The American Gut Project
The first thought that usually crosses our minds when we think of microbes is germs and diseases. Scientists have always known about the presence of microbes in and on the exposed surfaces of our bodies. For a long time the microbes were thought to be passive inhabitants. That idea was replaced by the importance of the microbes in the gastrointestinal tract aiding in digestion as well as producing vitamins for us. Laymen know these microbes are the “good bacteria” and in term of Microbiology, they are called “normal flora”. Of late the press is abuzz with research articles showing that the normal flora contribute much more than just vitamins, that they are capable of regulating behavior and even the thought process of their hosts!
It is interesting to note that the food we eat, our life-style, etc. influence the microbes in our gut. Recent studies have shown that these microbes can vary considerably in a population. In order to understand how gut microbes influence our health and well-being, “The American Gut Project” was initiated a few years back.
For this week’s discussion, go to the website Human Food Project[img> and read about the project. Under the “Recent post” link on this page, you will find many articles posted by scientists as well as people who are participating in the project. Browse the articles and pick one that you find interesting. Read the article and briefly summarize its main points. Post the link to the article so that others can read it. Do you agree with the conclusions of the paper? Or are there points you are skeptical about? (You are not being asked to be a part of the project or donate specimens).