by Marina Becker

Exciting insights from the last 12 months of microbiome research

So far, science has only scratched the surface of the vast microcosm that is our human microbiome. Research around this topic is still in its infancy, but it has rapidly grown over the last years. Until 2008 PubMed (database for biomedical and life sciences articles) showed about 2,700 results for “microbiome.” Between 2008 and 2018 this number increased to nearly 50,000, and to date, we find over 144,000 related results.

In the last 12 months alone, over 37,000 publications mention the microbiome. In honor of this year’s World Microbiome Day, we are going to take a look at some exciting findings about the role of the microbiome in different areas:

Obesity and Diabetes Mellitus
Our gut microbiome affects our metabolism. Through gut-derived metabolites, it can contribute to metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes mellitus. These metabolites can alter how the body responds to food. A recent review concludes that microbiome-based therapies can assist in obesity treatments as well as personalized medicine in the future. [1]

Psychiatric Disorders
There is a bidirectional influence between the gut and the brain, called the gut-brain axis. A recent study showed how a dysbiotic microbiome may cause psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety or OCD. Psychotropic medications can disrupt the gut microbiome, and that the gut microbiome plays an important role in regulating brain function. [2]

A recent review article describes how microbiome analysis is increasingly being used in criminal cases and forensic investigations. It enables linking evidence to individuals (e.g. through skin microbiomes), detection of influences like alcohol or drugs, and establishing geographic origins from soil samples as well as time since or cause of death. [3]

Over the years, the human gut microbiome has immensely changed because of industrialization. There have been attempts for rewilding the gut microbiome by transplanting fecal microbiota from donors of nonindustrial societies. Due to medical, ethical, and evolutionary concerns, some scientists propose to rejuvenate the gut by using a person’s own fecal microbiota from when they were young and healthy, and preserving it for future use. [4]

First Man-Made Microbiome and Microbiome Breeding
A recent breakthrough in microbiome research is the successful creation of the first ever man-made human microbiome. [5] You can learn more about this here.
Microbiome breeding is a new artificial selection technique, used to benefit hosts like plants and animals by changing the genetic composition of microbiomes and transferring them with stability and fidelity. [6]

Bottom line, research shows again and again, how crucial the microbiome is for all areas of wellbeing. And yet, there is still so much more to uncover... Happy World Microbiome Day!

Marina Becker
Marina Becker
Holistic Health and Life Coach / Editor

Marina Becker studied communications and psychology in Munich. As a Certified Transformational Nutrition Coach she supports people who struggle with their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing by providing a holistic and personalized approach to healing and transformation.

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