NIH Human Microbiome Project Defines Normal Bacterial Makeup of the Body

Microbes inhabit just about every part of the human body, living on the skin, in the gut, and up the nose. Sometimes they cause sickness, but most of the time, microorganisms live in harmony with their human hosts, providing vital functions essential for human survival. For the first time, a consortium of researchers organized by the National Institutes of Health has mapped the normal microbial makeup of healthy humans, producing numerous insights and even a few surprises.

Human microbiome


Quercetin is a polyphenol, one of a number of water-soluble plant pigments called flavonoids (meaning class of plant secondary metabolites known for their antioxidant activity) that are largely responsible for the color of many flowers, fruits and vegetables. High concentrations of quercetin are found in apples, onions, tea and red wine [1]. Other sources of quercetin include olive oil, grapes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, dark cherries and dark berries such as blueberries, blackberries and bilberries. The average U.S. citizen eating a normal, healthy diet including fruits and vegetables consumes approximately 25-50 mg of quercetin/day. Quercetin and other flavonoids (also referred to as bioflavonoids) cannot be produced in the human body.

Alternative to Dichloroacetate

It’s been three months since an article on dichloroacetate (DCA), the chemotherapeutic agent that selectively inhibits cancer cell growth in lung, breast and brain tumor cells grown in culture and lung tumors grown in immunocompromised rats, was published on Highlight HEALTH. Since then, thousands of people have read the article. Indeed, the blogosphere has been buzzing about DCA, unfortunately focusing on a conspiracy theory accusing big pharma of suppressing a cure for cancer instead of recognizing the study for what it is — a preliminary study in cell culture and rats that cannot be translated to humans without further research and clinical trials.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is used in many tissues throughout the body. The adrenal gland contains the highest concentration of vitamin C, and the vitamin plays a crucial role in both the adrenal cortex and adrenal medulla [1]. Humans are one of the few species that cannot manufacture the vitamin in the body and must depend on diet or nutritional supplementation as a source of vitamin C. The best sources of vitamin C are fresh fruit (especially in the citrus family, including oranges, lemons, limes and tangerines), strawberries, cantaloupe and currants. Green leafy vegetables, including Brussel sprouts, collard greens, lettuce, cabbage, peas and asparagus, are also good sources.