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Saturday, August 9, 2014

What are we made of?

William Irwin Thompson said “A World is neither an ideology nor a scientific institution, nor is it even a system of ideologies; rather, it is a structure of unconscious relations and symbiotic processes.”

The cover page headlines of the August Issue of the International Business weekly The Economist, screamed “Microbes Maketh Man”.

The traditional view is that a human body is a collection of 10 trillion cells which are themselves the products of 23,000 genes. These numbers radically underestimate the truth! What did this statement “Microbes Maketh Man” actually mean?!!

 I would share below a story about Microbes in three parts, the first part is about what is a microbe the 2nd is about how the microbes are beneficial to humans and the third part is about problems related to these microbes.
A microbe is another term used to describe a micro-organism.
In the nooks and crannies of every human being and especially in his or her guts, dwells "the ecological community of symbiotic microbes that literally share our body space." The expression used to describe this community of microbes is the Microbiome.

Did you know that scientists believe that the human body contains over 10 times more microbial cells than human cells, although the entire microbiome only weighs about 200 grams (7.1 oz),

So How does this arrangement between humans and microbes work? The microbiome does many jobs in exchange for the raw materials and shelter its host provides, like helping the host in digestion, making vitamins and also making molecules which regulate activities of human cells!.

The first job that the Microbiome does is to feed people more than 10% of their daily calories. These are derived from plant carbohydrates that human enzymes are unable to break down.

And not just plant carbohydrates. Mother’s milk contains carbohydrates called glycans which human enzymes cannot digest, but bacterial ones can. This shows how closely host and microbiome have co-evolved over the years.
But digestion is not the only nutritional service provided. The microbiome also makes vitamins, notably B2, B12 and folic acid. It is, moreover, capable of adjusting its output to its host’s needs and diet.
Microbiologists have also found that these so called bugs are making molecules that help regulate the activities of human cells.

Having looked at what a microbiome is and the benefits that humans derive let us look at the harm that a disrupted microbiome can cause. A disrupted microbiome has been associated with a lengthening list of problems: obesity and its opposite, malnutrition; diabetes (both type-1 and type-2); atherosclerosis; asthma and eczema; liver disease; numerous diseases of the intestines, including bowel cancer; and autism.

It also suggests a whole new avenue for treatment. If an upset microbiome causes illness, settling it down might effect a cure.

Yogurt companies and health-food fanatics have been banging this drum for years. And in the case of at least one malady, irritable-bowel syndrome, they are right. So-called probiotics, a mixture of about half a dozen bacterial species found in yogurt, do act to calm this condition.

Many diseases in which the microbiome has a role seem to run in families. In some, such as heart disease, that is partly explained by known human genes. In a lot, though, most notably autism, the genetic link is obscure.

This may be because geneticists have been looking at the wrong set of genes – the 23,000 human genes rather than the 3M non-human genes in the microbiome, for those 3M are still inherited. 

Turning thinking inside out in this way is yielding new insights into seemingly intractable medical problems, and there is a good chance cures will follow.
I think the essence of this relationship can be summarized thus: It is as if the microbes are saying,

You can love us you can hate us but you cannot ignore us!!!!!


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