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2.4 Embracing Diversity for Personalized Health: The Intersection of Exposome, Microbiome, and Immunity

David Attenborough’s recent documentary underscores the critical role of biodiversity in maintaining ecological balance, a concept that resonates with human health. Imagine a forest dominated by a single tree species. This monoculture lacks the richness of plants and animals that typically interact and support each other. If a disease or pest targets that one species, the entire forest could suffer devastation. Throughout life, we encounter a vast array of external and internal signals, collectively termed the exposome.  The external exposome encompasses dietary choices, behavioral factors, pollutants, and social interactions, while the internal exposome includes signals like gut microbiota and their metabolites.


Exposure to a diverse exposome fosters the diversification of the microbiome, which dynamically interacts with the mucosa-associated immune system. This richly varied microbiome acts as a crucible for the immune system, instructing it in distinguishing between beneficial and harmful bacteria. This intricate interplay nurtures immune tolerance and regulatory mechanisms. Conversely, limited exposure to environmental factors, dietary choices, and social interactions can impede the adaptation and flourishing of our gut microbiome. A less diverse microbiome may struggle to identify and counteract new pathogens effectively, akin to an immune system trained solely on a narrow spectrum of threats, potentially precipitating immune-related disorders.


Growing up on a farm or maintaining regular contact with pets can broaden an individual's exposure to diverse microbes, potentially enriching microbiome diversity. Studies indicate that urban residents may exhibit less diverse microbiomes compared to those residing in rural areas, likely attributed to reduced exposure to soil microbes and increased consumption of processed foods. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains promotes the proliferation of beneficial bacteria that generate short-chain fatty acids, nurturing gut lining cells and modulating inflammation. Conversely, a diet high in processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats can stimulate the overgrowth of harmful bacteria. While essential for combating infections, antibiotics can also deplete beneficial gut bacteria, emphasizing the importance of restoring gut health post-treatment. Dietary monotony or antibiotic usage can disrupt the delicate equilibrium of the gut microbiome, precipitating dysbiosis or an imbalance in microbial communities.


These examples provide only a glimpse into the evolving field of exposome research and highlight the potential for personalized health strategies. By broadening the exposome through immersion in natural environments, participating in diverse social interactions, and embracing a balanced diet abundant in prebiotics and fermented foods, individuals can cultivate a diverse microbiome and foster regulated immune responses.The key to good health lies in optimizing the dynamic interplay between a diverse exposome, microbiome, and their mutual interaction, fostering immune response diversity.

 

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Daiber A, Lelieveld J, et.al. (2019) The "exposome" concept - how environmental risk factors influence cardiovascular health. Acta Biochim Pol. Sep 10;66(3):269-283. doi: 10.18388/abp.2019_2853.

Thursby, E., & Juge, N. (2017). Introduction to the human gut microbiota. Biochemical Journal, 474(11), 1823-1836.

Belkaid, Y., & Hand, T. W. (2014). Role of the microbiota in immunity and inflammation. Cell, 157(1), 121-141.

Valdes, A. M., Walter, J., Segal, E., & Spector, T. D. (2018). Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health. BMJ, 361, k2179.

Lynch, S. V., & Pedersen, O. (2016). The human intestinal microbiome in health and disease. New England Journal of Medicine, 375(24), 2369-2379.

Blaser, M. J. (2018). The theory of disappearing microbiota and the epidemics of chronic diseases. Nature Reviews Immunology, 17(8), 461-463.

Arrieta, M. C., et. al. (2014). The intestinal microbiome in early life: health and disease. Frontiers in Immunology, 5, 427.

 

# Exposome # Diversity # Microbiome # Immune diversity # Resilience # Tolerance # Biological Shield



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