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The Germ Guy: Confessions of a Mercurial Microbiologist

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Do You Really Need An Antibiotic?

This week has been filled with controversy. In that vein, I feel it’s a good time to say something equally controversial:

Sometimes the best antibiotic prescription
is no prescription at all.

Okay, if you happen to be in public health, especially in Canada, this might not seem all that troublesome. After all, it’s been a mantra in the medical community for years. Yet, considering we still hear about the abuse and misuse of these life-saving drugs, the guidance hasn’t been accepted universally.

One of the reasons for the lack of compliance is based on a statement I hear quite often when I’m out in the public realm. Maybe you have heard it – or said it – at one time or another:

Prove to me I don’t need an antibiotic.

Admittedly, it’s a difficult request. But over the last few years, researchers have been exploring whether a person can deal with a bacterial infection without the use of antibiotics. The answer is yes but finding a way to show this to the public has been a real challenge. Usually, the information is hidden in statistics, which can be subject to skepticism.

However, I came across something that might demonstrate why forgoing an antibiotic may be worthwhile. It looks something like this…

 (Kinda cool, eh?)

What you’re looking at is a figure that comes from a paper entitled, Symptom response to antibiotic prescribing strategies in acute sore throat in adults: the DESCARTE prospective cohort study in UK general practice. You can click on the title to read the paper.

As you can guess from the graph above and the title of the paper, the researchers examined the progression of the traditional sore throat based on symptoms. They looked at 1512 people who had suffered the illness. The symptom information then was matched with the treatment the individuals received.

  • Some had no antibiotics (the blue);
  • Some had a regular antibiotic prescription (the red);
  • Some had what is known as a delayed antibiotics (green).

Delayed antibiotics is a recent trend going around in which a patient is asked to wait a few days after an initial visit to determine if the infection goes away. This is a great way to determine if the infection is bacterial and may need antibiotics, or viral, in which case antibiotics are useless. This approach also allows the body to fight the infection few days. There’s a good reason for this:

The immune system can handle
many infections on its own.

Based on all the results, the addition of antibiotics resulted in an observed reduction in the length of the worst symptoms. But the extent was far less than anyone might have believed. In fact, once all the numbers were crunched, the benefit ended up being equivalent to a grand total of…

One day.

That’s it. Twenty-four hours of lessened symptoms. Nothing more.

The researchers did happen to point out that those who didn’t take antibiotics had a harder time dealing with the infection throughout the period. But in the end, they recovered just as well as those who had taken the antibiotics.

The results of this study may help add credence to the mantra, but that doesn’t mean forgoing antibiotics is valid for every infection. Just recently, I came across an individual who had a sore throat and decided not to take antibiotics. The person lasted a week before caving in to the pain. The bacterial infection was more troublesome and the immune system needed a boost.

If you are wondering what the best option might be should your throat start to scratch, your urinary tract start to burn, or your eyes begin to turn red and water, let me be perfectly clear:

I can’t tell you.

This is a decision that only can be made between you and your doctor.

What I will advise is that when you do feel those troubles and you make that appointment, don’t be quick to ask for a prescription. Your doctor may want perform some tests first to find out what might be causing the troubles. You may be asked to wait and see if your immune system can pull through. Or, there may be ample evidence to make the prescription immediately.

Just remember, if you are given a prescription and fill it, you need to stick with it until the end, even if you feel better. This way you can be sure that you are clearing your body of the infection and reducing the chances for recurrence down the road.

Finally, I’m curious about the use of antibiotics. So, let me ask a relatively simple question I hope many of you won’t mind answering:

When was your last antibiotic prescription?

 

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Solving World Hunger With Bacteria…

Back in 1999, a movie came out that revolutionized science fiction and led to one of the most iconic lines in movie history…

(Welcome To The Real World…)

If you haven’t seen the film, I suggest you take a few hours and immerse yourself in the concept of a world created within a world.

