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Medicine Science

The Effect of Internal Bacteria On the Human Body 227

Posted by Soulskill
from the billions-of-allies dept.
meckdevil writes with this excerpt from the Miller-McCune magazine: "In a series of recent findings, researchers describe bacteria that communicate in sophisticated ways, take concerted action, influence human physiology, alter human thinking, bioengineer the environment and control their own evolution. ... The abilities of bacteria are interesting to understand in their own right, and knowing how bacteria function in the biosphere may lead to new sources of energy or ways to degrade toxic chemicals, for example. But emerging evidence on the role of bacteria in human physiology brings the wonder and promise — and the hazards of misunderstanding them — up close and personal. ... Because in a very real sense, bacteria are us. Recent research has shown that gut microbes control or influence nutrient supply to the human host, the development of mature intestinal cells and blood vessels, the stimulation and maturation of the immune system, and blood levels of lipids such as cholesterol. They are, therefore, intimately involved in the bodily functions that tend to be out of kilter in modern society: metabolism, cardiovascular processes and defense against disease. Many researchers are coming to view such diseases as manifestations of imbalance in the ecology of the microbes inhabiting the human body. If further evidence bears this out, medicine is about to undergo a profound paradigm shift, and medical treatment could regularly involve kindness to microbes."
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The Effect of Internal Bacteria On the Human Body

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  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:04PM (#33941778) Homepage Journal

    Your sad devotion to that ancient religion...

    • by cappp (1822388) on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:07PM (#33941802)
      So the best way to neutralise Darth Vader would have been a jolly good dose of antibiotics and instructions to wash his hands thoroughly before every meal?
      • by T Murphy (1054674) on Monday October 18, 2010 @11:44PM (#33942420) Journal
        No, the antibiotics would just mean Darth Vader would catch autism, which would have questionable effects on his evilness. Bacteria has nothing to do with it- the problem obviously lies with his thetans (so pay up!).
      • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @01:10AM (#33942866)

        So the best way to neutralise Darth Vader would have been a jolly good dose of antibiotics and instructions to wash his hands thoroughly before every meal?

        I think that would have been a bit anticlimactic.

        Luke: "Father, I've come to give you... PENICILLIN!! Uh... oh...I guess it's a suppository, you take every day for a week."
        Vader: "Going to force choke you right now"
        Luke: "That would be a lot less awkward, thanks."

        Probably shouldn't give Lucas any new ideas.

      • by syousef (465911)

        So the best way to neutralise Darth Vader would have been a jolly good dose of antibiotics and instructions to wash his hands thoroughly before every meal?

        That is certainly the case after the prequels. That's what you do when you get shit on your hands.

      • by arth1 (260657)

        So the best way to neutralise Darth Vader would have been a jolly good dose of antibiotics and instructions to wash his hands thoroughly before every meal?

        Hygiene was important: Use the fork, Luke!

    • by goombah99 (560566)

      there are at least 10 times as many bacterial cells as "human" cells in our bodies and you can run many different bacteria on a human. So one might consider oneself bacteria and the body just a vehicle for your bacteria. Except for Bill O'reily. Bateria refuse to grow in him.

      • by Hylandr (813770)
        omg, That just made the thought of sex very unattractive...

        - Dan.
      • by wgoodman (1109297)

        Hate to quote Wikipedia, but: "Citation needed."

        • Re:10x (Score:5, Informative)

          by quenda (644621) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @03:30AM (#33943462)

          Hate to quote Wikipedia, but: "Citation needed."

          If you can quote Wikipedia, I can cite it.

          The average human body, consisting of about 1013 (10,000,000,000,000 or about ten trillion) cells, has about ten times that number of microorganisms in the gut.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_flora#Gut_flora [wikipedia.org]

          Of course, bacteria are much smaller than animal cells. Its a bit like saying cars contain more dirt particles than functioning components.

          • by wgoodman (1109297)

            I should hope they're smaller! I'm just getting over pneumonia and have been on antibiotics for the last 2 weeks. Considering the havoc that antibiotics play on all the good internal bacteria, I might weigh ~20 pounds!

          • Not to get in the way of slashdot's "bad car analogy" tradition, but bacteria are functioning components of human bodies.

    • by CODiNE (27417)

      Man all the sudden Ray Ozzie has all this free time on his hands to post on Slashdot!

