Genes or lifestyle: what influences our microbiome?
The age-old dichotomy of nature and nurture and got to the microbiome — personal set of beneficial bacteria contained in our body.
Studies, one after the other, show that the microbiome affects all aspects of our lives, and its composition, which varies in different people, it could be a key factor in many issues ranging from weight gain to mood. Some scientists believe that the composition of the microbiome is determined by our genes, but large-scale study conducted at the Weizmann Institute, puts this idea into question.
The working hypothesis assumed that genetics is crucial to identify differences in the microbiome of people.
According to her it is the genes that determine a habitat for microorganisms and also their varieties, which will be “allowed” to live and grow.
However, what was the surprise of the researchers when they found that genetics only determines a small part of the work of the microbiome — approximately 2% of the individual differences in the human population.
The study was conducted based on data from approximately 1000 Israelis who participated in a long-term project is an individual power. Israel’s population is very diverse, which provides an ideal environment for studying genetic differences. In addition to the genetic data, the researchers collected data on dietary habits, lifestyle and treatment of study participants. Analysis of these data showed that diet and lifestyle are critical for the formation of the microbiome.
So, if the microbiome is not determined by genes, how microorganisms interact with our genes and affect our health? The researchers studied levels of cholesterol, weight, level of blood glucose and other health parameters. The results were surprising: most of these factors are more or equally affected by the genome of the bacteria, not the person. Edition DailyScience quotes the words of Professor Eran Segal, who participated in the project: “We cannot change our genes but we can change the composition of bacteria in our body. Our discoveries are encouraging: the microbiome can be a very powerful tool to improve health”.