• By Ian Roth

Mayo Clinic Minute: What is the ‘microbiome,’ and how does it affect your weight?

September 11, 2018

Normally, you think of bacteria as something bad that you should avoid. But, turns out, most of the bacteria inside your gut play an important role in keeping you healthy.

That group of gut bacteria is called your "microbiome." Dr. Purna Kashyap, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist who researchers the microbiome, says everyone's is unique to them based on factors like where they live, what they eat and how they live their life.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

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"They're sort of our silent partners inside our intestines," Dr. Kashyap says. "They will help produce vitamins. They help prime our immune system. They will help digest food, which we cannot digest. So they do a lot of important things for us."

The microbiome can affect which diseases or infections you might get. It can also affect how well you gain or lose weight because your microbiome helps determine how well your body breaks down and absorbs calories from foods.

And since everyone's microbiome is unique, that means every person responds to certain diets differently. Some people might lose weight on a specific diet, while others don't.

So if you're eating healthy and still having trouble losing weight, blame it on your microbiome.

But you can look forward to a future where you can pick an ideal diet based on your microbiome.

"So if we can design diets which can be in sync with your microbiome and determine what kind of responses you have, then each of us will have a more healthy microbiome and also a more healthy life," Dr. Kashyap says.

Personalized Nutrition is a topic that will be highlighted at the Individualized Medicine Conference that will be held in Rochester, Minnesota on Sept. 12 and 13. Dr. Purna Kashyap will be leading a session on personalized diets and the impact on gut microbiome and risk for disease.

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