Within the last decade, research regarding the human gut microbiome has exploded. While the gastrointestinal tract was once regarded simply as a digestive organ, new technologies have led the science world to wonder about the impact that the gut microbiota may have on human health and disease. The gut microbiome is now becoming known for its role in metabolism, immune defense, and behavior. From in utero variations to those that rapidly occur post partum, our gut microbiome changes with age, environment, stress, diet, and health status as well as medication exposure. This article reviews what is currently known regarding various influences on the gut microbiome and is meant to encourage the reader to further explore the unknown.
Keywords: antibiotics; chronic disease; diet; health; immunity; life cycle stages; microbiota.
© 2015 American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.