(MICROBIOTA): The human microbiota
In the early 1900s, Elie Metchnikoff, a Russian Nobel prize winner, believed that high numbers of lactobacilli in the gastrointestinal tract were responsible for having a long and healthy life. To prove this, he reportedly experimented on himself. He experienced improved health and wellbeing with regular ingestion of sour milk. He supposedly said “When people have learnt how to cultivate a suitable flora in the intestines of children as soon as they are weaned from the breast, the normal life may extend to twice my 70 years”.(1)
Researchers have found that the human gut contains a huge number of microorganisms, altogether known as the microbiota. The total number of these microorganisms is in trillions and is dominated by anaerobic bacteria, and there is around 1000 different species. This microbiota is considered to be the metabolic organ in the human body and it performs functions that our bodies are not evolved enough to perform on their own, like the ability to process indigestible components of our diet e.g. plant polysaccharides.(2)
- Karpa KD. Bacteria for Breakfast-Probiotics for Good Health [Internet]. 2003. Available here click me When people have learnt how to cultivate a suitable flora in the intestines of children as soon as they are weaned from the breast the normal life may extend to twice my 70 year.
- Ding H, Wang T, Hooper L V, Koh GY, Nagy A, Semenkovich CF, et al. The gut microbiota as an environmental factor that regulates fat storage. PNAS. 2004.