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August 15, 2017

The digestive tract of humans house millions of microbes, some beneficial and some not. The composition and amount of microbes in the tract have been studied extensively in recent times. The microbes in the gut are believed to play a critical role in many aspects of health.  Researchers have compared the microbe composition in healthy individuals and in disease conditions to better understand their role.

Gut microbes and health

Healthy individuals have more than thousand types of bacteria living in the gut. The kind and amount of microbes vary greatly between individuals.

The gut bacteria help in

  • Digestion and absorption: Gut microbes help the intestine in digesting and absorbing many nutrients that are otherwise impossible to digest.
  • Microbes help release short chain fatty acids (SCFA) from fibers that are found in vegetables and other plant sources in the diet. The SCFA have a major role in the prevention of colon and stomach cancers.
  • The gut organisms also help boost immune functions
  • Beneficial gut bacteria also help discourage the growth of disease causing bacteria such as clostridium difficile.

Recent research has shown a link between gut microbe composition and a condition called chronic fatigue syndrome.

Link between chronic fatigue syndrome and gut microbes

Also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), chronic fatigue syndrome is a long term condition. The main symptom is tiredness, but stomach upsets, insomnia, headaches, muscle aches are other signs. Irritable bowel syndrome is another common complaint in CFS that cause alternating loose stools and constipation. Usually treated with counseling, an exercise therapy and pain killers, the condition is believed to have many causes.

Some causes linked to CFS were viral or bacterial infections, lowered immunity or genetic susceptibility.

A recent research by Giloteaux et al., published in Microbiome attempted to throw more light on the link between CFS and gut microbes.  Researchers compared the gut microbe composition of people diagnosed with CFS with that of healthy individuals. Fecal samples were tested to find the type and amount of microbes while blood tests were done to find out inflammatory markers.

The results showed that compared to healthy individuals, CFS sufferers had reduced number and varieties of microbes in the gut. It was also found that some microbes that are believed to increase inflammation were more in number in CFS patients. Consequently, the number of microbes associated with anti-inflammatory properties was less in people with CFS.

In particular, the researchers found a higher number of seven distinct species of microbes that were common in all CFS patients.

Disclaimer: The health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. VitaminsOnly strongly recommends to consult health care professionals for any questions concerning your health.

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