Bacteria: Good Eats?

Eat Good Bacteria. Might be the take away message of a recent study published in the journal of Molecular Systems Biology. The scientific team, including Jeremy Nicholson a biochemist at Imperial College London, found that even a small amount of 'good' bacteria introduced to the digestive track of a mouse can create profound changes in the mouse's metabolism. In what has been a controversial issue, the solid study points to the increasing evidence that living healthy, reducing disease, and fighting obesity, at least in part, might be helped if we all ate a few more 'good' bacteria.The digestive track is a mysterious, and crowded place. More than 1000 different species totaling over 100 trillion individual microorganisms call your gut home. As Stephen Colbert points out you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head. What are all those nerve endings doing? Well, they might be listening to the conversation.

"Gut bacteria talk to each other," says Nicholson. The bacteria in your gut perform incredibly useful work in digesting food, yet they must all work in some coordinated fashion to get the job done. Achieving the right mix of bacteria, can lead to the right signals or 'talk', which can be critical to the digestive system, and metabolism. The kicker is you don't even need that many 'good' bacteria to make a difference.

Nicholson points out that one major finding of their study is that a relatively small number of 'good' bacteria (sometimes called probiotics) can have a huge effect on what the rest of the gut community decides to do. Just a few billion probiotics, like those found in a serving of yogurt (with active cultures), could be enough to marshal the titanic forces of the gut ecosystem.

There is certainly no silver bullet for obesity or eating healthy, but the ability to dramatically alter metabolism by eating a few 'good' bacteria is a tantalizing direction for future research. This research highlights the importance of bacterial populations in the gut, and what a big difference the food we decide to eat can have on our health.

It makes me wonder if our highly processed and irradiated food has lost the rich microbial life that our gut requires to function properly. What do you think?

:: via ScienceNow

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