez

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