What is a ‘healthy’ microbiome?

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In 2008, a team of doctors and scientists ventured deep within Venezuelan jungle and collected stool samples from twelve people who, until then, had never met anyone outside their own cultural group.

The villagers were Yanomami—hunter-gatherers who live in the Amazon rainforest on the border between Brazil and Venezuela.

The doctors and scientists were after their microbiomes—the hundreds of trillions of bacteria and other microbes that colonize our bodies and outnumber our own cells by a factor of ten.

Our own microbiomes are under assault from many foibles of modern life. Fatty, calorific diets dramatically change the communities of microbes in our guts; Antibiotics kill them as readily as they do harmful bugs.

That is why the Yanomami are so important. They offer a glimpse at microbiomes that lie beyond the influence of mainstream human life.

Read the full, original article: Searching for a ‘Healthy’ Microbiome

Additional Resources:

Diet changes alter the human gut microbiome,” Nature

Genetics of the human gut microbiome might be the next big thing,” Slate

Microbiome: How the bacterial genes in our gut impact us,” New York Times

Human microbiome project provides census of thousands of microbes that live in and on us,” Boston Globe

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