Gut Bacteria

Topics: Bacteria, Gut flora, Gene Pages: 5 (1553 words) Published: December 14, 2010
Gut Bacteria
In today’s world, many people have a very negative connotation when they hear the word “bacteria”. Bacteria have been the cause to many diseases, however bacteria do have some benefits and uses. There are thousands and thousands of different types of bacteria in the world and one group of bacteria, Gut Flora, has become evident in the bacterial community for being beneficial. Gut Flora is a group of bacteria that consists of microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts of animals. A healthy adult has around a trillion microbes of these bacteria in the gut. These bacteria have a vital role in the body and without them people probably would not survive. It is essential that people take care of their gut flora because a damaged gut flora has been the main cause of many diseases. Despite the fact that gut bacteria may have some harmful effects on humans and animals, the existence of gut bacteria within the intestinal tract result in the gain of many benefits for the bacteria and the host. Bacteria can gain a lot from being in the intestinal tract. The intestinal tract provides a place for the bacteria to live and bacteria feeds on the food we eat, or on the compounds we produce. However, at the same time bacteria is frequently assaulted by things like antibiotic treatment, birth control pills, radiation therapy, constipation and a diet that is low in calcium, fiber, lactose and other complex carbohydrates, but high in meats, coffee, tea and alcohol (Intestinal Ecology). It is very beneficial to have bacteria in the intestinal tracts, because the bacteria can close up the ecological space in our bodies, so that invading pathogens cannot get a solid foothold. Also some species in our guts can break down food in ways that we can’t, and synthesize certain vitamins and other compounds beyond human biochemistry (Zimmer 2). For example, herbivores carry a certain type of bacteria that can aid in the digestion of the otherwise indigestible cellulose. In humans, certain types of carbohydrates such as starches, fiber, oligosaccharides, and sugars can only be digested with the help of bacteria. The bacteria turn carbohydrates into short chain fatty acids that are used to provide energy and nutrients for humans. Bacteria increases the gut’s absorption of water, reduce the amount of damaging bacteria, increase growth of human gut cells, and are used for the growth of indigenous bacteria. Along with benefits there are a few detriments with having bacteria in the intestinal tracts. New research has recently proved that Gut Bacteria is a cause of obesity. Andrew Gewirtz, PhD, associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, states, "Previous research has suggested that bacteria can influence how well energy is absorbed from food, but these findings demonstrate that intestinal bacteria can actually influence appetite". Gut bacteria can be detrimental to a person’s health because it could affect their appetite, in turn creating obesity. This theory has been shown through an experiment done by a biologist, Jeffrey Gordon. Gordon kept some mice in a bacteria-free environment and these mice remained skinny. When the food enters the mice’s intestine, a great amount of it remains undigested. Conversely, the mice that live in a normal environment gain more weight because they take in more calories (“Gut Bacteria May Cause and Fight Disease, Obesity”). Sometimes, helpful bacteria may end up becoming very harmful. Translocation is an example of process in which the bacteria get outside of the intestinal tract. “Infections, through translocation of intestinal bacteria, are a major cause of morbidity and mortality during acute pancreatitis, sepsis and liver cirrhosis. Bacterial translocation is defined as the passage of viable indigenous bacteria from the intestinal tract through the epithelial mucosa to the mesenteric lymph nodes, and then to systemic circulation” (Dr A. A. Al-Bader). ....

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2008. Web. 26 Apr. 2010.
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