Western Lifestyle Disturbing Key Bacterial Balance?
2012-09-27 0:00

By JŲrg Blech | Spiegel

Trillions of bacteria living in and on the human body play a vital role in preserving health. But C-section births, antibiotics and excessive hygiene have been disturbing our microbial balance and possibly contributing to intestinal ailments, obesity, allergies and autism.

Deep in the Amazon basin, where traditional hunter-gatherers still live, researchers gave the indigenous population a lesson in biology. They used posters to explain to the inhabitants of the rain forest that a human being is never alone. Invisible, tiny creatures known as bacteria live on and inside our bodies -- and they can be quite useful.


Trillions of bacteria living in and on the human body play a vital role in preserving health. But C-section births, antibiotics and excessive hygiene have been disturbing our microbial balance and possibly contributing to intestinal ailments, obesity, allergies and Autism.


The lesson was part of a project to research the bacteria of the local people. "When we asked them for samples of their feces, the people laughed," said one of the participating biologists, Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, from the University of Puerto Rico. Researchers succeeded in winning their trust, and the inhabitants of 10 huts allowed them to take swab samples, not only from their stool, but also from their hands, feet, noses and mouths.

The search for microbes aims to shed light on the nature of mankindís original bacterial flora. These indigenous test subjects have had almost no contact with outside civilization. Their bacteria are a virtually unadulterated product of evolution. Microorganisms help digest food, supply the body with vitamins, train the immune system and ward off harmful pathogens.

But how do these tiny benefactors fair when their host is exposed to a Western lifestyle? To answer this question, researchers not only took swabs from the traditional people living in the rainforest, but also from people in more highly developed locations in the Amazon basin, in larger settlements, in the Peruvian provincial capital Iquitos, and in Manaus, a Brazilian city with a population of nearly 2 million.

The 200 collected samples are still being analyzed in an American laboratory. But results might indicate that a Western lifestyle is harmful to bacterial colonists. Indeed, the use of antibiotics along with the rising number of cesarean section births, the increasing popularity of small families and excessive hygiene are threatening the microscopic helpers. "We believe these changes (in the microbial diversity) might be behind some of the most common diseases associated with modernity," says Dominguez-Bello.

Similar concerns are shared by Martin Blaser, a professor of microbiology at New York University in Manhattan, who also took part in the expedition to the Amazon region. "Our bacteria are not accidental; we have them for a reason," says Blaser. "Some of these useful guys are disappearing. As a consequence, human physiology is changing and therefore human health."

[...]


Read the full article at: abcnews.go.com






Related Articles
An Immune Disorder at the Root of Autism
Grandin on The Autism Surge
Nearly 200,000 tons of oil and gas from BP oil spill consumed by bacteria
Nanotech Dental Filling Kills Bacteria, Strengthens Teeth
DHS To Release Bacteria In Boston Subway System
Get Dirty to Get Joy- Bacteria in Soil Acts as Antidepressant
Autism Gastro Problems May Be Linked to Gut Bacteria
Bacteria-Busting Coriander
12 dead in Germany as killer cucumber bacteria spreads
34,000-year-old bacteria discovered...and itís still alive
A History Of Personal Hygiene
New test predicts C-section deliveries


Latest News from our Front Page

"Too many white people" in Pittsburgh says government official
2015-07-31 2:14
According to Abby Wilson, the deputy director of the Department of Health’s Bureau of Public Policy and Community Relations in Allegheny County, there are too many White people in Pittsburgh. She left Pittsburgh to work in South Africa and then study in the Netherlands, but now that she’s back, she wants to change it. “My two main gripes (about Pittsburgh) are: too ...
Judge blocks group from releasing more Planned Parenthood videos
2015-07-31 2:35
The pro-life group behind a series of undercover Planned Parenthood videos accused the bioservice firm StemExpress late Wednesday of trying to ‚Äúcover up this illegal baby parts trade‚ÄĚ after the company obtained a court order blocking the release of footage. The Los Angeles Superior Court issued a temporary injunction Tuesday stopping the Center for Medical Progress from releasing any video showing ...
US Fish & Wildlife Service Investigating Killing Of Cecil The Lion
2015-07-31 2:18
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the agency is investigating the killing of Cecil the Lion, saying it will ‚Äúgo where facts lead.‚ÄĚ The agency made the announcement via Twitter Thursday. Also Thursday, the Eden Prairie Police Department said that, while they will be stepping up neighborhood monitoring, they will not be providing personal protection for the dentist who killed ...
Dispute over bounced check caused brutal Hollywood shotgun killing: Cops
2015-07-31 2:40
Carrie Melvin, an aspiring Hollywood production assistant, was strolling with her boyfriend not far from Sunset Boulevard on the evening of July 5 when someone murdered her with a shotgun. Police have now arrested a suspect, Ezeoma Obioha, 31, and say his motivation was likely a dispute over a bounced check worth just a few hundred dollars. A Los Angeles ...
California Drought Could Wipe Cities Off Map If Their Water Runs Out
2015-07-31 2:28
The epicenter of California’s drought crisis is in the Central Valley, where there are growing fears the drought could wipe entire towns off of the map. Wells are going dry, jobs are harder to come by and families are already moving, either to different states or even Mexico in search of work. Before visiting Tulare County, a place where wells have gone ...
More News »