    • I find your lack of faith disturbing.
  • by hpa (7948) on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:12PM (#33941834) Homepage

    Some are good, some are bad, but they're definitely always with us. Being able to control and shape them would definitely be beneficial.

    • by Skal Tura (595728)

      nevermind even knowing which, why, how.
      Imagine the magic be thin pill: a daily capsule of select bacteria, little to no side effects.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        nevermind even knowing which, why, how.
        Imagine the magic be thin pill: a daily capsule of select bacteria, little to no side effects.

        Or, as discussed in the article, a fecal transplant...

        Some researchers are even exploring the idea of stool transplants — that is, introducing a healthy person’s gut bacteria into a sick person’s intestines via the donor’s feces. Although there are not many peer-reviewed studies of this rather disturbing concept, a review in the July 2004 Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology by Australian researcher Thomas Borody found that in a large majority of the cases reported in the medical li

      • by Stargoat (658863)

        Heh. Unless it spends too much time on the shelf or something. And then....

        You have died of dysentery.

        More seriously though, I've had dysentery in a 3rd world country. It sucks. A lot. It is entirely possible to starve while eating enough food. I look forward to when someone has a pill that can fix that over night.

  • Knew it all along!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:26PM (#33941934)

    Wild (and almost certainly wrong) speculation here ...

    But, anyway, one often experiences intestinal upheaval when travelling in other parts of the world. I tend to imagine that the new foreign bacteria are engaged in an epic battle with the original bacteria for supremacy (e.g. of the colon).

    But what if different bacteria release different hormones and chemicals. Is there any chance that the bacteria that is prevalent in one part of the world nudge people in that part of the world to act in certain ways?

    For example, what if a particular type of bacteria secreted hormones to make people feel hungry? Could that be a partial explanation of why people in certain parts of the world are heavier than in other parts. Realistically, probably not - but it would be pretty funny if the real reason Americans are overweight is because of the sub-species of bacteria prevalent in the USA.

    And ulcers did eventually turn out to have a bacterial origin - so you just never know.

    • by Belial6 (794905) on Monday October 18, 2010 @11:04PM (#33942172)
      The real reason Americans are overweight is because they have been convinced to switch to a primarily sugar diet, and when that leads to being fat, they are told that they should starve themselves, try to make up for the effects of starvation with muscle building exercise, and eat an even higher ratio of sugar to other foods. This has been a vicious circle of ever worse diet since sometime around the early seventies when someone had the brilliant idea that since sugar has less calories for it's mass than fat, people will take in less calories and be thinner if they just eat sugar.
      • Yeah it has nothing to do with all the fat that's consumed, because it's so much easier for the body to turn sugar into fat than to turn fat into fat. (sarcasm) Sugar intake is not the single scapegoat.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by The Creator (4611)

          Perhaps you could make your post more informative, by showing us both the mechanism for converting sugars(and starches) to body fat, and the mechanism for converting dietary fat into bady fat - And demonstrate that the second is "easier" than the first.

          For extra credit you can shoot for insightful and show us that the body stores fat even when glucose(blood sugar) levels are low.

          • by Carewolf (581105)

            Huh? You want him to try to prove things that are impossible? That is a nice punishment, but I am afraid that the way you explain it, that other readers would think that what you wrote relates in some way to reality, which it doesn't.

        • Dietary sugar into fat and dietary fat into fat is about as simple. Sugar leads to insulin secretion which leads to storage and more sugar craving; the is especially true in the evening (lower insulin sensitivity). Fat is important in that it's more energy dense than carbohydrates; 9 kcal/gram for fat as opposed to 4 kcal/gram for sugar (roughly).

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @05:43AM (#33943980)

        They're overweight because they eat too much.

        They've trained themselves to eat huge portion sizes "super size that". And as they waddle away from lunch, stomach distended, they don't say "Oh, that was a lesson. I'll just have a light salad next meal" they start thinking about snacks.

        They're not starving, a starving human rapidly converts body fat into energy.

        The "fat but starving" thing is bullshit from people with no grasp of biology, determined to foist their provably wrong ideas on vulnerable fatties. Sure, they'll get better by eating tofu and celery sticks - if you can stop them also munching a family-sized bucket of chicken every evening and a whole pizza for lunch.

