Monday, April 22, 2013

Amish Poopsicles

Mother Jones has a good layperson's article on the role of gut bacteria in weight loss and healthy living. More than just human health here, human existence when it comes to the gut.

I'm rather pleased that I was born and raised when and where I was. Lots and lots of dirt and germs for me to be exposed to from birth onwards. Being raised in the country, or what passed for it, I never had the icky reflex when it came to Nature. And, although I have a sweet tooth, I've never liked soft drinks and have will always eat my vegetables. ( I actually don't consider dinner dinner unless there's a vegetable dish or two). I've inadvertently been keeping my gut bacteria happy, for the most part. No wonder I enjoy such good health.

A couple of things of note that caught my eye in the article. This quote here:
"If our microbiota plays a role in keeping us healthy, then how about attacking disease by treating the microbiota? After all, our community of microbes is quite plastic. New members can arrive and take up residence. Old members can get flushed out. Member ratios can shift. The human genome, meanwhile, is comparatively stiff and unresponsive".
"The human genome is comparatively stiff and unresponsive". Yup. Gonna really need the rest of the world to make that body properly. Those fundamentalist gene-centric keep forgetting that.

And "fecoprospecting", for another. There's a research effort to go outside the developed world to collect gut bacteria before our processed foods diet renders some strains extinct. So, they fan to rural Africa and Asia, the Amazon, and other areas where traditional foods are still eaten.

In some cases, doctors will, for people with very unhealthy digestive systems, perform a fecal transplant from a healthy donor. I know what you are visualizing, shoving poop up someone's butt, but instead they dilute the feces in saline solution and run a tube down your nose and esophagus and stomach to deliver it to the small intestine. I would almost prefer the butt entry.

But it makes me wonder if some future medicine show on the TV will have something like:

Doctor: "Well, we are all done here. And now, nurse, Mr. Henderson is ready for his fecal engraftment".
Nurse:   "We have several poopsicles thawed out, Doctor".
Doctor: "Excellent. What flavor poopsicle would you like, Mr. Henderson?"
Mr. Henderson: "Amish, I think".

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