But within the script of this nearly flawless film, there is one term that has raised eyebrows for nearly two decades. Rather than watch the whole film to find it, I’ve put the moment in question here:

(It starts at 48 seconds…)

If you didn’t catch it, they are eating something called “Single Cell Protein.” While this may sound rather futuristic, it comes from a concept developed in the past….

(In the 1960s…)

The idea was to somehow find a way to make food from bacteria. Back then, the concept was considered futuristic and not possible at the time.

But now the future has become reality thanks to a Finnish company called VTT. They have created the first viable single cell protein mixture. You can read more about the story by clicking on the title, “A Team of Scientists Just Made Food From Electricity — and it Could be the Solution to World Hunger

What makes this discovery so interesting is the actual look of the food source…


(Looks like the stuff in the movie..)

The link between VTT and film goes beyond visual appearance. This single cell protein mix is made using equipment that play a major role in the film…

 (Bioreactors…)

Of course, this cinematic version is quite different from the one used by VTT. First off, the scale is significantly smaller. Then there are the living organisms contained in the reactor. I won’t give away what is inside those fictional reactors but VTT is happy to share what is inside their system…

(“Knallgas” Bacteria…)

The name may seem strange but the decision to go with these types of bacteria is quite sound. Here’s why…

If you happen to speak German, you’ll know that “Knallgas” means “Bang Gas.”

If you happen to know anything about gases, you’ll realize that bang gas is another name for hydrogen.

If you have studied hydrogen utilizing bacteria, you’ll know they use carbon dioxide as an energy source to grow.

Finally, if you have any appreciation for what bacteria produce as they grow, you’ll come to realize that this reactor will end up in the production of single cells filled with proteins and other components such as sugars and fats.

We tend to call these bacteria chemolithoautotrophs but thanks to VTT you can also call them by a different moniker…

(The solution to global hunger…)

As mentioned in the film, single cell protein has everything the body needs. But that isn’t the reason why this discovery could revolutionize food security. That lies in the necessities to produce this nutritious product:  carbon dioxide, water, bacteria, and a source of electricity.

In light of the problems we face with climate change, reduced agricultural space, and an ever-growing human population, this route may be the key to improving health across the globe.

With a little more time and some upscale efforts, we may use single cell protein as a viable means to keep the world’s population fed. Perhaps more importantly, having well-fed people may help to foster brilliant minds from all over the world. This then can lead to even more fantastic and amazing revolutions…

(Unlike this one, which was a true disappointment…)

Ivanka Trump And A Different MAGA (Mosquitoes Ain’t Gonna Attack)

I don’t know anyone who actually enjoys getting bit by a mosquito. The only exception might be…

(Mosquito Researchers…)

The bites themselves are bad enough with the welts and incessant itching. But when you take into account the potential for disease transmission, a mosquito meal may present more than a mere annoyance. The list of potential infections is getting longer and the impact of these agents on human health is well…

(Staggering…)

There’s one sure way to avoid an infection…don’t get bit. That’s why media stories on mosquitoes and health usually include advice such as wearing long clothing, avoiding prime mosquito meal times, and of course, using a repellent, such as N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide, which is better known as…

(DEET!)

How DEET works is pretty fascinating. It’s a chemical that gives off a particular odour that repels mosquitoes. The mechanism behind this action took quite some time to figure out but as always, scientists were on the case and eventually figured it out.

Much like humans have the olfactory system, which allows us to detect smells and determine whether we like them or not, mosquitoes have a similar mechanism to recognize molecules in the air. It looks something like this…

(Feel itchy yet?)

That ORN is known as an olfactory receptor neuron and it possesses a number of different proteins capable of recognizing various molecules in the air called odorant receptors. Somewhere within those neurons is a receptor that tells the mosquito to veer away when DEET is around.

Unfortunately, no one knew which one receptor was responsible. This made attempts to study this process any further difficult at best. Then in 2014, a team of researchers examined those odorant receptors and figured out which one detected DEET.  They published the finding in the paper, “Mosquito odorant receptor for DEET and methyl jasmonate,” which you can click on to read.

