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Nature_and_Environment.123

Bacteria - the essential form of life

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{Nature_and_Environment.123.9}: Jay Hoffman {resist} Tue, 17 Dec 2019 17:23:15 CST (86 lines)

Good bacteria (essential to human life)- example one (gut bacteria)

About 100 trillion bacteria, both good and bad, live inside your
digestive system. Science has begun to look more closely at how this
enormous system of organisms influences—and even improves—health
conditions, from heart disease to arthritis to cancer.

This is a new frontier of medicine, and many are looking at the gut
microbiota as an additional organ system," says Dr. Elizabeth Hohmann
of the infectious diseases division at Harvard-affiliated
Massachusetts General Hospital. "It's most important to the health of
our gastrointestinal system, but may have even more far-reaching
effects on our well-being."

The gut microbiota in action

Within those trillions of gut bacteria are about 1,000 different
species, represented by some 5,000 distinct bacterial strains.
Everyone's gut microbiota is unique, but there are certain
combinations and collections of bacteria that are found in healthy
individuals.

Your gut microbiota plays many roles. It metabolizes nutrients from
food and certain medications, serves as a protective barrier against
intestinal infections, and produces vitamin K, which helps make blood-
clotting proteins.

But the gut microbiota may do much more. Most research has involved
only preliminary animal studies; however, initial findings suggest gut
bacteria may be the key to preventing or treating some diseases.

Here's a summary of the latest findings:

Cancer. A study published online April 13, 2016, by PLOS ONE offered
some evidence that a particular strain of the bacterium Lactobacillus
johnsonii may protect against some cancers. Scientists gave mice a
mutation that is associated with a high incidence of leukemia,
lymphomas, and other cancers. When treated with the bacterium, the
mice developed lymphoma only half as quickly compared with a control
group.

Heart disease. Research in the February 2016 Journal of Applied
Microbiology found the bacterial strain Akkermansia muciniphila could
prevent inflammation that contributes to fatty plaque buildup in
arteries. Scientists believe the effect was due to a protein that
blocks communication between cells in the inner lining of the gut. As
a result, fewer toxins from a poor diet could pass into the
bloodstream, which in turn reduced inflammation.

Immune system. In a study published online Nov. 5, 2015, by Science,
University of Chicago researchers found that introducing a particular
bacterial strain into the digestive tracts of mice with melanoma
prompted their immune systems to attack tumor cells. The gains were
comparable to treatment with anti-cancer drugs called checkpoint
inhibitors.

Says Dr. Hohmann. "Anything that can feed good bacteria and keep them
plentiful is good for overall health. When the gut is happy, you are
happy." Here are some suggestions on how to do that:

Do not overuse antibiotics. Again, overusing antibiotics can deplete
good gut bacteria. "In general, older people are more susceptible to
infections and have more medical problems, so they are more likely to
be prescribed antibiotics," says Dr. Hohmann. "These are important
lifesaving drugs, but they need to be used judiciously."

Don't be so quick to ask for antibiotics to fight viral ailments like
the common cold, she says. Also, if your doctor prescribes one, ask if
you really need it, what is the shortest treatment course, and whether
there are alternative methods.

Eat more fermented foods. Bacteria are living organisms that need to
eat. "A healthy, varied, balanced, high-fiber diet with complex
carbohydrates is good for the bacteria living in your gut and
encourages a diverse ecosystem," says Dr. Hohmann.

Other helpful dietary choices include naturally fermented foods
containing probiotics (live bacteria), such as sauerkraut, pickles,
miso, certain types of yogurt, and kefir (a yogurt-based drink).

People with depressed immune function from late-stage cancer or
chemotherapy should not take probiotics. Also, not all probiotic
preparations are the same, so discuss the options with your doctor
before you take one.
"https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/can-gut-bacteria-
improve-your-health"

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