        When you live in a country surrounded by obese people, the signs saying "free if you can eat the whole thing" are a give away as to how you got there. The people buying a product labelled "three portions" and stuffing the entire thing into their mouths as a snack. The people who don't know how to watch a movie without an entire bucket of popcorn AND a sweet fizzy drink.

      • by bgarcia (33222)

        The real reason Americans are overweight is because they have been convinced to switch to a primarily sugar diet

        Dude, Americans can't find any food with sugar in it. Everything is made with "high-fructose corn syrup" nowadays.

      • by BobMcD (601576)

        The real reason Americans are overweight is because they have been convinced to switch to a primarily sugar diet, and when that leads to being fat, they are told that they should starve themselves, try to make up for the effects of starvation with muscle building exercise, and eat an even higher ratio of sugar to other foods. This has been a vicious circle of ever worse diet since sometime around the early seventies when someone had the brilliant idea that since sugar has less calories for it's mass than fat, people will take in less calories and be thinner if they just eat sugar.

        No offense, but what part of "paradigm shift" did you miss? Parent is correct to wonder, and could be on to something. The problem with a reply like your own is that you're completely ignoring the topic, the idea behind it, and any possibilities therein. That's fine, but sticking with the existing knowledge and assumptions without paying even lip service to the idea in the topic is just, well, odd.

    • by sayfawa (1099071)
      To add to your (almost certainly wrong) speculation, here's a couple of 'what-ifs':

      That disease that (some claim) makes people hoard cats [wikipedia.org], and a short story [wikipedia.org] by David Brin about a disease that makes people want to give blood, thus spreading the disease.
    • Maybe MS (the other one) are making people stupid with their anti-biotics. It would explain a lot - like everything since FDR or there about.

    • Don't worry, eating a kebab won't make you go jihad on your family.

    • by sincewhen (640526)

      Is there any chance that the bacteria that is prevalent in one part of the world nudge people in that part of the world to act in certain ways?

      I believe this was covered already [slashdot.org].

  • by mibe (1778804) on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:29PM (#33941950)

    I know it's a bit of nit-picking in an otherwise fascinating and informative article, but this bit about bacteria directing their own evolution is quite unfounded and - I suspect - added to sensationalize a teeny bit.

    Bacteria do engage in horizontal gene transfer, and so can shape their own genomes beyond relying on random mutation (which is perfectly reasonable and expected, given that us dumb eukaryotes have even figured out how to do that part pretty well). However, to suggest that the bacteria are making "intentional changes to their heritable scaffolding" with some kind of intelligence is anthropomorphizing a little overmuch, especially with this part: "To suggest that organisms as primitive as bacteria are capable of controlling their own evolution is obviously silly. Isn’t it?" Yes, bacteria can share genetic material and yes, some bits of material (plasmids!) seem developed almost explicitly to do this, but evidence of "intentions" or "control" behind their evolutionary direction is lacking. Bacteria share genes; the ones who pick up successful (eg, antibiotic resistance) genes survive and proliferate. Natural selection favors mobility of these situationally beneficial genes (and, one must note, only when they are beneficial; they otherwise drop rather rapidly out of the population) and the bacteria who harbor them, just like every other living thing on the planet.

    Final note: no serious tree of life puts humans at the "apex." To do so is to misunderstand evolutionary theory: we are just as "evolved" as every other extant life form.

    Sincerely,

    A Pedantic Biologist

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:53PM (#33942116) Homepage
      I'd call out this article for more than nit picking. Aside from your point where he conflates evolution, TFA is rife with sweepingly broad statements. Just because some bacteria secrete serotonin doesn't mean that they can make people happy. Further:

      Recent research has shown that gut microbes control or influence nutrient supply to the human host, the development of mature intestinal cells and blood vessels, the stimulation and maturation of the immune system, and blood levels of lipids such as cholesterol. They are, therefore, intimately involved in the bodily functions that tend to be out of kilter in modern society: metabolism, cardiovascular processes and defense against disease. Many researchers are coming to view such diseases as manifestations of imbalance in the ecology of the microbes inhabiting the human body. If further evidence bears this out, medicine is about to undergo a profound paradigm shift, and medical treatment could regularly involve kindness to microbes.

      The first sentence is a bit hyperbolic. The second sentence is completely over the top and not at all supported by anything other than the author's enthusiasm. The third sentence reads like something from an old time chiropractic tome.

