Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates says that simple probiotic pills—essentially a supplement—could hold the key to bringing about the end to malnutrition across the planet. And we could do it in this lifetime, he says.
Probiotics, of course, are “good bacteria” that help our body maintain a healthy gut. These organisms are commonly added to foods to help in digestion and improve overall health. You can often find them in yogurt and kombucha, among other food sources.
Now, many people consider these “functional foods” as just a gimmick. The Microsoft founder, however, believes that the science surrounding them provides more than enough evidence to save millions of lives. Mr. Gates will speak more on this at the annual Hawking Fellowship Lecture at Cambridge University Union, this week.
Furthermore, Gates says that with everything going on in the world, the one problem he would prioritize is malnutrition. In a recent interview he commented that malnutrition is “the greatest health inequity in the world—but thanks to new scientific breakthroughs, I believe we will find a way to solve it within 20 years.”
He goes on to argue that better scientific understanding of our microbiome—and, particularly, those microorganisms that inhabit our gut—will provide a means to develop “smartly engineered” probiotic pills to help our bodies retain more of the nutrients we derive from the food we consume.
He attests, “In the future, we’ll be able to create next-generation probiotic pills that contain ideal combinations of bacteria—even ones that are tailored to your specific gut.”
This is important, he says, because research tells us that a lack of nutrients in the earliest years of our lives are actually responsible for the mental and physical “stunting” of approximately 155 million children around the world, every year. Indeed, Gates adds that the latest research into the human microbiome wil continue to reveal new insights that will lead to unlocking the key to perfect nutrition and, in the process, improve health for several million [underserved] people in the process.