What Does the Indian Gut Reveal About Indians?

AROUND 15 years ago, Dr Yogesh Shouche, a scientist with the National Centre for Cell Science,Pune, was on a flight returning from a conference with a friend who was a paediatrician. As they got talking, the discussion turned to probiotic products, food in which good bacteria is added for health. The doctor told Shouche that from first-hand experience, he had observed that commercially available probiotic preparations were not effective in India because they had been developed for the Western population. Moreover, there had been no studies in the country to find out how the micro- organisms that live in the human digestive tract, like bacteria, fungi, viruses, etcetera, were different for Indians. The conversation prompted Shouche to conduct a study comparing the gut microbiome— the total genetic material of these microbes—of babies delivered after vaginal and caesarean deliveries. Inside the womb, a developing baby has no microbes. When born, during the passage to the vagina, the baby acquires them from the mother. However, if the delivery is caesarean, instead of getting them from the mother, it instead picks microbes from the hospital environment. This phenomenon can have an effect on the baby’s health long into the future and that was what Shouche planned to look at.....Read more


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