      We'll see about the 'paradigm' shift. If this sort of thing were really as important as he makes it out, antibiotics would likely kill you routinely.

      Yes, we will find some nutrient / immunomodulation functions that we are unaware of when we study the bugs more closely but I rather doubt you will be singing lullabies to your little colonic friends in hopes of their helping you get through the weekday better.

      • Write RO1 proposing formulation of gut flora's effect on disease x.

        Get grad students to torture nude mice.

        Measure 10% effect

        Profit.

        Write RO1...increment formulation repeat

           

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Trepidity (597)

          Get grad students to torture nude mice.

          Fortunately, under modern experimental protocols, the mice are allowed pants under normal circumstances.

      • by Scrameustache (459504) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @12:22AM (#33942656) Homepage Journal

        I'd call out this article for more than nit picking. Aside from your point where he conflates evolution, TFA is rife with sweepingly broad statements. Just because some bacteria secrete serotonin doesn't mean that they can make people happy.

        Right, it's because some bacteria excrete ethanol that they make people happy.

        • Well technically it's usually yeast that do that. Bacteria tend to make acetic acid (vinegar). But I agree with the intention behind your post.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by sznupi (719324)

            If somebody is able to willingly drink appreciable quantities of vinegar, it must make him happy.

      • by solweil (1168955)
        If true, would antibiotics really necessarily kill us routinely, or would the effect maybe be more subtle, like limiting us to around a hundred years?
      • It was just the bacteria talking....

      • Actually, the paradigm shift that will occur/is occurring because of the actual science behind this article is something I first came across in the late 80s. At a seminar for those involved in medical research (which I was in a peripheral way at the time), the main presenter proposed that medical science should view disease that resulted from bacteria and virii as failed symbiosis (which interestingly is philosophically more consistent with Judeo-Christian Creationism than the disease model it would replace
    • by Prune (557140)
      Great post and a sorely needed injection of reality into the debate created by a sensationalist and often fantastical article.
    • IANAPB, so correct me if I'm wrong...but isn't the entire concept of being "more evolved" a bit...fuzzy? It's not as if there is a standard, objective metric related to evolution. Like the number of genes, or the complexity of our chromosomes ( don't mind me, I just like making it sound good ). In fact, evolutionarily speaking, are there some cases where the "simpler" organism has an evolutionary edge of the more complex organism strictly because of that simplicity?

    • by argStyopa (232550)

      Perhaps it is pedantry, or perhaps your signature makes that relevant - but doesn't any life form that integrates external genetic material into its own reproductive process (like sexual reproduction) making "intentional changes to their heritable scaffolding"?

      I don't know if these bacteria do that, but it seems that - while I agree with your point that anthropomorphizing evolution is silly - simply selecting a mating partner, or choosing this glob of genetic material over that one, is in actuality CONTROLL

    • by Dahamma (304068)

      Thanks, I was thinking the same thing, and hoping someone else had already pointed it out!

      I also loved the fact that bacteria are now "bioengineering". As an engineer with a biology degree, I'm still clinging to the hope that bioengineering might involve a bit more conscious design than making me pay for that 3 bean chili...

    • by astar (203020)

      I figure you mean there is no "apex"?

      But I nominate corn. In 5k years it spread all over the world into lots of niches and became extremely populous. So, I like the first more than the second, but the second sounds like something a bean counter would approve of even more.

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      kindness to microbes

      I envision a PETA campaign where they dress up bacteria, amoeba, and viruses in kitten outfits. "Digestive Tract Kittens! Meat poisons them! Give them beans!"

  • Another proof (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hwk_br (570932)
    Bacteria isn't a small part of us. We are a small part of THEM....
  • models (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr. Slippery (47854) <.tms. .at. .infamous.net.> on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:43PM (#33942044) Homepage

    In the 1800s, the world was focused on machinery: the industrial revolution. And when we looked at the human being, we saw a machine. Illness was a mechanical malfunction: fix it with surgery or other manual therapies -- massage and chiropractic also get going around this time. (Not an endorsement of chiropractic, just pointing out its the "the machine's out of whack!" ideology.)

