Top Biome News Stories of the Year, Part 1

It’s the last week of the year, so it’s time for the inevitable yearly round-up posts!  There’s a good article on Gut Microbiota for Health summarizing some of the major microbiota scientific breakthroughs this year.[i]  Of course, you read it first here on The Biome Buzz!  I did a good job of covering the stories they regarded as “top news items,” if I don’t say so myself! The author points out that COVID has had major effects on the scientific community as a whole:  he suggests that it has made science “nimbler,” which I can believe.  Researchers world-wide needed to rapidly pirouette, moving into new fields and new ways of thinking.  Perhaps some of you may remember that when the virus first made an appearance, no one realized that gastrointestinal symptoms were a common symptom.  In that first month or two, that observation led to rapid deployment of scientists and physicians, looking for the meaning behind those symptoms.  I’ve covered that news for you on this blog.  For example, here’s a post on COVID, immunity and the microbiome and here’s an summary of COVID/microbiome research from this past September.

According to the author of today’s article, here are some other major breakthroughs of the year:

  1. As noted above, the rapid recognition that the GI tract is a target for treating COVID.  As I read the article, I thought about  how rapidly that Italian clinical study using probiotics was thrown together.  It was done by the end of March/ early April, and published in August.  Read about the details here.
  2. More work was done this year on the effects of diet on the microbiota and health. There is an increasing body of evidence that shows that peppermint oil, certain probiotics, psyllium supplementation and a low-FODMAPS diet can help with irritable bowel syndrome. An inflammatory diet has been further linked to the risk for developing Crohn’s disease (see here for more information ), hypertension (see here for more on this topic from this year), and diabetes.  (There are a bunch of articles on The Biome Buzz about diabetes research this year, like here for example.
  3. More evidence has accumulated this year implicating the herbicide, glyphosate, in human disease. I have covered that on the blog too.  Here is a post about recent research on glyphosate and autism, and here is one  from November on new research associating it with alterations to the gut bacteria.
  4. Here’s a really interesting one: “The microbiomes of fermented foods are extremely diverse and their potential health-promoting attributes are superior when compared to non-fermented equivalents.”  2021:  make time for the kimchi and yogurt!
  5. On that note, the mechanism of action of fermented foods has been clarified this year: thus far, it appears most likely that they improve health by improving gut barrier function.  I wrote about this topic (i.e. fermented foods and the gut barrier) in September.

Later this week, I’ll touch on a few of my personal favorite biome stories of the year.



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