Friday, October 14, 2011

Scientists blame your friendly “bugs” for weight problem …

Did you know that your body contains about 100 trillion cells, but only maybe one in 10 is human? Scary, isn’t it. Humans, we have come to find out, are mostly a bunch of “microbes - primarily bacteria but also viruses, fungi and a panoply of other microorganisms.”

In a recent article, published in the Washington Post, researchers reported that there is a growing body of evidence which seems to show that “microbial ecosystems” play an important role maintaining health.

And, “that modern trends - diet, antibiotics, obsession with cleanliness, Caesarean deliveries - are disrupting this delicate balance, contributing to some of the most perplexing ailments, including asthma, allergies, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, cancer and perhaps even autism.”

“Equipped with super-fast new DNA decoders, scientists are accelerating the exploration of this realm at a molecular level, yielding provocative insights into how these microbial stowaways may wield far greater powers than previously appreciated in, paradoxically, making us human.”

'The field has exploded,” said Jeffrey I. Gordon of Washington University, who pioneered the exploration of humanity’s microbial inhabitants, known as the 'microbiome” or 'microbiota.” 'People have this sense of wonderment about looking at themselves as a compilation of microbial and human parts.”

"In terms of potential for human health, I would place it with stem cells as one of the two most promising areas of research at the moment,” said Rob Knight of the University of Colorado. 'We’re seeing an unprecedented rate of discovery. Everywhere we look, microbes seem to be involved.”

'We have to be very careful in how we state what we know at the present time versus what we think might be true at this point,” said David A. Relman of Stanford University. 'But it’s probably fair to say that our indigenous communities are more diverse, more complex and more intimately and intricately involved in our biology than we thought.”

Now, what about bugs and obesity?

According to an article, “…studies indicate that gut dwellers (the aforementioned “bugs”) secrete messengers to cells lining the digestive tract to modulate key hormones, such as leptin and ghrelin, which are players in regulating metabolism, hunger and a sense of fullness.

Pregnant women often take antibiotics, and young children can get several rounds to fight ear and other infections, which can kill off these companions. Farmers commonly add antibiotics to animal feed to fatten their animals faster.

'We may have a generation of children growing up without the proper bacteria to regulate their leptin and ghrelin,” Blaser said.

Obese people appear to have a distinctive mix of digestive bacteria that make them prone to weight gain. Thin mice get fatter when their microbiota is replaced with the microbes of obese animals.

 Now I have proof… the bugs made me do it!

 See the article: “Microbes May Play Crucial Role in Human Health, Researchers Discovering”, Washington Post, Rob Stein

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