The image shows the beneficial gut microbe Bifidobacterium breve. These are found at high levels in breast-fed infants. The presence of Bifidobacterium at birth (and throughout early life) largely impacts the wider bacterial ecosystem leading to a 'healthy' microbiota that can be maintained into adulthood. Credit: Kathryn Cross, Quadram Institute
How can we look after the trillions of beneficial bacteria inside our gut?
Our bodies are home to a diverse population of microbes– our ‘microbiota’ – and they have a wide range of important effects that start at birth. At this exhibit you can explore the amazing variety of bacteria that colonise our gut, and the roles they play in our growth, development and wellbeing.
Beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium, are living in our gut right from the start of our lives and are important for our healthy development. They help us to digest our food, and they are crucial to building a strong immune system. When these microbial communities are disturbed, for example through antibiotic use or dietary changes, it may predispose us to allergies and chronic diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease. A team at the Quadram Institute are researching how our birth and conditions in early life can change our gut microbiota and how this can impact our health. They are developing ways to improve and protect the bacterial ecosystem inside us, to help us stay healthy and to treat disease.
Find out more about the Hall Lab.
Presented by the Quadram Institute.