Just in the past ten years (a short time in the progression in the biological sciences), a new understanding has arisen of the vital role played by the microbial population in and on our bodies. A new book called 10% Human by Alanna Cole explains this new outlook in very understandable terms. She picked the title of the book to emphasize that for every one of the cells in the average human body, there are approximately nine microbial cells in and on us. There are one hundred trillion microbes in our digestive tract and millions more on the skin. She tells us that there are around 4,000 different species, mostly of bacteria, that have been identified in the human intestinal tract. These microbes are referred to collectively as your microbiota. The amount of them definitely adds up over time; she tells us that over the course of a human lifetime, you will have had to live in you the equivalent of five African elephants weight of bacteria. You can find out which ones are living inside of you at any given time. The American Gut Project, under the auspices of Professor Rob Knight at the University of Colorado in Boulder will, at no cost to you, sequence samples of the bacteria in a stool sample you send to his laboratory, along with a lot of information about hour health.
The Human Microbiome Project, run by the United States National Institutes for Health, has revealed that we depend on our microbes for health and happiness. Although the human genome is comprised of just fewer than 21,000 genes, the amount of genetic information in our gut is greatly increased by all of the genetic material of these bacteria. For example, although we lack the gene to make the protein that makes vitamin B12, a bacterial species called Klebsiella does it for us.
Thanks to antibiotics many infectious diseases were eradicated in the twentieth century, giving people across the world a longer life span. But now things have changed. Many of the diseases that now impair people’s health and quality of life are autoimmune diseases. Dr. Cole tells us that nearly 10% of the population in the developed world is now affected by an autoimmune disease. These include Type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, psoriasis, and enough others to total about one hundred autoimmune diseases. Dr. Cole explains that even mental health problems such as autism and depression may possibly be related to problems with our gut bacteria. She explains the physiology of leaky gut syndrome is caused by a protein whose discovered called zonulin that loosens the coupling between the cells of the intestinal wall and makes it permeable to what should not be passing through.
Calories in-calories out is what everyone thought was what mattered in weight control. However, Dr. Cole explains the role of our intestinal bacteria in extracting additional calories from what we have eaten. When short-chain fatty acids bind with G-protein-coupled Receptor 43 on our fiber-loving bacteria, it signals the bacteria not to attack us. When this same receptor on fat cells is bound with a short-chair fatty acid, it forces the fat cell to divide, the healthy way to store energy, rather than grow larger as it does in people who develop obesity. If these small bits of information, doesn’t make much sense to you, then you’ll have to read the book to get more information about these items and much more than the book has to offer.
If you want to go beyond the book and explore how these issues may be affecting you personally, then help is available through Dr. Gourdine and the Functional Medicine Center for Personalized Care in Hackensack, New Jersey. Dr. Gourdine will be able to guide you through the steps of getting your microbial flora assessed and then advising you to make changes with nutrition and nutraceuticals.
Call our intake specialists today for a FREE consultation with Fx Med Centers at 855.MYFXMED (693.9633)!
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