Writing Exercise #15

If I had the power as the head of a funding agency, then I would like to fund a project that seeks to prove the correlation between infection of H. pylori and the increased immunity against asthma and allergies. I have read a few articles this term in relation to this topic, but they were only able to say that it’s correlated. I would like to endorse a project that will ultimately be able to prove that the infection of H. pylori in childhood provides increased immunity of asthma and allergies.

I have had asthma and allergies for as long as I can remember and it is truly unfortunate. The feeling is pretty miserable because I either have difficulty breathing due to asthma or unable to even keep my eyes open due to allergies. If the results from the project are able to prove that the infection of H. pylori in early childhood would provide increased immunity towards the development of allergies and asthma, then it would have a global effect. Qualified healthcare professionals such as physicians could administer small amounts of H. pylori to children in order to prevent the development of allergies and asthma. If the children face adverse effects from the H. pylori such as gastritis, then H. pylori could be eradicated with antibiotics in conjunction with probiotics. I believe that this is very important because a world without allergies or asthma will ultimately improve the health and happiness of the people.

Writing Exercise #14

  1. Noninfectious diseases influenced by microorganisms: asthma, allergies, GERD, gastric cancer, gastritis, obesity, depression, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, cancer.
  2. In reflection from writing exercise 1, I am able to easily identify many noninfectious diseases that are influenced by microorganisms. I have to admit that during the beginning of the term, I had to look up some diseases that were influenced by microorganisms. My response during week 10 is much more diverse in terms of the spectrum of diseases as I have learned that microbes have an effect on the entire body.

This course is probably one of the most useful course I have taken during my time here at Oregon State University. I really enjoyed learning about microbes and the effect it has on the human body. Week after week, just when I thought I had learned a lot about microbes, we discuss a new topic that I would never have thought to be related to microbes. One of the most important topics that I will take away from this course is definitely in regards to antibiotics and microbiota. As an aspiring physician, I will one day be able to prescribe medications such as antibiotics and learning the effects that it has on our microbes will definitely allow me to try and not over prescribe it as it also damages our gut microbes. When I prescribe antibiotics in the future, I will definitely recommend probiotics in conjunction to minimize some of the detrimental effects of the antibiotics on our gut flora.

Writing Exercise #13

Can Experiments detect differences that matter?

This question is significant in interpreting scientific literature because it asks one of the most important questions. Whether or not an experiment should be done is based on whether the results from the experiment will be useful.

Does the study show causation or correlation?

The difference between causation and correlation is immense when it comes to interpreting scientific literature. The ultimate goal is to come to the conclusion that two variables cause an effect. It is not as useful as stating this it is only a correlation because there is no definite proof if it is merely a correlation. A phrase that I have heard many times before is “correlation does not mean causation.”

What is the mechanism?

The mechanism explains the steps in how things happen. The process is able to pinpoint specifically how things interact. An example of a mechanism could be how H. pylori is contracted and end up inhabiting the stomach.

How much do the experiments reflect reality?

It is always good to learn and discover new things, especially in terms of science when it can be of great use. However, if an experiment does not reflect reality, then it is not as useful to humans because it will not happen outside of a laboratory setting.

Could anything else explain the results?

This is one of the more important questions in regards to scientific literature because it is imperative to identify what exactly causes the results. If by some chance researchers were unable to identify the real cause for something, then that would portray false information to the world.

I think the question “could anything else explain the result” is one of the most important when discussing controversy because you would want the actual explanation. Scientific literature would not be useful if the researchers were unable to identify the exact reason that explains results.

Writing Exercise #12

According to one of the articles from this week, different types of psychological stress are able to affect the composition of gut microbiomes. Some examples of stress include heat stress or maternal separation. There has been much prior research completed that indicates that the change in the gut microbes could affect our behavior. The phrase gut-brain axis refers to the role that gut microbiota play in event signaling between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system.

The microbial communities in the body could influence the brain and mental health stress because if microbial health is poor, it plays a role in the brain/mental health because of the holistic approach in the human body. A theory that I thought of after reading the article is that poor microbial health leads to the development of illnesses such as gastritis. The conditions and pain induced from poor microbial health could alter a person’s mood.

The brain and mental health states could influence microbial communities in the body because our body produces many different kinds of hormones when we are feeling a certain way.  Some examples of hormones produced by the human body are epinephrine, melatonin, and triiodothyronine. The hormones could cause an adverse effect on microbial health. For example, the hormone triiodothyronine is used to increase the metabolism in the body and this will have an effect on our microbial health as well. Our gut microbiomes can create neurotransmitters which will affect the brain and mental health state. Another study performed on mice showed that when microbes were transferred from normal mice to germ-free mice, it altered the brain chemistry and their behavior.

