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June 23, 2022 3 min read

The discovery of the intestinal microbiota has literally revolutionized the field of therapeutics for a wide range of pathologies, not only gastrointestinal but also others related to different organs and systems. However, although we are gradually discovering more and more about the microbiome, there is still much to know.
So, in this post, we bring you 10 facts you probably didn't know about the gut microbiota:

1. It could be considered a "separate organ".

Due to its complexity and the large number of physiological processes in which it is involved, the intestinal microbiota has come to be considered yet another organ in the human body. If we look at it from a genetic point of view, it could also be considered a "second human genome" due to the enormous number of microorganisms in it.

2. Research projects exclusively dedicated to the microbiome.

The Human Microbiome Project and the American Gut Project are the two largest lines of study in the United States aimed at characterizing the composition and diversity of the human microbiome.

3. We have microbiota since before we are born.

While it was previously thought that the gastrointestinal environment of babies during their intrauterine stay was sterile, it is now known that the intestinal microbiota begins to form just during this period. It is also known to be influenced by the type of birth (vaginal or cesarean delivery), as well as the type of feeding in the first months of life.

4. Antibiotics affect it.

Although antibiotics are administered to protect us from certain infectious diseases, in the case of the intestinal microbiota, they are capable of severely affecting it. Studies indicate that, if administered at an early age, the bacterial composition could be altered in such a way as to predispose to the development of obesity, metabolic disorders, and autoimmune diseases.

5. A microbial fingerprint.

The fingerprint is not the only way to differentiate one human from another. It has been proven that the bacterial composition of the intestinal microbiota is different in each human being, functioning as a sort of self-identity.

6. Gut microbiota transplantation?

Fecal transplantation is a treatment technique currently used to promote a greater richness and beneficial diversity in a patient by taking some of the gut microbiota of a healthy individual. In this way, beneficial bacteria would be passed from one person to another via enema, nasogastric tube, or colonoscopy.

7. Role of the microbiota in mental health.

There is a large body of scientific evidence indicating connections between the brain and mental health and the gut microbiota, referred to as the brain-gut axis. From this bidirectional communication, various mechanisms of action are able to regulate or affect the psychological health of individuals. Currently, the control of the microbiome is considered a therapeutic goal in psychology.

8. Is the intestinal microbiota the only microbiota in our body?

No, we have microorganisms almost everywhere in our body, including skin, mouth, urinary tract, respiratory tract, and vagina. However, the most complex of all is the gut microbiota.

9. The microbiome can influence and be influenced by almost anything.

Not only can these microorganisms have an impact on our health, but almost all environmental factors, including diet, physical activity, sleep, stress, medications, age, location, etc., can affect our health in one way or another.

10. Do we know everything about gut microbiota?

As mentioned before, although we have a lot of information about this subject, we still have a great deal to discover, a fact that suits us as humans, especially if we consider the great potential it has in the therapeutics of various pathologies.

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