They are the silent partners inside your intestines. Bacteria in your gut, or the microbiome, prime the immune system, help digest food, and produce vitamins and energy. And Mayo Clinic researchers are studying how your unique microbiome can determine your optimal health.
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"If you know what kind of bacteria are present in the gut, we can predict what would happen after you eat different food products and how your blood glucose levels may change," says Dr. Purna Kashyap, co-director of the Microbiome Program at Mayo Clinic's Center for Individualized Medicine.
More research is still needed to see how it can improve your health, but the initial results are promising.
"Instead of trying to change the bacteria that are present in your gut, you just adapt your diet to best suit that group of bacteria," says Dr. Kashyap.
And along with genetics and environment, it could provide a new tool in the toolbox for providers when it comes to improving your health through diet.
"It's a tool which was missing for the longest time or it was ignored for the longest time," says Dr. Kashyap. "And now we are realizing that we really should not be leaving it aside. It should be considered when we are trying to optimize patients' management."