Kurszegat microbiome video cover from youtube.

(Video) How Bacteria Rule Over Our Bodies – the Microbiome

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[scroll down to view the video.] The animation house of Kurzsegat provides us with an 8-minute video on how the microbiome influences our health and mood and even encourages us to eat junk food. Scientists have linked the human microbiome to a variety of health conditions such as cancer, autism, weight gain, Parkinson’s Disease and even our mental health.  

Synopsis of Kurzgesagt Microbiome Video

Key Points:
  • A Healthy Microbiome Equals Healthy Immune System
  • Different Kinds of Microorganisms in Our Gut
  • Our Microbiome Can Make Us Happy or Sad
  • Our Microbiome Influences Our Diet
  • Fecal Transplants to Cure Disease

We have microbes all over us as it is not such a bad deal. Everybody has a unique microbiome, made up of fungi, parasites, bacteria, viruses, and other organisms. Millions of years ago humans made a pact with microbes: we give them food and shelter, and they work for us in return. However, rather than a partnership, it is more like a cold war, as we keep each other in check. The study of the human microbiome is an emerging field, and scientists are just now understanding how these complex microbial colonies interact with our bodies.

A Healthy Microbiome Equals Healthy Immune System

Our microbiome helps train our immune system to keep us healthy. We obtain our microbial partners from our mothers when we are born, traveling through the birth canal. Children born via C-section are deprived of this exposure, and as a result have a higher rate of immune diseases, asthma, and even leukemia. Over millions of years, we co-evolved to make the best of the relationship. For example, mother’s milk contains special sugars that are designed to feed and support specific microbes, act as a decoy for others, and help to modulate the immune system. It takes up to two years for a healthy microbe community to form in a newborn.

Because our gut is also an avenue of attack for intruders, it is guarded by an aggressive immune system. Because specific microbes help us stay healthy, it is essential that our immune system doesn’t attack them. Some microbes have a vested interest in keeping our gut healthy, so they produce messenger molecules, that educate our immune system. Other bacteria stimulate our gut cells to regenerate faster.

Different Kinds of Microorganisms in Our Gut

We have three categories of microbes both inside and outside our bodies:

  • Harmless microbes that are ignored by our immune system and keep more aggressive bacteria in check.
  • Microbes that harm us, but we have learned to live with them. For example, we harbor bacteria that create an acid that melts our teeth, if we do not brush enough.
  • Helpful microbes that digest our food and some that make vitamins.

Our Microbiome Can Make Us Happy or Sad

The Kurzgesagt video also suggests that bacteria talk to our brain. For example, the bacteria in our gut produce 90% of our body’s serotonin, an important messenger chemical that regulates anxiety, happiness, and mood. Low levels of serotonin can cause depression.  Some scientists think the microbiome does this to influence our bodies. In another example, certain bacteria stimulate immune cells in the gut to send an alarm signal to immune cells in the brain to help our brain recover from injuries. Since the brain decides what we eat, the microbiome is interested in keeping it healthy.

Our microbiome may also keep us depressed. For example, healthy rats fed microbes from the guts of depressed people show symptoms of anxiety and depression. Another study published early in 2017, linked the microbiome to intelligence, by tying a specific bacterial colony in newborns, with better motor and language skills.

Our Microbiome Influences Our Diet

The authors of the Kurzgesagt video make the compelling claim that our microbiome influences our food choices and helps keep us addicted to fast-food.

Our initial microbial colony comes from our mother, and what we eat determines how it will change. The organisms in our gut thrive on different foods, some feed on dietary fibers; others go for sugars and starches, and some like fats. Our gut is a garden, and we decide what will blossom.

When we eat too much fast food, it stimulates the growth of bacteria that feed on fats. These bacteria emit messenger chemicals which stimulate the appetite centers of our brain, inducing us to keep eating fast food. If we eat healthy food, then we breed bacteria that like healthy food. If we eat too much fast food, then we breed fast-food loving bacteria. In turn, these bacteria send signals to the brain that make us want more fast food. This self-reinforcing cycle could play a huge role in obesity.

Microbiome Transplant to Cure Disease

Sometimes, doctors introduce an army of good bacteria to help fight off an army of bad ones.  When people are infected with c. difficile bacteria, a particularly nasty type of bacteria that takes over the gut, doctors prescribe fecal transplants, which introduce a colony of good bacteria into the afflicted patient.

Fecal transplants have other effects. For example transferring microbes from slim people to obese ones made them less sensitive to insulin. However, this procedure can have unexpected effects. A transplant from an overweight donor cured a woman’s diarrhea but contributed to her obesity down the line.

Learn more about fecal transplants: Why Are People Eating Pills of Poop?

Bottom Line

The Kurzgesagt video concludes by saying that scientists still don’t fully understand the microbiome and need to perform more research. The bottom line is that our microbiome is a powerful ally if we can keep the peace.

Learn More About the Microbiome (Related Articles)

Other Videos by Kurzsegat

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Cover photo: Screenshot from Kurzsegat video.

Disclaimer

Diagnosis, Advice, and Treatment:  This article is intended for informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. The information provided in this report should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Consult a licensed physician for the diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911, or the equivalent emergency hotline number, for all medical emergencies. As well, consult a licensed physician before changing your diet, supplement or exercise programs.  Photos, External Links & Endorsements: This article is not intended to endorse companies, organizations or products. Links to external websites, depiction/mention of company names or brands, are intended only for illustration and do not constitute endorsements.

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