The Gut As an Immune Organ

Editor(s): Y. Sano, J.L. Hermsen, K.A. Kudsk Clinical Nutrition Highlights volume 4 issue 2 , 2008


Humans share the environment with huge numbers of microorganisms. According to Whitman et al. 4–6 x 1030 prokaryotic cells exist on earth.1 All animals ingest food and water for energy, while living in contact with a significant bacterial burden in nearly every environment. Food is usually clean in industrialized cultures but may not be in non-industrialized parts of the world. Regardless of the food source and/or processing, the gut processes the food and water in our daily life for digestion and absorption. The gut also functions as an immune organ to protect us from any ingested, potentially pathogenic bacteria.