Have you ever taken medication and wondered why on earth it was ever recommended? Or why some test results indicate a drug works 70-percent of the time? What’s wrong with the other 30-percent?
New research is showing that genetics and individual make-ups of gut bacterial populations may a bigger role than expected in how people react to medications. Traditionally it was believed that medicine was metabolized by organs like the liver, but new research is showing microbial populations could be central to how a person responds to drug treatment.
Researchers from Yale found that gut bacteria play a role in processing more than 150 medicines. They pinpointed the bacteria responsible as well as the genes that allowed these bacteria to carry out drug metabolism. Overall, they identified about 75 kinds of bacteria that were involved with metabolizing medications, while nearly two-thirds of the drugs were metabolized by at least one bacteria species. This finding could play a major factor in determining individualized prescriptions and dosing guidelines.
The lead co-author of the study, Maria Zimmerman-Kogdeeva, said: “It is possible to that we can use genes or species of bacteria to predict the capacity of an individuals’ gut flora to metabolize a certain drug.” Gut flora is another way of saying gut bacteria, the populations of which make up your microbiome.
Although genetics play a big part in a person’s microbiome, they are not the only contributing factor. Eating a fiber-rich diet through plenty of fruit and vegetable consumption—one serving per meal—can help stimulate healthy gut bacteria. Including probiotic foods like yogurt and sauerkraut can also help build a more favorable microbiome that can contribute to improved overall health.
It’s possible that soon doctors may be able to best prescribe and treat illnesses based on their patient’s microbiome. But you can do your part by eating foods that promote a healthy bacterial population and creating a more inviting internal environment.
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