The human gut microbiome is the bacterial ecosystem of our intestines. It is known to affect our body’s ability to extract energy from a diet and to influence brain functions. Currently there is a lack of understanding generally about the importance of the gut microbiome’s role in health and well-being. Finding out more about the gut microbiome could lead to the development of dietary interventions, allowing more control of its functions, therefore, preventing diet-related and behavioural disorders.
The MyNewGut Project, (Microbiome's influence on energy balance and brain development/function put into action to tackle diet-related diseases and behaviour) which receives funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme, will research how the human gut microbiota and its genome (microbiome) influence obesity, behavioural- and lifestyle-related disorders and vice versa. It also aims to identify specific dietary strategies to improve the long-term health of the population.
The general objectives of the project are to:
- Expand knowledge of the contribution of the human microbiome to nutrient metabolism and energy balance.
- Identify microbiome-related features that contribute to or predict obesity and associated disorders.
- Understand how the gut microbiome, under the influence of environmental factors, plays a role in the brain, metabolic and immune system development in early life and long-term health consequences.
- Provide proof-of-concepts of the disease risk reduction potential of dietary interventions with new food products and ingredients that target the gut microbiome, in humans.
What is the gut microbiome’s role in human health?
'Gut microbiota' is the name given to the microbe population living in our intestines.
A large body of evidence supports the notion that the gut microbiota and its genome (microbiome) play a role in human development and physiology. Microbiome-related functions depend on lifestyle (for example diet, eating habits, method of how a baby is delivered at birth, etc.) and the host’s features, which jointly influence the communication and function of the gut, brain and peripheral tissues, such as the liver, pancreas and adipose tissue. All of this helps to determine our health status and risk of developing diet- and brain-related disorders. Therefore, developing microbiome-based dietary recommendations and interventions could provide cost-effective methods to reduce the socioeconomic burden of diet- and brain-related diseases in Europe, particularly, obesity and chronic-metabolic and behavioural disorders.