Gut4u: the workings of the gut microbiome

Intestinal Importance is an initiative led jointly by the Maag Lever Darm Stichting (Stomach, Liver and Bowel Foundation – MLDS), Wageningen University & Research and the University Medical Centre Groningen. Our aim is to better understand the workings of the microbiome and to use that understanding to prevent diseases and disorders that affect or originate from the gut. This will also help us to improve disease treatment and reduce symptoms.

Gut4u is focused on awareness raising, research and the implementation of applications. Our four pillars are:

Pillar 1: A better understanding of the gut microbiome

The digestive system is home to a large collection of bacteria, viruses and fungi, particularly within the gut. These are collectively referred to as the gut microbiome. It’s important for us to improve our understanding of this microbiome. Some bacteria are associated with disease, while others are actually very important for your health. An imbalance in the gut microbiome can trigger diseases such as Crohn’s disease or cancer. And if the brain and gut no longer communicate well with each other, this can lead to depression or Parkinson's disease, for example.

Pillar 2: Developing applications

Gut4u wants to help prevent healthy people from becoming ill and improve treatments for those who are already ill. We’re doing this by improving the monitoring of the gut microbiome, identifying problems quickly and constantly coming up with better treatments. We want to develop solid applications that practitioners can put to good use. These include new clinical treatment options and lifestyle interventions.

Pillar 3: Clinical applications in practice

Gut4u wants clinical treatment options and lifestyle interventions to be as widespread as possible, because that’s the only way they can make a difference. To achieve this, we work with healthcare professionals and patients on the one hand, so that we can keep improving our understanding of how modifying the gut microbiome benefits health. And on the other hand, we work with entrepreneurs who develop applications and put them on the market.

Pillar 4: Awareness raising and behavioural change

Looking after your gut microbiome is a way of maintaining good health. Using campaigns and tailored lifestyle advice, we want to raise awareness and encourage behavioural change. We’re doing this in partnership with behavioural and social scientists.