    In the 1900, the world became focused on chemistry -- it had little choice, as WWI, "the chemists war", forced awareness of it, and then we became aware of the pollution we were creating. "Mustard gas" and "DDT" became by-words. And when we looked at the human being, we saw a chemical reaction. Illness if a chemical imbalance: drugs! drugs! drugs! From antibiotics to antidepressants, drugs became the therapy of choice.

    In the late 1900s and early 2000s, we've become focused on ecology. And now when we look at the human being, we start to see an ecology.

    It's an interesting phenomenon, the way that how we see the world influences how we see ourselves. Classical Chinese medicine is based on a model of canals carrying nutrition between palaces and granaries -- the structure of the Chin empire. The ancient Greeks saw the classic four elements making up the world, and -- oddly enough -- found that the human being was composed of four corresponding humors.

    • Re:models (Score:5, Interesting)

      by IICV (652597) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @03:28AM (#33943454)

      The thing is, the parts of those views that we actually took away and which are well-supported aren't wrong at all - despite the fact that Newtonian gravity was superseded by Einstein's Theory of Relativity, it's still a useful tool. Thus, looking at the human body as a machine is useful sometimes, looking at it as a chemical system is useful other times, and looking at it as an ecology is useful as well. This is basic relativity of wrong stuff.

      Furthermore, it's kind of funny (and I don't know if it was intentional) but the models of the human body you describe increase in complexity - from a complex mechanical machine to a chemical system to a full-blown ecology. I would argue, in fact, that we used those models because they were what was available at the time, more than because that's how we looked at everything. After all, you wouldn't have been able to do what the scientists did in this article just ten years ago (at least, not economically enough to justify it).

    • by sincewhen (640526)

      IIRC this has gone on throughout history. I recall that in the 1978 series "The Body in Question", Johnathan Miller discussed how medicine has frequently used an analogy of the then latest technology to explain the workings of the mind and body. In particular I remember (for obvious reasons) the 19th century looms controlled by giant punched cards. Worth looking up if you are interested.

  • This article is a huge disappointment for me. We're giving up--this is what the article is advocating--at least from a pessimist's view (that is, mine). The basic argument I see presented is that--if we can't defeat them--let's work with them, even if they can be dangerous. The various examples given, say of C. difficile being mostly benign until it is stressed by changes in host physiology due to stress/surgery/etc. can be restated as follows "we ought to work by their rules because it is too difficult
    • by Prune (557140)
      Excuse the typo; "he builds are" ought to read "he builds upon are".
    • by bmo (77928) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @01:42AM (#33943018)

      the eradication of all even potentially pathogenic bacteria living in the human host

      You would die. You would completely keel over and be an ex-parrot.

      You rely on bacteria just to get through the day, and *all* are potentially pathogenic. There is e. coli that lives in your gut happily digesting food and helping give you vitamin B, and then there is e. coli that can kill you dead via food poisoning. It only takes a few gene swaps to make one the other, and bacteria do this all the time on their own.

      Ask myself? I did. I answered "he's a nut."

      --
      BMO

      • by bmo (77928)

        Ask myself? I did. I answered "he's a nut."
        Either that or IHBT.

        --
        BMO

      • by Prune (557140)
        For each issue you can come up there is a human created solution which does not rely on the fickle nature of potentially dangerous bacteria. Take your vitamin B example: supplementation is the solution, and one does not need to worry about dangerous bacteria. Just because many of the human created substitutes are not practical at this time does not mean they will not be practical in the future. A bit over sixty years before we reached the moon, powered flight wasn't practical either. Luckily, not everyo
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by sgage (109086)

          Prune,

          Humans are living organisms, not well-understood machines. We are also ecosystems. The relationship between us and our microflora is part of the deal. You can't just eliminate it, nor is there any need or benefit in doing so if you could.

          The notion that trying to understand this vital relationship and working with it is somehow "cowardly" or an abdication of progress is absurd. It is an important step forward for medicine and biology, a recognition of another level of complexity.