A study that has been done on people with clinical depression and taking mood-altering drugs show that the dysbiosis caused by the drugs could be mitigated by introducing beneficial gut microbiota. The relationship between brain/mental health and gut flora could promote human health because if you do things that will benefit your microbial health such as taking probiotics or avoiding antibiotic use, it will also cause a positive effect on mental health states due to their relationship.

Writing Exercise #11

I actually enjoyed doing the peer-review process because the two paper I was assigned to had some relevance to my own paper and it was interesting to see the opinion of others. The first essay that  I did a peer review on was very difficult because the author did not have the assignment completed for review. They only had an outline of what they plan to write and had random sources in a section of the paper that they plan on using when writing their essay. This made the peer review process very difficult to do because I did not think that the person even had a thesis or had an opinion formulated. They contrasted the different controversies and provided evidence that supports each of them but did not take a stance.  However, I enjoyed doing the peer review for the other paper because it was complete and coherent to read.

I actually found it difficult to critique others’ work because I did not want them to feel offended, but I am sure that my critique would overall improve the quality of their essay. When I saw powerful reasoning or a great use of a source, I would definitely let them know the positive effect that it put on their paper! There were many things that I learned while doing the peer review process. One of the authors included a header to each paragraph and I found that to be very useful as I would have an idea of what to expect prior to reading the next paragraph. I think I might use that idea as well in order to improve the clarity of my own paper.  Based on my reading on other people’s paper, whenever I use terminology that may be a little advanced for the reader, I will include a short description following it in order to eliminate uncertainties. Overall, I thought the peer review process was very helpful and I appreciate receiving feedback from others that will help improve on the quality of my paper.

Writing Exercise #10

The process of peer review may be lengthy and complicated but it can be broken down into simple steps. The purpose of peer review is to assess the quality of papers prior to publishing. Many researchers in relevant fields will assess the paper in terms of validity, originality, and significance. The first step in the peer review process is the submission of the work completed. Then the paper’s composition and arrangement is checked, but the quality of the paper is yet to be reviewed. Typically, the editor in chief for a certain scientific journal will check the paper to see if it is appropriate for publication in their journal. It could be rejected without a further review from others, but if everything goes accordingly, credited reviewers in relevant fields will be invited to assess your paper. The reviewers will comment on the paper and send in their final opinion to the journal whether or not it should be accepted or rejected. The editor in chief will then evaluate the reviews in order to determine if it should be published. Once a final decision is made, the author will be notified along with potential suggestions from reviewers that might improve the quality of the paper.

There are certainly many benefits to peer review. This process allows you to have the opportunity to receive critique from accredited people in relevant fields. This may offer opportunities to improve on the quality of the paper. The process of peer review also significantly improves the credibility of the results due to the extensive analysis from many others. A potential disadvantage in peer review includes bias. The reviewers assigned to your paper could be biased and may reject or disapprove of your work. Another disadvantage is that the peer review process is lengthy and will delay the results communicated in your work.

Writing Exercise #9

From the time of birth to this date, our actions dictate the changes to our microbiomes. Even as a fetus, our gut microbes are influenced by maternal diet during her time of pregnancy. Personally, some behaviors that I could relate to that contributes to decreased exposure to microbes includes a nondiverse range of foods, antibiotic use, highly sanitized home, and limited exposure to others. Growing up in a Chinese family and following our cultures, newborns and mothers are to stay at home for the first month. As a previous newborn baby with minimal exposure to microbes, staying home in a relatively clean environment significantly minimizes the chances of exposure to microbes. This is especially significant since we have had minimal exposure due to age. In terms of diet, almost all Chinese people eat white rice along with certain side dishes with each meal. This plays a role in decreased exposure to microbes due to nondiverse and consistently eating the same type of food. My history of taking antibiotics also plays a role that decreased certain microbes in me. Lastly, living in a highly sanitized household has decreased my exposure to microbes. My parents would clean the household and wipe down all surfaces with antibacterial wipes which kills microbes.

Based on the articles from this week, if I were to be exposed to more microbes as a child, I could possibly be able to not develop asthma or allergies. I find it really interesting despite going over 7 weeks of course materials on microbes, I still learn new things every week!

