As our understanding of the human body and medicine develops, so does the way in which we approach human health. Be it the conventional Western approach or the traditional Eastern approach, there’s seems to be a growing interest in further understanding the role of microbes in the body, ESPECIALLY…in the intestines.
Growing research has found these intestinal microbe populations to play a VERY important role in not only digestion, but also in regulating fat storage, stimulating intestinal epithelium renewal and influencing the development of the immune system (Berrilli et al., 2012). Furthermore, the microbe populations thriving in this “commensal” relationship within our gut also contributes to the “barrier effect” of the intestinal epithelium, which as discussed in an earlier post, plays the primary role of protecting the host – especially against harmful substances, such as pathogens and parasites (Berrilli et al., 2012).
So, if we are to step back a little and look at the bigger picture here, we can see that the way we look at the human body is evolving; the human body is becoming more often perceived as a “superorganism” where an extensive network of highly coordinated physiological processes occur in a collaborative effort, to ensure that both the host and the microbes get what they need to function optimally (Nicholson et al., 2004)!
As we look towards the future, I truly believe that medicine will eventually (as it already has in many parts of the world) shift more towards improving and sustaining the integrity of this integral symbiosis between humans and the microbes within! Be it medications to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria that contribute to intestinal inflammation or those that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria already present within our own gut, the future implications of this kind of research will dramatically change the way we address human health and in the way we study human physiology . I think for the better.
Wishing you all much love,