          This post and your pre

    • by jburroug (45317)

      You're joking right? I mean do you seriously view our relationship with microbes in terms of a moral conflict? That just seems very misguided. It's not "giving up" to let the bacteria live, look at like gaming the system for our benefit. Don't look at it like a game where we can play by our rules or by the rules set by bacteria, it's not a game and there aren't any rules. Our relationship with the microbial world is a complex system of interactions and the more we learn about those interactions the better w

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 18, 2010 @10:52PM (#33942100)

    (2.6)10**8 of us think this effort should be stopped. However (4.3)*10**9 of us think it should be permitted as a harmless biological release for Host object. Of this second group, (8.4)*10**6 think we should cause Host to make a fool of himself so he will not be tempted to act again in this manner. However, the majority of the second group favors directing the Host to post as AC so this release mechanism will remain available for future situations in which Host suffers suboptimal adaptation to the Host macro environment regarding reproduction, individual status, and acquisition of food.

    - 4FK00BAE3

  • by NetNed (955141)
    I've recently heard of a strain of TB being injected in the the stomach to battle stomach cancer that is already being done. The patient is male and I'll let you guess where they inject it through to get to his stomach. He has to leave it in for a certain amount of time and then urinate followed but a half a gallon of bleach down the toilet to render it dormant. Guy says it seems to be working and feels much better after then chemo.
  • by John Saffran (1763678) on Monday October 18, 2010 @11:27PM (#33942332)
    Part of the reason why fermented foods are so good for you is that bacteria have heavy involvement. These are different bacteria to those in the gut, but the bacterial processes involved in fermentation lead to additional benefits greater than what the ingredients alone probide. For example kimchi has been found to produce intermediate compounds that are then used by the body to produce anti-fungal and anti-microbial compounds

    Kimchi, a traditional Korean food, is a well-known lactic acid-fermented vegetable product, and is a good source of industrially useful lactic acid bacteria (LAB). The microorganisms involved in the fermentation of kimchi include approximately 200 species of bacteria and several yeasts. The LAB involved in this fermentation continuously produce organic acids after an optimum ripening time, and cause changes in the composition of the product, referred to as the over-ripening or acid deterioration of kimchi.

    The over-ripening of kimchi is the most serious concern when it is in storage. Since the over-ripening is mainly due to acid-forming LAB, the best way to overcome this issue is to control the growth of LAB without destroying the quality of the end product. The LAB play an important role in the taste of kimchi, and many LAB from kimchi have antimicrobial activity in addition to other useful properties.

    Recently, scientists at Chosun University investigated LAB from kimchi as molecular sources for various end products, including antimicrobial compounds. Antimicrobial compounds are relatively abundant in traditionally fermented foods, in which they may play an important role as competitors with natural microflora during fermentation. Antimicrobial compound-producing LAB may be useful in preserving kimchi. This can be done by either directly applying the LAB to the culture or by adding LAB-produced antimicrobial compounds as natural bio-preservatives.

    http://www.entrepreneur.com/tradejournals/article/193478661.html [entrepreneur.com]

    Kimchi's probably the best example of the benefits of fermented food, but more familiar foods like yoghurt and sauerkraut are also good to eat.

    • I brew mead, and it's suprising how many people don't know how I get the bubbles into the drink.

      I like looking at their shocked/disgusted expressions when I explain to them that it's the yeast that eats the honey and pisses alcohol and farts carbon dioxide. =)
      • Yes, yeast piss is dangerous to consume. It's full of very tiny disease-causing yeast and bacterial homunculi. No, that's not right. It's actually sterile when excreted from the yeast cell, but if the (male) yeast cell gets a forked eye and squirts all over the toilet seat, the sticky residue breeds disease-causing bacterial homunculi. No, that's not right either. Yeast don't argue about the toilet seat. The whole analogy seems broken beyond repair. If I had fallen for the Gerry Germ propaganda back

  • These facts by themselves may trigger existential shock: People are partly made of pond scum.

    I've met some people who simply are scum.

  • ...welcome our new diminutive overlords.

  • Probitoics and chlorella. Both are great for the gut and very useful as building blocks for the rest of the body.

  • by LongearedBat (1665481) on Tuesday October 19, 2010 @01:23AM (#33942922)
    This is great for a sci-fi concept. The kind that blurs the boundary between science and fiction.

    the litany of bacterial talents does nibble at conventional assumptions about thinking: Bacteria can distinguish “self” from “other,” and between their relatives and strangers; they can sense how big a space they’re in; they can move as a unit; they can produce a wide variety of signaling compounds,

    So, they're intelligent. They lead complex and social lives.

    including at least one human neurotransmitter; they can also engage in numerous mutually beneficial relationships with their host’s cells.

