We’ve heard that fecal implants can cure C. diff but that’s just the beginning of what’s possible for the microbiome (Brant, 2012).
“The advent of rapid nucleic acid sequencing has revealed an astonishing fact: the microbiome contains more than 100 times as many genes as there are human genes. More remarkably, these microbial genes generate proteins, including hormones, neurotransmitters, and molecules of inflammation, that can enter the circulation and affect human physiology. Thus, the microbiome is not only a second genome: it is also like an additional endocrine organ.” (Komaroff, 2018)
Our microbiome develops at birth when the infant is exposed to the environment for the first time. It makes a difference whether or not the infant passes through the birth canal or is born by C-section.
“Starting immediately after birth, microbes from the environment colonize the gut in a rapid fashion over 3 years, shaping the development and education of the immune system. It then reaches a more stable configuration, where changes in the composition (i.e., who’s there) changes slowly, though changes in abundance (i.e., the relative composition) changes more quickly (Yatsunenko et al., 2012); Faith and colleagues (2013) found that 60% of the strains present in an individual’s gut are detected over a 5-year period (Faith et al., 2013).”
People with inflammatory bowel disease have less diversity in their gut microbiota with fewer short-chain fatty acids (Ott, 2004) “A wealth of evidence supports the notion that changes in the activity of the gut microbiota can push a susceptible host toward disease.”
The microbiome can also increase the risk of atherosclerosis. In mice, high salt intake reduces Lactobacillus murinus, which helps protect against high blood pressure.
What we don’t know is exactly how to improve our gut microbiome. Lots of research being done so there will be more information in the future.