This time of the year, as daylight grows shorter and holidays arrive, families and friends come together to celebrate. It’s a wonderful and magical time. It’s also a time to consider the year gone by. For those following the Gregorian calendar, the arrival of New Year’s Eve prompts plans to make changes in our lives. Some lists of resolutions can be short, but with enormous goals, such as promises to quit smoking. Other lists can be very long, including changes to all aspects of daily life. Nonetheless, the main intention is generally to improve our lives.
New Year’s resolution ideas vary, as do ways to achieve them. We may focus more on improving our mental well-being, our education, career or finances. A huge number of resolutions concern improvement of physical well-being. Most people think it is easy to exercise or start a diet program, but often forget that without proper knowledge and preparation, they can do themselves more harm than good.
Proper diet has a huge impact on our health. Food is essential for our physical and psychological functioning. Adjusting dietary intakes can act to improve health, but the wrong diet and lack of necessary balance of nutrients may cause or exacerbate serious conditions. Unfortunately, there are still prevalent misunderstandings about nutritional requirements and most people have insufficient knowledge about their needs. It is extremely important to understand how diet can influence the human body. Many chronic health problems develop because of nutritional imbalance. Both deficiency and excess supplementation may cause cancer, arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, coronary heart disease, anemia, skin conditions like dermatitis and Pellagra or even depression [1,2].
A very important and often overlooked aspect is the impact of proper diet on composition and metabolic activity of the human gut microbiota. We have approximately 100 trillion microorganisms in our gastrointestinal tract which can produce many bioactive compounds. Some of these products are beneficial to humans, while some of them are toxic. Abnormalities in gut microbial populations are associated with developing inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, tissue inflammations, colorectal cancer or neurodevelopmental disorders, among others .
The right isolation technique can allow us to obtain information from genomic DNA isolated from stool or gut material and help improve our understanding of the complexity of the gut microbiota. One tool to help clarify these questions is the QIAamp PowerFecal Pro DNA Kit, used for removing tough inhibitors from stool, gut and biosolid samples and providing clean, ready-to-use DNA for any downstream application such as qPCR, Sanger sequencing and next-generation sequencing. With the included Inhibitor Removal Technology, inhibitors from digested food, heme from lysed red blood cells in stool and other PCR inhibitors are eliminated, leaving only high-quality DNA ready for downstream applications.
Undoubtedly, our health is the most important aspect of our lives. It is worth the effort to take care of our bodies and minds. Any change reflected in our diet, physical activity or personal development is a good step; it affects our general well-being and helps us to prevent disease. However, there are still many gaps in understanding the impact of lifestyle and diet on our health. Microbiome research is only one way to attempt to understand what is good for us. Ahead of your New Year’s resolutions, do some research, talk to your doctor and try to determine what you can do to improve your health and the health of your microbiome.
- 1. Shridhar G, Rajendra N, Murigendra H, Shridevi P, Prasad M, et al. (2015) Modern Diet and its Impact on Human Health. J Nutr Food Sci 5:430. doi: 10.4172/2155-9600.1000430 (link)
2. Emily L. Guo, Rajani Katta (2017) Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatol Pract Concept; 7(1): 1–10. (link)
3. Michael A. Conlon, Anthony R. Bird (2015) The Impact of Diet and Lifestyle on Gut Microbiota and Human Health. Nutrients; 7(1): 17–44. (link)