We discussed what the microbiome is and some of their roles in supporting our health. However, this field is still relative young and much has yet to be revealed about the identity and function of our resident bacterial ecosystem.
The microbiome has received public attention due to their important role in supporting our gut health. Consequently, much interest has been given to food products that have high bacterial cultures (e.g. yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, etc) and dietary supplements that provide large quantities of ‘good’ bacteria (i.e. probiotics). However, how dietary intake of bacteria provide beneficial effects on our gut is largely unclear. The following are some of the topics discussed in class that begs further discussion:
1. What defines ‘good’ bacteria and, if possible, name the specific strains?
2. What is the scientific evidence that such bacteria are good?
3. How would orally administered bacteria survive the many antibacterial systems in our body and safely reach the colon? How can you tell with certainty that those bacteria not only reached the colon, but were able to colonize?
4. Most of the nutrients have already been absorbed by the highly efficient small intestine. So, how do these probiotics support our digestive system and/or metabolism?
5. What are other interventions that can target our gut microbiome and what scientific evidence supports their beneficial effects?
6. How would targeting our gut microbiome promote healthy aging and longevity?