It’s no surprise to me, I am my own worst enemy..
For this blog post, since there wasn’t any suggested constraints on what to focus on I thought I would start of with a pretty broad search. I entered “microbiome today” into and google and received the following link as one of the top hits. This article comes from USA today, and it talks about our microbiome in a manner that very few think to view it as. At the beginning of the class this mayterm, we read a short memoir, for lack of a better term, pertaining to a very general view of the microbial world. Within it, the author mentions that there is a sense among humans that we are constantly under attack by our world which is plagued with germs at every turn. However, this is not truth, as a massive majority of these microbes don’t even acknowledge us as relevant part of their own existence. Many of them act to aid our bodies in the fighting off of foreign invaders. Only a small portion of microbes are actually pathogenic and pose a threat to our well being.
In this article, the reverse is addressed. The microbes that inhabit our own body are now threatened, and it is our own fault. “Modern life is changing the composition of critters that inhabit our bodies, and not always for the better”, says one researcher. Due to the modern style of clean living and a more industrialized world, our own lifestyle choices are compromising to our ancient microbes and could possibly be leading to the extinction of many of them. To elaborate, we live a life where the things we are putting into our bodies, such as food and water, are cleaner and more processed, meaning that our bacteria are not quite as needed as they are in areas of the world that don’t live as clean of a lifestyle. One such bacterium that inhabits our stomachs and is on the decline, one we will actually be discussing in class tomorrow I believe, is Heliobacter pylori. While this decrease can be good, since H. pylori is a common cause of stomach cancer and ulcers, it also acts to fight off other disease such as esophageal cancer. It has also been found to help reduce obesity, since it is the source of hormones that signal the body that it needs to keep eating or stop eating.
In terms of birth, newborn babies are exposed to a variety of microbes via the lining of the mother’s vagina, that sculpt the child’s microbiome to resemble the mother’s and help prepare it for the outside life. The same effect is present in breast feeding, exposing the baby to what is essentially good bacteria. Nowadays, there a stronger prevalence of cesarean sections and a lack of breast feeding, inhibiting the babies ability to receive the mother’s bacteria. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it just exposes the baby to a different set of microbes, and since this is an actively new field of research, we aren’t quite sure what it means just yet. This is the point, where the article collides with our class discussions again, as it has triggered an increase in interest in the field of probiotics and marketers attempts to promote health via beneficial microbiota. The article goes on to mention other methods and strategies employed by doctors to help maintain a healthy human microbiota. It is a very interesting article and concept, one that I would like to learn more about.