What's your gut instinct?

August 18, 2017
What's your gut instinct?
CMI researchers launch public forum to encourage citizen scientists to ask questions and share insights that will help them understand the gut microbiome. Credit: University of California - San Diego

It's no secret that diet, exercise, medicine usage, and other habits affect your health and lifestyle, but how they do so is different for everyone. The Internet is filled with opinions on the matter. A quick Google search on "how do diet, exercise, medicine usage, and other habits affect your health and lifestyle" yields more than 3,000,000 results! A new project at UC San diego has set out to help alleviate some of the confusion by creating an educational platform for people to ask and answer gut health-related questions.

A collaboration between UC San Diego Center for Microbiome Innovation director Rob Knight's American Gut Project and the UC San Diego Design Lab, researchers have created a platform that encourages citizen scientists to provide contextual insights that are accessible to doctors and researchers who study the gut microbiome. The project, appropriately named "Gut Instinct" (currently in beta version), houses online lectures about how diet, antibiotics and other factors might influence the microbiome, and training modules to teach people about asking useful questions. Gut Instinct is now open for anyone to use and share their insights at gutinstinct.ucsd.edu.

"By using Gut Instinct, not only do you learn about the gut microbiome, but you help scientists get a deeper look at the data by providing specific insights from your personal experience that cannot be collected in the lab," said Vineet Pandey, computer science graduate student and the lead on the project.

Currently, samples from citizen scientists all over the world (stool, skin, oral, environmental, etc.) are received, sequenced and analyzed by the American Gut Project with a goal of building a map of the human microbiome. The database of sequences and associated (anonymous) host metadata are open-source.

"Gut Instinct allows American Gut researchers to tap into people's life experiences and make correlations that can help improve our understanding of the ," said Pandey.

Once logged into the platform, a curious citizen scientist receives a quick tour before submitting a question to the "gut board", where it is open for discussion.

"Sharing insights as specific questions makes the content easy to parse," said Pandey. "Moving forward, we want to work with participants who have certain ailments, like Inflammatory Bowel Disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. We hypothesize that these specific groups will have specific insights, and they will be highly motivated to act as citizen scientists."

In the near future, Pandey hopes to add infrastructure that enables people to design and run their own experiments that test their "gut instincts."

Explore further: Searching the microbiome for clues to managing inflammatory bowel disease

Related Stories

Searching the microbiome for clues to managing inflammatory bowel disease

April 8, 2015
Sometimes the best medicine is the most basic. Just ask any of the patients with inflammatory bowel disease who are following a new diet designed to reduce the debilitating symptoms of the illness, developed by Barbara Olendzki, ...

Study looks at how changes in maternal diet impact human milk oligosaccharides and milk microbiome

January 23, 2017
In a study to be presented Thursday, Jan. 26, in the oral plenary session, at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting, researchers with Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas and ...

uBiome project seeking to sequence the human microbiome

February 20, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Three health researchers have set up a project called uBiome, on the crowd sourcing site indiegogo, with the aim of sequencing the human microbiome—microbes that live on and in the human body. The purpose ...

Report answers questions about the human microbiome and its role in health, obesity

January 9, 2014
The human microbiome, the collection of trillions of microbes living in and on the human body, is not random, and scientists believe that it plays a role in many basic life processes. As science continues to explore and better ...

Insights into the ecology of the microbiome

June 13, 2016
The microbiome is like a fingerprint: every person's community of microbes is complex and unique. But the underlying dynamics, the interactions between the microbes that shape these microbial ecosystems, may have something ...

Recommended for you

Scientists find key to regenerating blood vessels

November 23, 2017
A new study led by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) identifies a signaling pathway that is essential for angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels. The ...

Researchers find infectious prions in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease patient skin

November 22, 2017
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)—the human equivalent of mad cow disease—is caused by rogue, misfolded protein aggregates termed prions, which are infectious and cause fatal damages in the patient's brain. CJD patients ...

Surprising roles for muscle in tissue regeneration, study finds

November 22, 2017
A team of researchers at Whitehead has illuminated an important role for different subtypes of muscle cells in orchestrating the process of tissue regeneration. In a paper published in the November 22 issue of Nature, they ...

Study reveals new mechanisms of cell death in neurodegenerative disorders

November 22, 2017
Researchers at King's College London have discovered new mechanisms of cell death, which may be involved in debilitating neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

How rogue immune cells cross the blood-brain barrier to cause multiple sclerosis

November 21, 2017
Drug designers working on therapeutics against multiple sclerosis should focus on blocking two distinct ways rogue immune cells attack healthy neurons, according to a new study in the journal Cell Reports.

New simple test could help cystic fibrosis patients find best treatment

November 21, 2017
Several cutting-edge treatments have become available in recent years to correct the debilitating chronic lung congestion associated with cystic fibrosis. While the new drugs are life-changing for some patients, they do not ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.