Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bacteria: friend or foe?

Bacteria are pretty awesome. In researching probiotics for some school projects I have come to realize that we should all be bathing in yogurt all the time if we want to be healthy. Who needs rational drug design when you have bacteria to make drugs for you and replicate themselves! There is a bunch of clinical evidence that bacteria found in regular old grocery store yogurt can improve regularity (for your butthole), metabolism, detoxification, boost your immune system and help you fight off cancer and viruses, kill pathogenic bacteria and yeast (hello drug resistant evil bacteria!), improve allergies and inflammatory disorders of the skin and intestine, help treat stomach uclers, eat up cholesterol, treat upper respiratory infections, and maybe even help people with autism!

I don't really know a lot about the immune system but as someone with allergies and a regular person who gets colds and could get cancer I am prettye excited about the immunomodulatory possibilities of probiotics. This paper outlines some of the cool immune system stuff that lactic acid bacteria can do. Totally sweet! I'm pretty sure people still don't really know how this works or why bacteria do this at all. Any thoughts?

So, do you want to eat more fermented food right now or is the idea of 10^8 bacteria/ml still not something you want to put in your mouth? I obviously vote for bacteria over chemicals. LB is way yummier than ethyl acetate. This is of course not the case for Americans at large, who would much rather take a million pills than think about ingesting live organisms that are meant to colonize your intestines and secrete wonderful goodies. I think that's a big part of the problem (hi again drug resistant evil bacteria).

7 comments:

Nick said...

christina likes to eat poop

Erin said...

I love the idea of probiotics as well. I think the more we learn about the bugs that live inside us the more we will realize how symbiotic the relationship really is. I hate how sterile and phobic society has become. Lets get right down to it and start getting dirty.

Although I must say I don't agree with eating poop. I think if my body decided to get rid of it the first time it would be redundant to put it right back. Boogers on the other hand are definitely edible, and good for the immune system as well.

Cressida said...

See, non-microbiologists? Microbes rock the hizz-ouse. I didn't take the time to read the paper you linked to because I'm too important, but does it mention the cancer-fighting bacteria? I heard about them when I interviewed at UCLA. I don't remember the details now, but essentially Listeria (everyone's favorite model pathogen) can be manipulated to seek out tumors. Like, really effectively. Then, you put lytic enzymes on the bacteria that only lyse human cells when the bacteria adheres to them. BOOM!! Cancer blows the fuck up, intracellular contents EVERYWHERE!

Another microbe that kicks ass is the parasite. I know I've told you the story of the clinical trial that used tapeworms to cure IBS? Totally worked like gangbusters. Drink a porcine tapeworm, poop it out in like a week, and your IBS goes away. Let's face it: my cells could TOTALLY take your cells in a fight.

Erin said...

I heard about the cancer fighting bacteria. I thought the coolest part was the idea of using anaerobic bacteria because they will seek out the hypoxic environment of a tumor. This allows them to get at those hardest to kill cells right at the center. In the study I heard about, the researchers treated people with lipid coated anti-cancer drugs and the bacteria produced an enzyme that only broke down those specific lipids. All very cool stuff.

Scott said...

Can I get a link to something abotu cancer fighting bacteria? I'm intrigued.

I love the idea of eating more yogurt to stay healthy. Since I've stopped eating yogurt in the morning regularly, my daily regularity has ended along with it. Now I poop once a week.

Last week, Christina ate it.

While we've mentioned all the positive effects of yogurt bacteria, any negative ones?

Christina said...

Commane, D. et al. The potential mechanisms involved in the anti-carcinogenic action of probiotics. Mutat Res. 2005 Dec 11;591(1-2):276-89.

This is just about regular old yogurt bacteria without any real cancer seeking power, although the cancer seeking is totally awesome too.

Also, I don't eat anybody's poop.

Cressida said...

The guy who did the cancer-fighting bacteria stuff I've heard of is Jeff Miller at UCLA. I think it was a nature paper(?), like 2005. He was using Listeria.

Also, Christina totally eats poop. And the anaerobic center of tumors. Just the center, though.