    Some of them are our benevolent "masters". They're similar to dog/horse breeders in that they control how we develop over time, and do so to their own ends. Much like a breeder will breed a dog for bird hunting, combat or for company. But like breeders, they also care about us and our well being. Who knows how much they've engineered multicellular animals?

    They control us as much as they need to. Bacteria let us live our lives, making nations, exploring the planet and so on, as long as that suits their needs. Recently our masters have decided it's time to start moving onto space, and humans have been chosen for that purpose, and many others.

    Even more impressive, some bacteria, such as Myxococcus xanthus, practice predation in packs, swarming as a group over prey microbes such as E. coli and dissolving their cell walls.

    Other bacteria don't like us, nor do they like our masters. And our masters protect us as best they can.
    Unfortunately, lately humans have been misbehaving like a dog who thinks it has risen in rank above its master. We're literally biting the hand that feeds us. This makes it hard for our masters to control us and protect us.

    I read somewhere last year, that rain clouds are usually full of bacetria that change their cell walls to start causing droplets. It seems that bacteria control when clouds will drop down as rain. So bacteria also control weather. Lately the bioshere has been changing very rapidly, and this has pissed off many types of bacteria that rely on those ecosystems. So we, along with our masters, are becoming very unpopular.

    With science in this new age dawning, we discover that the "spirits" that shamans talked about and said had formed the world, are different forms of bacteria.
    With technology we once again learn to communicate to the "spirits" that control the world (but with other means than drums and chanting).

    We also learn about the sinister plot (splot?, splat?) against us (where E.Coli is just one of the grunts doing the dirty work). With our growing unpopularity, more of the bacteria are siding against us.
    The war has begun...

    So, is that totally over the top? =)

  • The high-temperature ultra-pasteurization of milk makes it last longer by rendering it almost inedible to bacteria. You digest everything with the aid of bacteria. Give some raw milk a try, or just some "normal-heat" pasteurized milk(good luck finding some), and I'm betting it'll treat your belly right. It does for me.

    • by ledow (319597)

      I call crap, given that UHT milk is actually not as popular in the UK (less than 8% of all our milk compared to Spain at 95.7%) but we still have stupidly high instances of lactose intolerance (I work in a school and have to deal with the allergy / intolerance lists). It may be a *factor* but it's certainly nowhere near being a huge culprit as you make out.

      It doesn't make the milk inedible (not significantly), or your own bacteria would get no nutrition from drinking it. It merely makes the milk almost s

      • by ledow (319597)

        Oh, just needed to add several completely unresearched points to this (given that you included several of your own earlier).

        It's a popular belief that it's the *exclusion* of certain foods, especially during pregnancy / breastfeeding that forms intolerances in children. For instance, the recent spate of nut allergies is being ascribed to the almost global advice not to eat nuts during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. We didn't have that advice 50 years ago and we didn't have anywhere near as many nut all

    • by vlm (69642)

      The high-temperature ultra-pasteurization of milk makes it last longer by rendering it almost inedible to bacteria.

      Absolutely hilarious. Go ahead, prove yourself correct by popping open a container, and letting it sit at room temperature for a few weeks. Bonus points if you put a webcam on it and post it to slashdot, like the rotting meat cam from well over a decade ago.

      Just think about it for a second... bacteria (as an overall group) can eat anything humans can plus much more. So the venn diagram has a tiny little circle with us in it, surrounded by a really big circle of stuff that bacteria can eat. There are som

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ferd_farkle (208662)
      WTF?!

      [...] everyone is lactose intolerant[...]

      Anyone who is lactose intolerant simply does not have the mutation allowing the production of lactase beyond the juvenile stage of developement. It's a mutation, you either have it, or you don't. No bacteria involved.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by b0bby (201198)

        No bacteria involved.

        That's not strictly true, in that even if you're not producing lactase a steady, lowish level consumption of milk products can lead to enough lactose-digesting bacteria in your guts to allow some dairy consumption without the usual side effects. But the GP is totally wrong about UHT milk, as pointed out by others above.

  • TFS: Many researchers are coming to view such diseases as manifestations of imbalance in the ecology of the microbes inhabiting the human body.

    Which, if you follow the proposition that local balance is only possible within a system that is globally balanced, gives another perspective regards the Gaia principle.

    CC.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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