The receptor is called CquiOR136, which stands for Culex quinquefasciatus Odorant Receptor 136. It’s not a fancy name but the team makes up for this apparent lack of creativity with a cool sense of…

(Style…)

The data reveals CquiOR136, upon sensing DEET, or another molecule known as methyl jasmonate, sends a message to the mosquito’s brain that the environment is threatening and that it’s best to move on to other places. If that area happens to be your skin, you are saved from a bite.

This discovery allowed us to develop a new definition for the now common acronym, MAGA. Instead of Make America Great Again, however, these researchers have found the trick to ensure…

(“Mosquitoes Ain’t Gonna Attack.”)

After the discovery of CquiOR136, researchers tried to find other products capable of triggering that molecule and keeping mosquitoes away. Over the coming year, certain soaps and perfumes were found to repel mosquitoes. Some were even as good as DEET.

With this in mind, a team of Californian and Brazilian researchers decided it was worth looking at a specific perfume to see whether the product also could keep mosquitoes away.

The fragrance they settled on happened to be…

(You could say they were allured…)

Actually, we don’t know the answer as it was never mentioned in the paper. You can check for yourself by reading it here: Ingredients in Victoria’s Secret Bombshell and Ivanka Trump eaux de parfums that repel mosquitoes.

One could surmise, however, the choice was due to presence of an ingredient in the perfume. If you look at the title of the paper from the DEET researchers above, you’ll find a specific name, methyl jasmonate. As you might expect, it’s a molecule found in the jasmine plant, which is included in Ivanka’s fragrance description.

The team went searching to find something that looked like methyl jasmonate and they indeed found it. It was a little different in name – methyl dihydrojasmonate – but the group figured it may have the same effect on mosquitoes.

They performed the tests using another product already shown to repel the insects – Victoria Secret’s Bombshell – and observed whether the mosquitoes found the fragrance alluring or repulsive.

I’ll let the data speak for itself with this graph comparing DEET, Bombshell, and Ivanka’s perfume on how well skin was protected against bites…

(Pretty impressive…)

With this in mind, you might think about making the switch from DEET to Ivanka’s pink potion. But there is a slight issue one should consider. To get an equal level of protection as DEET, the same amount of perfume would have to be used as one would use with a repellent. This would probably mean changing the bottle top from the gentle, mist-forming, atomizer to well, this…

 (You get the point…)

In light of all the concerns we have these days with sensitivities to fragrances, it may not be all that great of an idea.  Not to mention, the cost of Ivanka’s fragrance is about US$30 a bottle. In comparison, that good old fashioned DEET spray will set you back less than $10.

While this study is obviously as much fun as it is science, there is a serious message. In light of the troubles mosquitoes can cause, you can never go wrong with keeping a good repellent around. It’s all about keeping true to MAGA – Mosquitoes Ain’t Gonna Attack.

Whether you go with the usual brands or take a chance on Trump, just be sure to have something to keep those mosquitoes away. Because unlike the other Trump MAGA, this one deals not with society, but your own health. In light of the risks associated with mosquitoes these days, you can never be too safe.

From Germ Guy to YEGhead…

Normally, I am contacted by the media about three to five times per week for interviews although that number can reach into the dozens over a seven-day period. As a result of the sheer number of appearances, I tend not to post the reports lest this blog be little more than a link hub.

However, I want to share one particular interview from yesterday with you.

(The Ryan Jespersen Show)

If you have about twenty minutes, you can listen to the entire discussion as the topics encapsulate most of the stories I’ve been discussing over the last seven days.

Even if you don’t have that amount of time, I would suggest you listen to the first two minutes as I make an announcement live on air. As to the nature of that announcement, if you are familiar with airport codes, you might already know the details from the title of this post.

If not, this might offer some assistance…

(If, of course, you are familiar with hockey…)

If that isn’t helping, this visual clue may help…

(If, of course, you are familiar with shopping malls…)

If it’s still not clicking, perhaps this can make everything perfectly clear…

(a.k.a. YEG)

Come January 2018, I’ll be leaving the metropolis of Toronto and heading out west to the exquisite environs of Edmonton.

