Writing Exercise #3

Brainstorm a list of behaviors that an individual could engage in that could cause changes to a gut microbial community. For each behavior you list, discuss how that behavior could change the microbial community, and what potential health impacts (beneficial, detrimental, neutral) that change could be for the individual’s health.

Eating yogurt or probiotics – Beneficial, will improve gut flora and help with regular elimination.

Not drinking water – Detrimental, will cause bloating and inability to remove waste from the body as waste will store in kidneys, unable to leave.

Eat a lot of sugar – Detrimental, will create a highly acidic internal environment pushing the scales too far in one direction and encouraging more growth of certain bacterial microorganisms that really should be kept in balance with those that grow in a more alkaline environment.

Being on antibiotics – Neutral, depending on what’s happening in your body. If you need antibiotics to treat an infection, then antibiotics are necessary and you should treat that situation and then afterwards ingest probiotics to return your gut flora to normal. Use this strategy sparingly.

Binge drinking – Detrimental, too much alcohol causes the stomach to make too much gastritis which can lead to indigestion and heartburn. In the gut, it can cause too much of certain bacteria to grow and not enough of others to have a healthy balance.

Sedentary lifestyle – Detrimental, exercise helps to boost movement in the body which includes elimination. Sitting around in the same position makes it hard to stay active in it’s own procedures. Exercise can help reduce gut inflammation.

Smoke cigarettes – Detrimental, smoking contributes to heartburn and GERD. It creates an environment in the body that is imbalanced. The effects cause the body to be too acidic and an imbalance in bacteria produced because of it.

Writing Exercise #2

Women have likely heard about HPV. The basics covered were that it was a series of injections and women have no symptoms, at least the noticeable symptoms of mouth sores in herpes. HPV is a disease transmitted through “close contact” and strains 16, 18, 31, and 45 are recognized as “high risk” HPVs because their infection causes roughly 80% of cervical cancer. Because these strains carry a higher risk, this is where our research should hone focus. A new treatment that will prevent the exacerbation of HPV into cervical cancer would largely be recognized as a medical miracle, especially as sexually transmitted diseases are still prevalent in society.

Strains 33, 35, 39, 51, 52, 56, 58, and 59 are also known to contribute to cancer or at least associated with cervical cancer but not at all close to the “high risk” of the others mentioned.

An interesting fact to note is that HPV was not recognized to be cancer-causing all the way up until 2008.

Currently there is vaccine available for strains 16 and 18, so to focus new research, I would suggest funds be directed towards developing vaccine for the remaining high risk strains of HPV – 31 and 35.

Writing Exercise #1

Non-infectious diseases caused by microorganisms

Non-infectious: A disease that is not likely to be transmitted person-to-person.

Microorganism: A microscopic organism, fungi, bacteria, or virus.

There are many common non-infectious diseases which immediately come to mind but whether or not they are caused by a microorganism is less clear. Initially, I thought of the big ones we talk about in healthcare all the time; COPD, CHF, and cancer.

Microorganism may cause COPD if it is a secondary infection that leads to weakness or susceptibility to other infection. CHF is the same way, it cannot be transmitted, it is not infectious. Cancer is an opportunistic infection and often happens after another infection has weakened our immune system, so in that sense, it would be caused by a microorganism.

A whole host of autoimmune diseases are both caused by microorganisms and not infectious. Genetic defects are also caused by microorganisms and not infectious. It helps that I just finished the course Human Virology because we studied so many viruses that caused genetic defects – Multiple Sclerosis, Myocarditis, Diabetes, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Myasthenia Gravis, and Guillan-Barre Syndrome. These are all caused by an infectious disease and are noninfectious, themselves.

An important detail to remember is the opportunistic infections, both bacterial, viral, or fungal infections or sepsis can cause other diseases.