In the September 2014 edition of Today’s Dietitian, David Yeager highlighted a possible breakthrough project that could advance current medical treatment and disease prevention. Multiple labs are participating in what is known as the Human Microbiome Project, which is under the National Institutes of Health. The project entails two phases. The first phase, which was completed from 2007-2013, was aimed to identify and describe the microbial community that lives within the human body. The second phase, which is started in 2013 and will continue until 2015, aims to describe the biology between the interaction of the microbes and the human body. The ongoing study is hoping to target how health is maintained through the microbiome and how to treat disease (specifically digestive disease).
Various studies have proved that microbiota plays a key role in health outcomes. For instance, the article mentioned a study involving transfer of microbes from a lean individual to an obese individual. Although the results were short lived, there was a decrease in insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. Krista King, a senior pediatric dietitian at Texas Children’s Hospital and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states, “The microbiome makes up 1% to 2% of the adult body, so it could essentially be considered a separate organ. Previously, we thought it was just there to help us with digestion of foods and the production of certain vitamins, such as vitamin K or vitamin D, but now we’re seeing that it’s playing a much bigger role than that.” Each person’s microbiota is described as a fingerprint, each being unique to each individual. Now more then ever there is talk of personalized health plans as well as diets that are tailored according to each individual’s biology. Microbiota may be the future break through to be able to accurately prescribe individualized diets.
Yeager, D. (2014, September). Mapping the gut microbiome. Today’s Dietitian, 16, 12-13.