The move is not random, I assure you. This has been in discussion for almost a year and only recently became official. I won’t share the details here but if you wish to learn more, you know how to contact me.

What I can tell you is this. The move has the potential to open up new avenues in the realm of science communication. Being The Germ Guy has brought me to this incredible point in my life. Yet, I have expanded my horizons over the last decade. I hope to increase the scope of my work over the coming years although perhaps not with the moniker, The YEGhead. But who knows…

The process most likely will be slow but I promise you, I will do my best not to lose my mercurial nature. It is a part of who I am and I cannot imagine losing it. Besides, I find it always helps to deal with stories such as one I recently discussed on TV dealing with…

(Germy birthday cakes…)

I hope you will continue to stick with me as I make this transition. I have been thankful for your support over the years and will do my best to keep you engaged and entertained regardless of what place I call home.

 

Would You Accept A Hepatitis-C-Infected Liver Transplant?

A few days ago, I came across a news article that intrigued me. It involved the practice of performing liver transplants using donors who are infected with Hepatitis C virus. You can read the article here: Could hep-C-infected livers solve New York’s organ-donor shortage?

Right off the bat, you might think this concept would be described best as…

(Who would do such a thing?)

Up until a few years ago, you would be right. The mere idea of transplanting organs, blood, or other tissues infected with hepatitis C was considered completely unethical. After all, you would be giving a person a potentially lethal disease.

Yet, times have changed. Today, there is a treatment for this viral disease with up to 99% success rate. It’s known as…

(aka “The Cure”)

This drug is a combination of two effective means to prevent Hepatitis C from reproducing in the body. One, known as sofosbuvir prevents the virus from multiplying inside the cell. The other, velpatasvir, blocks the ability to assemble new viruses.

With this in mind, the concept of transplanting an infected liver becomes a little less worrisome. After all, if there’s a cure, then why not give someone a shot at living a longer life? It fulfills the human belief that…

(No one would argue with this…)

But unfortunately, there is a catch. The drug is expensive. We’re talking in the region of US$75,000 per treatment. That’s an incredible amount, particularly those without proper insurance.

Upon hearing this number, the usual approach to pharmaceuticals may come into play, which usually sounds a bit like this…

 (Remember, this is a family-friendly blog…)

But the exorbitant cost shouldn’t cause much surprise. Advanced pharmaceuticals such as this drug combination are going to be expensive. We’re not dealing with run of the mill tetracycline, which can be made for pennies a pill. The process of making these drugs is difficult and maintaining proper quality control requires far more effort. Also, Epclusa is not as pricey as other treatments offered, which can be tens of thousands of dollars higher. So, according to its manufacturer, this drug is a bit of a deal in comparison.

I understand this may seem like a defense of the pharmaceutical industry and that for the sake of public opinion you might suggest…

(Which is usually good advice…)

But when dealing with a serious topic such as transplantation, in which the end result is either life or death, the issue of what is the right cost for a drug becomes secondary to the situation at hand.

I do think the amount is too high. Yet this is the reality as we face it. It’s not what most people – other than perhaps stockholders of the company – would like to hear but as we’ve learned in many health-related issues, we have to…

(It never gets easy…)

Which brings me back to the article. Should we use infected livers for donation? I feel if a system in is place that allows the recipient to receive cost-effective and/or fully covered treatment, it may help to lower the burden of waiting lists.

But what if a person is going to undergo the treatment and then be left to deal with figuring out how to deal with the disease? The individual may be faced with a question of prolonged life in a state of continual debt.

At this point, the decision should be left up to the person to decide which is the better option. Then, when the choice is made, we should all stand with that person and say only…

(Also, “I support you.”)

 

The Unexpected Taste Of Pure, Pure Water…

In order to survive, almost all life forms require water to live. There are some exceptions, like bacterial spores, some worms, and the most fascinating creature of all…

(The Tardigrade!)

