If you live in a city, each room of your house has its own distinct broth of microbes splattered all over its walls—most of it from your skin, mouth, and gut. But if you live in a rural area, this broth contains a lot more microbes from the environment outside. Now, scientists in the burgeoning field of “microbial biogeography” say this could help us understand why people in cities tend to develop diseases that are very different from people in the country.
Just imagine that it is raining bacteria all the time and you want to keep your experiment dry…
Bacteria are all around, all the time. How many, and what kind, of course will depend on the environment in question. How bad they are for you depends on multiple factors as well. Genetics, general health, previous exposure, etc. But most bacteria (by a wide margin) do not cause disease.
“Think of the children!” may one day be a slogan for a health campaign imploring people to eat more fiber.
Doctors and nutrition experts have been harping on the importance of fiber for years, particularly how most people in industrialized countries eat less than the recommended daily dose of 25 to 38 grams. After all, the nutrient, a diverse group of molecules that includes complex carbohydrates, helps keep you “regular.” Perhaps less well-known, fiber helps maintain a healthy, diverse population of gut microbes.
But eating fiber may not just benefit the microbial balance of the eater—it may also benefit that of the eater’s progeny, according to a new study in Nature.
Fun fact: Mothers pass gut bacteria on to children during childbirth. It’s been shown that C-section babies have much less diverse gut bacteria than those born naturally.
I know it seems unpleasant, but of the two ways we typically transfer them, I promise this is the one you want.
The part that surprises me the most is how much of the changes persist through reversing the diet, and through generations! I always thought that microbes that die off could be re-imported some way, or would hang out just enough to flourish when the old diet returns. At a minimum, I thought that the new generation would get a new crack at building a new microbiome. Apparently not.
That said, this experiment was done in a clean laboratory environment with clean laboratory grade food. In real life mice would be eating dirty food as well as each others excrement on a regular basis. Wouldn’t that yield very different results?
Biometrics are everywhere. Fingerprint scanners are a standard feature in the newest smartphones, DNA testing is common, and facial recognition is getting more and more terrifyingly reliable. But there are many biometric applications still lurking on the fringe, and some of them get really, really personal.
These are the three most embarrassing ways biometrics can identify you now — and might identify you tomorrow.
Cheese, once primarily a way to extend the useful life of milk, is today quite a darling in the foodie world. It’s also fertile territory for adventurous eaters, from Stilton flecked with gold to Sardinian casu marzu writhing with live maggots. Some have even made cheeses with the bugs from their armpits and toes.
But you don’t have be a connoisseur to appreciate these living castles of microorganisms. Each one is a house that bacteria and fungi built, and each has its own distinctive architectural style according the tastes of its inhabitants.