Your gut is colonized by about 10 times more microorganisms than you have cells in your body. Many of these microorganisms are our allies in the digestion of our food and the production of essential vitamins. However, some of these microorganisms can also be our foes by causing diseases. Poo and its therapeutic opportunities were discussed last Wednesday during the Science Cafe Wageningen session about our microbiome. Guest speakers microbiologist Willem de Vos and gastroenterologist Cyriel Ponsioen talked about our bacterial inhabitants and their either useful or harmful contribution to our health.
Several phenomena such as obesity and chronic infections of the intestines, have been associated with a typical gut microbiome. Even disorders such as autism and baby colic, the uncontrollable crying in a healthy baby, have been (partly) related to the gut microbiome. Following birth, our gut transforms due to the bacteria we receive from our mothers and it blossoms into a crowded functioning microbiome. By studying mechanisms of- and associations between microbiome and disorders, researchers can detect early biomarkers. The discoveries of the ecological background of specific bacteria was discussed by Willem de Vos, professor of Microbiology at Wageningen University and Academy Professor at Helsinki University, Finland. Although the microbiome is still a black box, as he called it, these discoveries do open up opportunities for developing medical diagnostic tools based on the gut microbiome. This is the field of research Cyriel Ponsioen is specialized in, being a gastroenterologist at the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam. For centuries, people eat poop to reduce or prevent inflammation. Nowadays, researchers rediscover poop transplantation to improve the dysbalance of bacteria. So, remember: “You never walk alone” according to Willem de Vos.
Live music was provided by Out In The Open