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The Yanomami
Microbiome Project

The Human Microbiome

The human microbiome is the collection of trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes, living in and on our bodies. Predominantly found in the gut, these microorganisms play crucial roles in digestion, immune function, and overall health. They help break down food, produce essential nutrients, and protect against harmful pathogens.


Each person's microbiome is unique, influenced by factors such as diet, environment, and lifestyle. Recent research has highlighted significant differences between the gut microbiomes of industrialized populations and those of remote and isolated indigenous communities.

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Impact of Industrialization on Health

Societies characterized by technological advancements, urbanization, and lifestyle and diet shifts have had a profound impact on the gut microbiome and associated health effects, particularly chronic diseases. The Westernized diet, known for its excessive consumption of processed foods, sugars, unhealthy fats, and low fiber intake, disrupts the balance of gut microbial communities. This dysbiosis plays a significant role in chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, and metabolic disorders like obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Furthermore, the widespread and indiscriminate use of antibiotics, both in medicine and agriculture, has a profound impact on the gut microbiota, leading to long-term alterations in microbial composition and function.

This disturbance in microbial diversity significantly weakens immune regulation, thereby exacerbating inflammatory responses and increasing susceptibility to autoimmune diseases, allergies, and asthma. Hygiene practices prevalent in modern societies also play a role. Excessive sanitation reduces microbial exposure, hindering the development of a robust immune system and promoting allergic and autoimmune reactions.

Understanding the intricate relationship between the industrialization process, the gut microbiome, and chronic diseases is crucial for developing strategies to mitigate their impact on public health and promote wellness in contemporary societies. 

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The Yanomami Microbiome

The majority of the Yanomami population, with their unique gut microbiome, maintain a lifestyle of hunting, foraging, and small-scale gardening. Their diet, abundant in fiber from fruits, vegetables, and wild game, fosters diverse microbial communities. This diverse microbiome may play a pivotal role in supporting their robust immune function and digestive health, contributing significantly to their overall well-being and the absence of chronic, inflammatory diseases


However, as some Yanomami communities increasingly integrate with the dominant national culture, new health risks emerge, highlighting the importance of preserving their traditional practices and protecting their ecosystem.  

Facilitating Research

The Yanomami Foundation is leading the way in exploring the structure and function of the Yanomami microbiome. The research involves studying the Yanomami food systems, culture, and environment. By bridging the knowledge gap regarding the relationship between the microbiome and human health, we move closer to truly understanding disease, health, and the human body. 

This crucial research not only benefits humanity worldwide, but also enhances our understanding of the unintended consequences of transculturation among the Yanomami. It also underscores the essential measures required to safeguard their resilient microbiome and traditional lifestyles. The Yanomami people play a unique and crucial role in microbiome research, serving not merely as participants, but as co-producers of knowledge. Their involvement fosters a climate of respectful exchange of information and skills, making them indispensable to global microbiome research.​

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The Yanomami Foundation, with its unwavering commitment to the Yanomami people, is dedicated to supporting research projects that adhere to high bioethical standards and good stewardship practices. These include community-based participatory approaches, sharing research results, community outreach projects, providing intercultural training, and monetary benefit sharing. By fostering relationships with the Yanomami people, we ensure that the research process is not just ethical, but also respectful and beneficial to all parties involved. These principles of microbiome research are a testament to our responsible use of the resources provided by our funders and stakeholders.

Support the Yanomami Foundation today!

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