For humans, drinking water may seem to be a rather inert process. We drink, we become hydrated, and we’re good to go. But have you ever taken the time to notice the taste of water?

It may seem odd at first but when you think about it, every water source has a different effect on our tongues. In some circles, the taste of water can determine its quality. There are even, believe it or not…

(Water Sommeliers…)

The key to a good water lies in the content within. Salts, minerals, and other components all add to the flavour of that clear solution. Depending on the concentrations, your tongue will be greeted with a different sensation, which provides your brain with either pleasure or unhappiness.

But what about pure water? Would you think it has a taste?

I’ve tried it myself and I have to admit, I was shocked when I noticed my tongue reacting to the liquid combination of hydrogen and oxygen. Back then, I had no idea what was happening. But now it seems the mechanism behind that taste has been identified.

The answer comes to us in the form of an article entitled, The cellular mechanism for water detection in the mammalian taste system. If you click on the title, you should be directed to a free PDF. If not, I apologize.

The researchers set out to figure out how our tongues perceive the taste of water. As you might expect, they believed the answer lied in the taste buds. If you’ve never seen one at the molecular level, here’s what it looks like…

(Pretty, don’t you think?)

The key to taste is found on the surface of those cells wrapped up in the ball. They are called taste receptor cells, or TRCs. They can sense all five tastes – sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami – and relay that information to the brain.

The team decided to take a look at these cells and the molecules that determine the various tastes, aptly called taste receptors, in the hopes of finding any that would react to pure water. Eventually, they did. The TRCs responded the same way we respond to…

(Acids…)

You’re probably wondering how something that is completely pure and devoid of any acids – or bases for that matter – might trigger an acid response. The researchers did too. The answer came in the form of another normal process we all perform but think very little about…

(Exhaling…)

When we breathe out, we are sending out carbon dioxide into the air. But not all of it goes into the atmosphere. Some of the TRCs will actually grab on to the molecule and mix it with the water in our mouths. The end result is another product we all know quite well but don’t consider to be part of our bodies…

(Bicarbonate…)

This natural base keeps the TRCs prepped for anything acidic that might be considered toxic or noxious. Many possible substances apply in this case although one I had hoped would fit into this category does not…

(But I digress…)

When pure water enters the taste bud area, a dilution effect occurs. The bicarbonate is removed from the area and the TRCs recognize this as the arrival of an acid.

Here’s where it gets interesting…

When the TRCs are triggered, we tend to want to drink more. It’s as if our brains want us to continue the dilution process. That makes sense as water does offer the chance to clear out mouths and reset the balance.

But this has no effect on our sensation of dehydration or the feeling of being full due to water. This is controlled by another system in the body related to stress. In other words, while these TRCs may help us drink a little more, they are not responsible for…

(You get the idea…)

With this in hand, here’s a little experiment for you to try.

When you next decide to take a sip of water, take a moment to decide if first you can taste it. Do you have a slightly acidic feeling on your tongue? If so, what does it bring to your mind?

Next, see if you can just have just that one sip alone. Do you need more right after? You may find yourself having to go back to the glass or bottle for some more dilution to feel happy.

Finally, when you are finished drinking the total volume, try to discern a taste. Is it different from when you took your first sip? Can you sense the dilution effect?

If you decide to perform the experiment, let me know and share the results in the comments.

Is Social Media Making You Depressed?

Based on all the hype over social media, most people may think logging on is the equivalent of saying…

(A world of opportunities…)

But last month, a study came out that suggests hopping on to the information highway may have a very different result. Instead of finding joy, the researchers suggest we may be making ourselves…

(You get the emoticon idea…)

The paper is entitled, The happiness paradox: your friends are happier than you and it appears in the journal, European Physical Journal Data Science. While the article is a great read, the overall outcome of this report reveals social media – or at least Twitter – is not a reflection of a democratic society. Rather, it is more like another environment all of us have encountered at one time or another…

(High School…)

Anyone who has walked these halls knows amid the goals of education, life learning, and of course, doing well on exams, there is another mission for many a student. We can call it striving interpersonal relationship success, seeking widespread esteem, or developing a cult of personality. But most people tend to call it…

(A Popularity Contest…)

Much like high school, if you are not popular on social media, then you may be ‘missing out’ on the events and activities others may be experiencing. You may also find a lack of interaction leads to a reduction in self-esteem and self-worth. If things get really bad, you may sink into a quasi-depressive state.

