Consider the following:
we are all 99.9% identical in terms of our human genome, but can be 90% different in terms of our gut microbes.
despite the billions of dollars spent in human genome research, it is difficult to impossible to figure out who will get a disease from the genome. however, we can tell whether someone is lean or obese with 90% accuracy from their microbiome (all of our gut bacteria and their genes).
we know that the microbiome provides a large number of metabolic capabilities we would otherwise lack, educates our immune system, and causes us to metabolize some foods and drugs differently. it is truly an essential organ consisting of microbes who we have shared our evolutionary history with and has been linked to an increasing number of ailments and conditions.
we also know that diet and lifestyle choices can have a significant impact on your microbiome, which in turn may increase susceptibility to certain diseases and ailments.
90% of the cells in your body are microbial, while only 10% are human. we are more microbe than mammal.
The government’s Human Microbiome Project effort sampled only healthy adults, mostly medical students! While it was an amazing project, did it really capture the American Gut? We are not sure, so we decided to find out. We are calling on athletes, couch potatoes, vegans, diabetics, Paleo dieters, centenarians etc – we need your help. If you have IBD, diabetes, celiac, autism or some other condition – we need you too. Hell, we need every bump that is the texture of the American population.
If you have ever wondered about the microbes you carry in your gut, this is the chance to find out. The more people who join the study, the more interesting the data will be. We are particularly interested in participants who follow a set diet and lifestyle. For example, if you follow a gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, low glycemic or Paleo/Primal diet, we are very interested in you (middle of the road is fine as well). If you follow a Weight Watchers, DASH, Mediterranean, Ornish, Slim-Fast or similar diets, we are very very interested in you joining the study. We are also interested in multiple people from the same house and people who keep track of calories on a website or mobile application.
If you would like to receive an e-mail 24 hours before the project goes live, click here.
Around the first week of September, we will be launching a project on Indiegogo that will allow anyone in America above the age of 3 months to make a donation and submit a sample to the largest crowd sourced gut microbiome project in history. With the small home kit we send you, and a confidential questionnaire about the things you nibble on and your general lifestyle, we will sequence (16S ribosomal RNA) the genetic material in your gut bugs and provide you with a print out of the bacteria and their abundance. You will also be able to compare your gut bugs to other groups like Amerindians in Venezuela, populations in Malawi, other groups in the U.S., hunter-gatherers in southern Africa or even other primates.
Researcher from the following universities and research institutes will be participating in the interpretation of the data: University of Puerto Rico, University of Colorado at Boulder, North Carolina State University, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Northern Arizona University, Cornell University, The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, University of Chicago.
If you would like to receive an e-mail 24 hours before the project goes live, click (on their website link at the bottom of this page).
We know very little yet about how the microbiome is assembled, how microbes in different parts of the body interact with each other to affect health and disease, and about how we can change the microbiome. We do know that the microbiome has changed profoundly for each of us from birth to adulthood (and how you enter this world matters – c-section vs natural birth); we know that it is different in different human populations, and that it is difficult to change with short-term diet. For example, the western gut microbiome (that’s you) is profoundly different from that of people from Malawi or Venezuela we mentioned above. The non-western people have far lower rates of diabetes, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, allergies, etc. So perhaps moving your microbiome from “here” to “there” will provide these same benefits. But at the moment we don’t know what “good” looks like, or how to get from “bad” to “good.” Your current diet and lifestyle may get us closer to an answer.
So around the first part of September we will launch the project that will allow you to sign up by donating to the project. But this will be on a first come, first analyzed basis. If you want to get an email 24 hours before we go live with this important project, provide your email below so you don’t miss out. The overall space for the project will be limited as well. Join us and tell someone you care about.
via American Gut.