Gut Health: Why It's Important

Dr. Jennifer McQuade, a physician-researcher at MD Anderson Cancer Center, recently hosted a fascinating webinar for the Anticancer Lifestyle Program on the importance of gut health. Here is a short recap of the key takeaways from the webinar.  

What is the gut microbiome and why is it important?
  • Everyone’s gut microbiome is different. The microbiome consists of the trillions of organisms that live on us and in us, primarily bacteria, along with viruses and fungi. In fact, humans have 10-100X more microbial DNA than our own DNA! The largest number of these microbes are in our GI tract. 
  • We have a symbiotic relationship with the microbes in our gut. They help us digest and break down food and medications; defend us from pathogenic bacteria; break down fiber (which in turn feeds the good bacteria); and perform other essential functions.
  • An unhealthy microbiome has been associated with many diseases and conditions, including obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, eczema, allergies, asthma, and even depression (gut-brain interaction).
  • There is a symbiotic relationship between our microbiome and our immune system. Exposure to microbes actually helps “train” our immune system to fight pathogenic bacteria.


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