Writing Exercise #3

Prompt: Brainstorm a list of behaviors that an individual could engage in that could cause changes to their gut microbial community. Pick 3 specificbehaviors from you list. For each, discuss how that behavior could change the microbial community and the potential health impacts (beneficial, detrimental, neutral) that could result for the individual’s health.

  • Various behaviors can cause changes to gut microbial communities. Some of these include: aging, antibiotic use, diet, environmental factors, and taking pre/probiotics
    • Taking prebiotics/probiotics
      • Taking prebiotics and probiotics have gained popularity over time. Prebiotics can promote growth of commensals and have potential to improve GI health. Probiotics have led to promising results as far as restoring the gut microbiota and treatment of intestinal disorders. Prebiotics and probiotics support the body in building and maintaining healthy bacterial colonies which in turn support gut health and can also aid in digestion. They help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria. Taking prebiotics and probiotics have beneficial impacts on health.
    • Antibiotic use
      • Antibiotic use can have potentially damaging effects to gut microbial communities. Although antibiotic use can be beneficial in curing infection, it can also have damaging effects in regards to the gut microbial community. Antibiotic use can lead to dysbiosis as they not only act on the bacteria that cause infection but also the resident microbiota that can be healthy in our systems. Although some resident microbiota can recover after antibiotic use, many cannot.
      • Antibiotic resistance also plays a role in the effect on gut microbial communities, as many of the harmful bacteria that cause infection find ways to evade antibiotic effects and in turn become stronger and more pathogenic. 
      • Overall, antibiotic use has detrimental impacts on health. Taking less antibiotics can help in limiting the detrimental health impacts that may occur.
    • Diet
      • Diet is a major contributor to changes in gut microbial communities. Maintaining a varied diet has beneficial impacts on health and gut microbial communities. Maintaining healthy proportions of fruits and vegetables as well as all other food groups ensures that you provide your gut’s microbial communities with beneficial resources for their survival. Diversity of gut microbial communities is typically associated with more stable, resilient communities and ensuring a diverse, healthy diet can promote the growth of diverse ranges of healthy microbes in the gut. 
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