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Volume 38, No. 2

Your Gut's Gone Viral

And That Might Be Good For Your Health

Everywhere you turn, it seems, there's news about the human microbiome. And, more specifically, about the bacteria that live in your gut and help keep you healthy.

Those bacteria, it turns out, are hiding a big secret: their own microbiome.

A study published Monday suggests some viruses in your gut could be beneficial. And these viruses don't just hang out in your intestines naked and homeless. They liveinside the bacteria that make their home in your gut.

These particular viruses are called bacteriophages. And, until recently, many scientists had sort of ignored the ones in the gut, says Mark Young, a virologist at Montana State University. Researchers didn't have good tools to study these phages, Young says, and understanding them hasn't been a priority, because they don't seem to cause problems.

"Most virologists are looking at how viruses cause disease," he explains. "We're flipping that around, and looking at the possible role for viruses in promoting health."

To begin their study, he and his team sequenced the genes of bacteriophages found in the guts of two people. They combined their data with evidence from a previous study, which had sequenced bacteriophages in more than 160 people from the U.S. and the U.K. Read the full article.

Originally published August 29, 2016 by By Michaeleen Doucleff

Image by NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. See licensing agreement.

For informational purposes only - not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, nor an endorsement by the American Nutrition Association®. Use permitted for non-profit and non-commercial uses or by healthcare professionals in their practice, with attribution to Other use only with written ANA℠ permission. Views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the ANA℠. Works by a listed author subject to copyrights as marked. © 2010 ANA℠