Researchers of Oregon State University have found that problems such as autoimmune disease, to clinical depression, and simple obesity may in fact be linked to immune dysfunction that begins with a "failure to communicate" in the human gut.
Dr Natalia Shulzhenko said that the human gut plays a huge role in immune function and it is little appreciated by people who think its only role is digestion.
Shulzhenko said that the combined number of genes in the microbiota genome is 150 times larger than the person in which they reside.
She said that an emerging theory of disease is a disruption in the "crosstalk" between the microbes in the human gut and other cells involved in the immune system and metabolic processes.
Shulzhenko said that in a healthy person, these microbes in the gut stimulate the immune system as needed, and it in turn talks back.
She added that the increasing disruption of these microbes caused by modern lifestyle, diet, overuse of antibiotics and other issues is breaking down this "conversation."
The study was published in Clinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology.