For physiological systems we usually look at specialized organs, such as the liver, skin or lungs. Research over the past few decades has made it clear that our microbiome, especially the one in our gut, should in fact be viewed as an additional “organ” with its own functions. Just as essential to normal bodily functions as our other organs.
Below is an overview of the relationships between the microbiome and some common chronic conditions.
Based on location, bowel diseases are the most obvious examples where a relationship with a disrupted microbiome can be expected. Such a relationship has therefore been extensively researched and described, for example in Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Irritable Bowel syndrome (IBS) and Chronic diarrhea.
Chronic fatigue and pain
Chronic systemic inflammation plays an important role in multi-system diseases. Due to the involvement of the immune system and its interweaving with the microbiome, it is not surprising here too that relationships with a disrupted microbiome are found. Examples are fibromyalgia, ME and CFS.
Neurological and psychological disorders are increasingly and more clearly associated with inflammation and metabolism. The existence of the gut-brain axis is no longer questioned.
MS, Parkinson, Alzheimer
Neurologische aandoeningen worden steeds vaker in verband gebracht met een gewijzigd microbioom. De aanwijzingen stapelen zich op dat het microbioom een directe modulatie van het centraalÂ zenuwstelsel kan bewerkstelligen – en vice versa.
Obesity, Diabetes, Metabolic syndrome
Although every part of our body is inhabited by microorganisms, by far the greatest concentration is in our intestines. Its primary function is to process food into absorbable ingredients. It should therefore come as no surprise that in diseases that are primarily related to a disruption of the metabolism, a relationship with (disruptions of) the microbiome is found. However, this relationship is not unambiguous.
Because most cardiovascular diseases have a chronic character, there is a growing recognition that this is very closely related to our lifestyle and our metabolism. It is therefore often referred to as cardiometabolic diseases. We have explored the context for you.
It is almost by definition unthinkable to grow old healthily without a healthy microbiome. How far does scientific knowledge about the relationships extend?
Immunity and viral infections
The human immune system cannot function without using the microbiome. The literature on reciprocal relationships is extensive.