For every cell in human body there is a microbe present as well. These microbes, specifically those that reside in the gut, called gut flora, amount to almost 1 trillion in number. Referred to as the ‘forgotten organ’, the gut flora plays a vital role in our health and survival.
In the past few decades, with the onslaught of antibiotics, medication and the importance on staying clean, scientists believe that we might be disrupting the gut flora and in turn are getting sick. Tim Spector, a researcher in Kings College London, revealed that the gut microbiome is linked to obesity, explaining that particular bacteria in the gut is the reason why some people readily gain weight while others do not. He also suggested that a diversified selection in diet is better for us since different food types offer nourishment to the microbiome, which in turn produces products that are vital for human cells.
However, these gut flora doesn’t simply affect our body weight but also is linked to brain health. According to Professor John Crayn of University College Cork: “We know that the more diverse your microbiome, the less likely you are to be frail or have cognitive impairment. And a diverse diet is what drives a diverse microbiome.”
When the microbes of people suffering from depression were fed to healthy rats, they started showing similar symptoms including anxiety. On the flipside, gut microbes of healthy people fed to healthy rats produced no such depressive symptoms.
Such studies highlight that the forgotten organ should not be disregarded as it holds potential in treating and understanding different diseases that affect us every day.