We are researchers who work on nutrition and the gut. Our research looks at our amazing gut microbiome and the role of nutrition in health and disease. Ask us anything!
Hi Reddit! Gary Frost, Julian Marchesi and James Kinross here.
This AMA is part of #ImperialLates - this month exploring the science of food. Check out the full programme here.
We are researchers and clinicians who work at Imperial College London and we’re all interested in gut function. Did you know, our gut is a central signal organ for the rest of the body? Far from just digesting, it plays a huge role in health and disease, as well as influencing the way we eat, think and feel.
Our gut, or gastrointestinal tract, begins at our mouth and ends at our rectum. It processes food from the time it is eaten until it is either absorbed by the body or passed as our stools (faeces). Bacteria live throughout this system in what is known as the gut microbiome.
In many ways, your gut microbiome is as vast and mysterious as the Milky Way. About 100 trillion bacteria, both good and bad, live inside your digestive system. Our bodies have co-evolved to live with these bacteria and they interact with our cells and organs in intricate ways that we still don’t fully understand. From altering the way that we respond to drugs, to influencing cravings and appetite, this culture of microorganisms perform a myriad of processes, which we’re trying to unpick.
The gut is also a driver of health and disease, from malnutrition to colorectal cancer, Crohn’s disease to obesity, there is a lot that can go wrong! Our work tries to understand these diseases so we can promote better gut health and wellbeing for all.
During this AMA we’re happy to answer all your questions on the gut microbiome and its role in health and disease, appetite regulation, colorectal surgery and much more. Please read bios below for more information on our areas of expertise. We'll be here 4-6 PM UK time today but will endeavour to answer follow up questions over the next couple of days.
Gary works on nutrition, food and dietetics
As head of the Section for Nutrition Research and lead of the Imperial Nutrition and Food Network Gary works on a wide range of fascinating projects. His interests span from carbohydrates’ impact on appetite regulation, metabolism and body composition, to the short chain fatty acids produced by our gut microbiome, as well as food structure, obesity management, and nutrition in the elderly.
Julian works on the gut microbiome
As Professor of Digestive Health at Imperial, Julian’s research tries to understand the roles that bacteria in our gut microbiome play in maintaining health and promoting disease. His work looks at the metabolites produced by the gut microbiome, and how they drive health, control infections and provide protection against invading pathogens aka colonization resistance, as well as their roles in diseases like cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and obesity
James works on colorectal surgery and the gut microbiome
As a consultant colorectal surgeon at St. Mary’s Hospital London, James’ clinical interests are in minimally invasive and laparoscopic surgery for the treatment of colorectal cancer. He also has an interest in how we can modulate the gut microbiome to improve the outcomes of operations, and the role the gut microbiome plays in colon cancer, Crohn’s disease and obesity through inflammation.