Thursday, February 3, 2011

Know yourself, or should I say ourselves?

Be who you are-Know yourself, or perhaps ourselves? 

I have earlier mentioned gut flora and that we are colonized, by a plethora of creatures. Our skin, mouth and gut are homes to a myriad of bacteria and viruses. They are “friendly” and live in symbiosis with us. They take up space and thus prevent hostile microbes to make themselves at home. Just like the planet we are living on, every human is walking around like a huge ecosystem.

If you look at yourself, you are in one way of looking at you more bacterial than human. We also have 10 times more bacterial cells in our body than human cells. This means that there are more genes in the flora in the intestinal system than the rest of our bodies. Therefore scientists have dubbed it the "second genome"This is why you get problems after eating penicillin. You kill your friendly microbes in your gut. We are colonized already as small babies.

One way you can follow human colonization of the most unreachable places on this planet like Antartica, is through the changes in the gut flora of the animals in the vicinity. The penguins have change their gut flora since the humans came to there are. So there are more than one way that we can pollute.

How can you study the impact of gut flora on an individual? There are screening studies up and running that will study the correlation with cancer and anorexia for example. There are also animal models that are born into sterile environments; they are called germ free or GF mice.

In a recent study, colonization by gut flora did have an impact on the behaviour of mice, and thus it might affect mammalian brain development.
The study compared germ free mice to mice constituted with normal gut flora.  It showed that germ free mice display increased motor activity and reduced anxiety. “This behavioral phenotype is associated with altered expression of genes known to be involved in second messenger pathways and synaptic long-term potentiation in brain regions implicated in motor control and anxiety-like behavior.”

This brings up the question of mood and food. I have lived both as a vegetarian, vegan and these days I do eat meat. Why did I start to eat meat? Because it helps my migrains in a way that science have yet to explain. I do not know if it slows the bowel movements of it affects my gut flora in a way that is beneficial to my brain. My friend has just gone the other way, his stomach problems pushed him into eating vegetarian and suddenly his moods improved. Perhaps the bacteria in our gut, who we are depending upon for nutrional intake and immunology, are affecting us in ways our imagination have yet to dream about. It is way to early if this will play an important role in treatment of the future, but I can dream. Will we give capsels with designed mixes of certain bacterias? Or will food get more attention among the medicals?

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