Part 1: The Human Gut Microbiome in Health and Disease

Integr Med (Encinitas). 2014 Dec;13(6):17-22.


The bacterial cells harbored within the human gastrointestinal tract (GIT) outnumber the host's cells by a factor of 10 and the genes encoded by the bacteria resident within the GIT outnumber their host's genes by more than 100 times. These human digestive-tract associated microbes are referred to as the gut microbiome. The human gut microbiome and its role in both health and disease has been the subject of extensive research, establishing its involvement in human metabolism, nutrition, physiology, and immune function. Imbalance of the normal gut microbiota have been linked with gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and wider systemic manifestations of disease such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and atopy. In the first part of this review, we evaluate our evolving knowledge of the development, complexity, and functionality of the healthy gut microbiota, and the ways in which the microbial community is perturbed in dysbiotic disease states; the second part of this review covers the role of interventions that have been shown to modulate and stabilize the gut microbiota and also to restore it to its healthy composition from the dysbiotic states seen in IBS, IBD, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and atopy.

Publication types

  • Review