But this isn’t the worst of the situation. In high school, the interaction within the population lasts only about six hours a day and is interrupted by classes. On social media, this effect can be continuous. By seeing the experiences of other individuals and comparing them to yours, you may be amplifying the effect and worsening the potential for…

(Mental Health Concerns…)

From a social perspective, this paper probably makes quite a bit of sense. But mechanistically speaking, there is little information to help us understand why this effect happens.

Thankfully, the answer was found some seven years ago in a paper entitled, A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind, which was published in the journal, Science.

The study was simple in that the researchers contacted 2250 adults at random times and asked them a series of questions beginning with their state of happiness. With that in place, they asked about what the individual was doing at that moment, whether the mind was wandering, and if so, on what imagery.

When the results came back, the team discovered a wandering mind was in a way similar to what is commonly associated with idle hands…

 (They do the devil’s work…)

Almost half the people contacted were suffering from a wandering mind. When they were asked about the nature of the wandering, most were thinking of pleasant topics while only about a quarter were thinking of unpleasant situations. As one might expect, the latter group were not feeling altogether happy. But even those who were thinking of pleasing situations were also not any happier.

I admit, after I read this, I was probably thinking the same thing as you…

(It makes no sense…)

But when you think about it, those who were wandering to pleasant thoughts were trying to get away from an unpleasant reality. They were not happy to begin with and no amount of daydreaming would help.

As for those thinking unpleasant thoughts, it seemed to be a consequence of a lack of focused action. They were either bored or doing something that required little focus, such as watching television, doing errands, commuting, or trying to keep themselves busy by…

(I’m sure you guessed this already…)

This develops a vicious cycle in which a combination of a lack of focus and low popularity on social media lead a person down a rather unfortunate path of even more unpleasant thoughts.

The best way to avoid all this trouble is to give yourself the opportunity to get away from the contests and the lack of focus. This could come in the form of a good book, a compelling movie or television series, a hobby, skill, or exercise.

There’s also one other activity some may considering. It was found by the researchers in the second study to cause the least amount of mind wandering…

 (If you don’t get this, Google, “The Newlywed Game”)

 

 

Consider The Conceit Behind The Concept…

When I wrote The Germ Files I had one goal in mind. I wanted readers to better understand the role of microbes in their lives and in their health. In doing so, I avoided using the names of specific species unless it was warranted. Instead, I grouped the hundreds to thousands of species found in and on our bodies into three major groups.

  • Friends
  • Foes
  • Bystanders

As I’ve learned, this strategy was quite effective as it kept the focus on the information, mechanisms, and any relevant advice I shared.

I also made it very clear this book was composed for all audiences, not just those in the scientific community. This was not a 300 page academic paper. Although the statements were based on over a thousand scientific articles – and some of my own research – I had no intention of regurgitating the information. Doing so would have put me into a corner and limited the reach of my message.

If you haven’t read the book yet, I invite you to pick it up and give it a read because it will help to understand what I am about to discuss.

Last week, a paper came out in the journal PLoS ONE entitled: Microbiome restoration diet improves digestion, cognition and physical and emotional wellbeing. As you might expect, this initially caught my eye as it appeared to parallel what I like to call the “good germs friendly diet” I discuss in my book. I was anxious to give it a read.

