Intestines are an important part of the digestive system. Apart from facilitating absorption and digestion of foods, they also help in building immunity. The intestinal microbiome is a complex system consisting of an uncountable number of microorganisms and bacteria that aid in absorption of nutrients and generate energy, while protecting us from viruses and harmful bacteria. However, modernisation of lifestyle and unhealthy dietary habits have led to a big change in the functioning of the intestinal system. In fact, a recent study claims that the newly adapted dietary and hygienic habits may have led to a decrease in the bacteria 'Prevotella copri', a common human gut microbe that helps in digestion.
Scientists of Eurac Research of the University of Trento examined samples of the gut bacteria found in the intestine of mummy 'Otzi', the Iceman who was found in the ice of the Otztal Alps on the common border of Italy and Austria, in the year 1991. The team compared the findings with the test result of the previous study by the university that had analysed the genome of intestinal microorganisms of over 6500 individuals from all continents. The earlier study had divulged that there was a relationship between the microbiome's bacterial content and modernisation in Western countries. The particular kind of good gut bacteria helps in processing complex and vegetal fibres in the intestine.
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The scientists discovered that there was a certain degree of depletion in the bacteria in the present generation that could be attributed to industrialisation, conditions like allergies, autoimmune and gastrointestinal diseases, and obesity. The final findings were published in the journal of 'Universita di Trento.'
Sedentary lifestyle in an urban setting brought in changes in diet, which is relatively higher in fat content and low in fibres. It also led to the development of new hygiene habits and the widespread use of antibiotics and other medical products. The researchers believe that all these factors may have contributed in upsetting the delicate balance of our intestinal microbiome, which could cause digestive issues.