Concept: Until recently, no connection between nutrition and the body’s own bacteria was known – but the consequences of our nutrition are closely tied to the microorganisms of our digestive tract. These microorganisms are in no way passive; rather, they have a substantial influence on what happens to our food and thus to ourselves.
Recommendations for nutrition are made, for example that we have a high-fiber diet to avoid intestinal cancer or a “Cretan” or Mediterranean diet to prevent heart disease. But against the background of the microbiome-nutrition interaction, the definition of “proper” or “healthy” nutrition cannot be unambiguously defined and is urgently in need of discussion. The importance of microbes in the human organism has been perceived only recently, since the analysis of the microbiome, i.e., the global analysis of the aggregate of microorganisms in a sample like the human intestines, whereby a breakdown into the individual components is often impossible.
Now, suddenly entirely new aspects of the interaction between human and microbiome and indications of a role played by the microbiome in the implementation and release of bioactive substances (brain-gut axis) are emerging; and nutritional sciences seem as surprised as microbiology, which deals with the microbiome. The possible consequences of this new liaison between nutrition and microbiome challenge scientists to enter this unknown terrain. Information is lacking because there has been little exchange between the two areas of knowledge. The point here is not simply the exchange about known phenomena, but also the systematic interpretation and perspective of completely new knowledge, for example of the precise nutritional components, of their utilization through microbial metabolism, and of the effects of the resulting products on the human host – knowledge thereby encompassing a wide variety of disciplinary specializations.
Joe Alcock The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
Michael Blaut University of Potsdam
Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Potsdam
Nestlé Research Center
Consultant and independent investigator
University of Hohenheim
Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique
Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), Zeist
Université Nice Sophia Antipolis
DSM Nutritional Products Ltd., Kaiseraugst