I was listening to the America’s Test Kitchen Radio yesterday, and I heard of a project that I think the word must be spread about.
What’s it about? From their website:
“The Human Microbiome Project and other microbiome projects worldwide have laid an important foundation for understanding the trillions of microbes that inhabits each of our bodies. However, opportunities for the public to get involved in such research has been limited. Now, American Gut gives you an opportunity to participate and to compare the microbes in your gut to those in the guts of thousands of other people in the US and around the world. American Gut is a project built on open-source, open-access principles. Our data are for the good of understanding and will be shared both with participants and with other scientists. Our experience has been that our best ideas and work come when we involve people in as many steps of our work as possible, be they scientists, educators, roofers, ultra-marathon runners or corporate leaders. Everyone has something to offer, whether their sample, their hypotheses, their analyses or their dog (yes, their dog, we will get back to that). The more we can understand the complex microbial ecosystems on which we depend, the more everyone will benefit.”
HERE is a PDF with more from the American Academy of Microbiology.
Basically – we’ve all heard about DNA sequencing and the “Human Genome” project. The problem is that it’s VERY hard to affect your DNA. However, many people still don’t know that our bodies (as creepy as this sounds) are basically 37 trillion human (skin, blood, muscle) cells – the “human genome” – and three times that in microbes – the “human microbiome.”
And we can affect microbes.
Hence, the “Microbe Genome” project.
Example: We’ve all heard that if we take antibiotics, we can “wipe out” not only the bad bacteria that’s making us sick, but also good bacteria. That “good bacteria” then has to reCOLONize in our body – yes, emphasis on “colon.”
What happens if what we’re eating and doing means that we wipe them out – then we can’t get all the good ones back? What we eat “feeds” them – so there is a dramatic, immediate way to affect our own health and performance by investigating what we have, and what we don’t have, growing inside us.
This project even postulates that they might get diets down to about 8 different ones – depending on what you seem to “host best” (yes, we are just all hosts for these microbes!). Eat what feeds your “good bacteria” best, have an immediate and lasting affect on your performance, life, mental and physical health. Really.
Just about everyone now knows about seratonin. It’s a neurotransmitter tied to learning, memory, aging, sleep, sexual function, mood (it’s called the “happiness hormone” because you need it to experience the feeling of “well being”). And it’s made in the gut. What if your gut doesn’t have the right bacteria to help you out? No seratonin – no good. Depression and misery! And that’s just one of the many, many things that are tied intimately to your gut.
I just purchased one kit for myself, and one for my grandboy. He’s been having terrible health issues that the doctors have just thrown up their hands about. We’re talking about screaming pain, throwing up, inability even to go to school or Boy Scouts. For months and months. This is a normal, social boy, and it’s just killing us. It’s been going on for forever and it’s wearing him down. Who knows? Maybe once we send in for his microbe test, we’ll find he’s “over colonized” by some bacteria, or is missing another. I’m super excited about the possibilities.
As for me, I am a confirmed biohacker, and my change to eating gluten-free and attacking “leaky gut” issues was a choice designed to address thyroid and other hormone issues that are wreaking havoc in my life. I joined the “Citizen Scientist” human genome project – but, as their website says, you can have a FAR more immediate affect on yourself if you work on yourself from the microbe level.
You should check this out! I think it’s important! Again – you can still be a part of it!!! AmericanGut.org.