Could the germs in your gut underlie Western frailties?

Germs living in the gut may cause higher rates of allergies, chronic stomach upsets and even obesity among children living in rich industrialized countries, researchers reported.

They compared intestinal bacteria between European Union children and young villagers in remote Burkina Faso, and found enough differences to help explain disparities in chronic disease and obesity…

Our results suggest that diet has a dominant role over other possible variables such as ethnicity, sanitation, hygiene, geography, and climate, in shaping the gut microbiota,” Paolo Lionetti of the University of Florence in Italy and colleagues wrote. “We can hypothesize that the reduction in richness we observe in EU compared with Burkina Faso children, could indicate how the consumption of sugar, animal fat, and calorie-dense foods in industrialized countries is rapidly limiting the adaptive potential of the microbiota.”

The study builds on a body of evidence that human health relies heavily on the trillions of microorganisms living in and on our bodies. Only a fraction cause disease directly — many more help digest food, affect other bacteria and may influence hundreds of biological functions…

The Italian team found the African children had many bacteria that help break down fiber, but the European children were lacking these microbes. The ratios were similar to studies comparing the gut bacteria of lean people to obese people.

This bacterial balance could even be causing obesity, the researchers said. It may also be useful to test children for these bacteria to see if they are at high risk of becoming obese, they said.

“Reduction in microbial richness is possibly one of the undesirable effects of globalization and of eating generic, nutrient-rich, uncontaminated foods,” Lionetti’s team wrote in the study.

Too true. Especially if you’re ignorant enough to restrain your hunter-gatherer expeditions to some chain store supermarket.

Restricting your diet to choices limited to processed meat, processed cheese, steamed and bleached flour products, canned veggies and the range of what passes as inconvenient foods [in my mind] – restricts healthful living to a narrower range of vectors mostly governed by chance.

Learn more about what you eat. Please!

3 thoughts on “Could the germs in your gut underlie Western frailties?

  1. Mr. Fusion says:

    Interesting post.

    Humans are undergoing a evolutionary change with their jaws. Since we started cooking food, man’s jaw muscles have atrophied causing our jaws to shrink. Chimpanzees spend up to 12 hours a day chewing twigs and leaves to get the nutrition humans get from less than one hour eating cooked foods. Although not everyone, many people now need their wisdom teeth removed. The question to think about is “What would have happened if we hadn’t discovered Dentistry?”

    This post ties in with the idea of stomach ulcers. Long thought to be caused by the stress of western society and not found in more “primitive” people, we now know ulcers are caused by bacterial infections. Also, spoiled food that would kill a human, dogs can eat with no effect as their stomach acid is much stronger than ours.

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