The concept appeared to be relatively straightforward. A group of 21 volunteers underwent a month-long diet called The Gut Makeover. The paper outlined the diet, which involved the following steps:

  • Three main meals each day with no snacks between;
  • Nothing between dinner and breakfast;
  • Five cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit;
  • Add some protein;
  • Keep the plants varied between 20 and 30 over the course of a week;
  • At least 20 chews per bite
  • Use virgin olive oil and coconut oil as the base for any cooking

As for the restrictions, there were quite a few including refined sugars, grains, alcohol, caffeine, and dairy products.

At this point, the diet seemed to be similar to almost all diets out there. Nothing seemed to be unique.

The difference involved the inclusion of fermented and prebiotic foods after the second week. This included kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, and miso on the fermented side and a variety of fibre-filled vegetables and fruit as prebiotics.

Once I had arrived at this, I had mixed feelings. All of these recommendations are part of a “good germs friendly diet.” Most also can be found in the best diet for our microbes, the Mediterranean diet. But as this was a “microbiome restoration” plan, I figured there would be some good news to come.

I was wrong.

As the title implies, many of the people who undertook the diet did lose weight and had improved physical and emotional well-being. That wasn’t so bad. What truly disappointed me was the lack of any experiments examining the nature of the microbial population in the gut. Considering the title of the document I figured there might be at least some evidence to show restoration had occurred. Yet there was nothing.

This paper clearly demonstrates the problem with what I like to call conceit.

The article was presented in a manner to convince readers the diet would improve one’s microbial population. One month of dieting would restore the number of friends and bystanders while reducing the number of foes. Yet, there was no experimental evidence to prove this transition occurred.

Which brings me to the most important question this paper didn’t answer:  Did the diet really restore the microbial balance? If you have read The Germ Files, you’ll realize the answer is no. Based on several experiments examining the components of this diet, these are the most likely mechanisms.

  • The caloric restrictions would have led to a reduction in proteins known to form fat;
  • The use of fibre would have led to an increase in intestinal bile and decreased cholesterol;
  • The lack of sugars would have led to increased fat oxidation and adipose tissue loss;
  • The polyunsaturated fats would reduce inflammation;
  • The polyphenols in vegetables and fruit would have helped to balance immune function;
  • The addition of fermented foods would have a short term beneficial impact on health.

As for the microbes? Most of these dietary components are anti-foe and pro-friends/bystanders. So one might expect a microbial shift during the change in eating habits. But unless an individual continues this regimen nonstop, the alteration is temporary. Within as little as three days, the foes would most likely return.

Being able to identify the conceit behind the concept is important because it will help gain a grasp on the real message instead of the one being presented.

This paper is only one example – although probably one of the most obvious I’ve seen in a while – of many we see both in the academic literature and on store shelves. Figuring out which are valid and which are not worth the effort can be difficult.

What I can tell you is that when I write, I concentrate on clarity, not conceit.

I want readers to understand the information in a way that makes sense with as little questions as possible. Those of you who have read my books will appreciate what I am saying. If you haven’t had the chance, I hope you give it a shot.

Finally, I usually don’t market my works as I let them stand for themselves and let the clicks and sales happen naturally. But when I see an article such as this diet paper appear in the literature and subsequently gain public attention, I feel the need to offer an alternative. If my words help to keep people from doubting the influence of microbes in our lives and the microbiologists who study them, I believe it’s well worth taking the risk of being called a conceited self-promoter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Putting the Poo in Swimming Pools…

Over the last few years, as summer approaches, I tend to receive requests to talk about a phenomenon that might make even the nastiest person go…

(Sorry, Dr. Evil…)

I’m talking, of course, about fecal matter in swimming pools.

I’m sure you may have heard about this occurrence in the news. You may have ignored the story thinking it is another attempt to keep us in the matrix of germophobia. But in this case, the threat is real. Or, to put it another way…

(Thanks, Morpheus)

Feces in pools happens and based on some pretty convincing evidence, it’s more common than you might think. If you don’t believe me, may I suggest you read this wonderful article on the likelihood of finding fecal bacteria and viruses in your local swimming environment.

Assessment of Enteric Pathogen Shedding by Bathers during
Recreational Activity and its Impact on Water Quality

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