While looking around the internet for something to write about, I came across the blog of Jeff Leach, the founder of the Human Food Project. In his blog, he discusses what will be his year-long journey to “the healthiest gut microbiome in the world”. He discusses how he will be altering his diet in many ways over a year and keeping fecal samples throughout in order to figure out how different aspects of his diet will affect his gut microbiome.
There are two things that reading this blog about his plan for his journey caused me to think about. The first of these is the possibility that a person’s diet may underly a lot of the differences that we see in the microbiome. In class and in some blogs it has been discussed all of the things that can cause differences in the microbiome: culture, ethnicity, location, and education level, just to name a few. However, is it possible that the underlying cause of some of these differences could be the different diets associated with these factors? Each of these factors may cause a person to have a distinct diet, and these dietary differences could contribute to the differences of these groups that are seen in the microbiome. While I am sure that diet is not the only cause of these differences, as two people with identical diets probably would not have identical microbiomes, it may be a greater factor than we thought.
The second thing that this blog made me think about was the idea of “the healthiest gut microbiome”. I know that this is a concept we have talked about some in class, but is there really a healthiest microbiome? It seems to me that if everyone’s microbiome is unique, how can we truly classify one microbiome as the healthiest? This is especially complicated because there are many different kinds of healthy people with different lifestyles that likely have different microbiomes. How do we classify what is healthy and what is not? The fact that some bacteria are harmful in some people and not harmful in others seems to complicate this issue. Perhaps it would be easier to classify what microbes (or combinations of microbes) are only detrimental in the gut, as opposed to finding which balance is best.
The blog post from Jeff Leach can be found here: http://humanfoodproject.com/going-feral-one-year-journey-acquire-healthiest-gut-microbiome-world-heard/