Writing Exercise #8

Step 1: Some of the most interesting things I have learned in this course is probably the gut microbiome. Prior to taking this course, I honestly had no idea what gut microbiomes are and their function. I find it amazing how even up to this date, researchers are unable to indefinitely say that gut microbiomes are correlated to developing certain diseases and they are able to suggest that. Learning so much about microbiomes has really made me reflect on my life choices up to this point. I have not done many things that harm my gut microbiome, but it has made me think about the time where I had to take antibiotics for an oral abscess. I did not know that antibiotics would adversely affect my microbiome and thought that it was the best medicine possible because it can get rid of infections.  I now understand why the dentist recommended me to take kefir in order to support my gut microbiome that was negatively affected by the antibiotics. I also did not expect this course to be so highly interactive in terms of discussion boards and reading many articles per week. This class has definitely improved my ability in reading scientific articles that I have always struggled with due to the abundance of information and lengthiness. Each week I learn something new about gut microbiomes and its correlation to many different aspects of health. I wonder what the upcoming weeks will have in store for me. I will probably be surprised at how much more I will be able to learn about the gut microbiome.

Step 2: antibiotics would adversely affect my microbiome.

Step 3: The phrase that I underlined was “antibiotics would adversely affect my microbiome.” I believe that I chose to underline this phrase is because I have experience taking a couple different antibiotics to fight different infections. I would have never known that antibiotics would have such a big impact in altering our gut microbiome. I have always known that it kills both good and bacteria, but I never gave it too much thought because I did not feel any negative side effects from taking antibiotics. I think it is very interesting how there are many many kinds of antibiotics that target specific bacteria. As bacteria adapt and develop certain resistance, are new antibiotics created that are able to fight off the new bacteria or do people just rely on taking different antibiotics to kill it? I always thought it was weird that people took probiotics because they are literally ingesting bacteria and bacteria has always been associated to be bad, but now I know that probiotics are very beneficial to our gut microbial communities which impacts our overall health.

Step 4: I think from this writing exercise, I have a better idea of what to write my final paper on. I plan on writing something along the lines of how different types of antibiotics affects the gut microbiome and whether or not people should ultimately rely on antibiotics to fight infections. I would first give an in-depth summary of antibiotics and their function. To prepare for this final paper, I will start to research articles that would provide relevant information on gut microbiome and antibiotics. I will do this while keeping in mind that half of my sources must be peer-reviewed.

Writing Exercise #7

There are many potential factors that the mother and infant could be exposed to that influences the colonization of the microbial community in the newborn infant.

When the fetus develops, all the nutrients it receives comes directly from the mother’s diet. If the mother makes positive choices when pregnant in terms of food, the developing microbiome in the fetus will also be positively affected. Consuming diverse foods and a variety of fruits high in fiber will ultimately benefit the fetus. Some choices that could negatively affect the infant include smoking, alcohol use, and antibiotics. Everything the pregnant mother consumes directly effects the baby as it derives nutrition from her diet, so pregnant mothers must have their baby in mind prior to making poor choices.

Some factors that could alter the infant’s gut microbiome include mode of delivery (c-section versus vaginal), diet (breastmilk versus formula), and illnesses. The mode of delivery plays a role in the development of the infant’s initial microbiota as the fetus is exposed to different things such as vaginal microbiome. Feeding breastmilk to the infant would introduce new bacteria to the newborn which will help diversify their microbial communities of which formula struggles to do. Lastly, illnesses play a crucial role in gut microbiome in infants. Fevers and infections that require medications and antibiotics will significantly alter the infant’s gut microbiome that has yet to fully develop.

In conclusion, everything a pregnant mother consumes directly effects the infant along with their developing gut microbiome. Infant diet and exposure to things that adversely affect the gut microbiome is very significant as the infant’s gut flora have yet to be stabilized.


Writing Exercise #6

To my knowledge, I have only taken antibiotics twice in my life. In both cases, I was prescribed a course of antibiotics in relation to dental issues. Growing up, I have had many dental problems due to poor dental hygiene that required follow up with my dentist. I was prescribed a course of Amoxicillin due to a dental infection. The dentist also highly recommended that I take Kefir while being on the antibiotics. At that time, I did not know why he recommended Kefir, but I was obedient with my doctor’s directions. However, the knowledge I gained from this course now allows me to understand why the doctor recommended Kefir. The prescribed antibiotic kills both good and bad bacteria and Kefir which includes many probiotics will help restore my gut microbiome after alteration.

In terms of my personal philosophy, I am a believer of medicine and aspiring to become an emergency physician so I have a positive outlook on antibiotic use. I know that antibiotics may cause many negative side effects and most importantly, adversely alters the gut flora that is correlated with the onset of many diseases such as gastritis or gastric cancer. Despite the known cons of antibiotic use, antibiotics are crucial and are the most effective treatment for infections. Antibiotics should only be used when deemed necessary to prevent altering the gut microbiome and potential for bacteria to develop resistance. If I was prescribed an antibiotic in the future to treat an infection, I would be happy to take it, but I would only take it in conjunction with synbiotics. Synbiotics are a combination of prebiotics and probiotics which will help restore the gut microbiome after damage from antibiotics.