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.
Two recent research studies contribute to the growing body of evidence that the population of microbes residing in our intestines plays vital roles in our health. One is a meta-analysis of studies done to determine if taking probiotics alongside antibiotics can alleviate antibiotic associated diarrhea; results are reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association . The other evaluated the effects of red wine on the different species of bacteria in the gut; it appears in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition .