The Gut Microbiota

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The gut microbiota is extremely diverse – consisting of over 1,000 identified unique species of bacteria. It is indeed difficult to wrap one’s head around it – despite bacteria being microscopically small, and having an undetectable mass, the bacteria of the gut in a human can weigh over 2 pounds! This incredibly diverse mass of bacteria is also mostly unique on an individual basis – over 70% of the bacteria per gut are unique to each person [1]. Thus, the gut microbiota of each individual can effectively function as a unique source of identity. The sheer diversity of the microbiota means that bodily disorders associated with the gut region (encompassing the stomach and intestines) are difficult to diagnose, and even harder to find the source of the disorder. Intestinal Bowel Disease (IBD) is a large category of bodily disorders associated with the gut. IBD most commonly manifests itself in two forms – Crohn’s Disease, and Ulcerative Colitis [1]. Crohn’s disease is arguably a more severe form of the disease, as the diseased tissue tends to go deeper into the intestines. Ulcerative Colitis, while still very detrimental and pain causing, causes inflammation of tissue at more of the surface level. The diseases affects a significant portion of the population, with a high rate of new cases discovered - between 20,000 and 100,000 people are diagnosed with types of IBD annually in North America [1]. The role of the microbiota in inducing intestinal diseases has been suspected.
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