Lactobacillus bacteria are plentiful in the healthy human gut. (ASM Microbe Library )
There’s a lot of talk these days about the role of gut bacteria in disease and health. The latest report in that area: a study in Nature that finds differences between the bacteria growing in the guts of people who have diabetes and those who don't.
The Chinese and European authors of the study used DNA analysis to figure out the bacterial populations inside 345 Chinese people.
They found that people with diabetes had mild gut disturbances. They had fewer bacteria that make a compound called butyrate, for example. And they had higher levels of various bacteria that can increase in number when opportunity strikes and thereby cause disease.
Reduced numbers of butyrate-producing bacteria are also seen in people who are older and in people who have colorectal cancer -- implying that these bacteria could play a generally protective role in the gut, the authors wrote.
For more about the teeming life that lives within and on us, read about the so-called Human Microbiome Project. Also, here's more about the potential link between gut bacteria and obesity, skin bacteria and immune development and other connections between our microbial tenants and disease.