BHS 323 Writing Assignment #3

Prompt: 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.

  1. Supplementation with prebiotics or probiotics. Probiotics and prebiotics work to foster an environment in which bacteria thrive. This would promote bacterial activity and would likely be beneficial to an individual’s health.
  2. Eating fermented foods. Fermented foods contain a wealth of bacteria and other organisms that work to do the fermentation. If the microbes living on the food can make it to your gut, they would increase the amount and diversify the bacteria in your gut. I think some bacteria would not survive your gastric juices, and make it to your gut. Fermented foods would either have a beneficial or neutral change to your health.
  3. Taking a short course of strong antibiotics for an acute illness or infection. Antibiotics are known for disrupting and killing off gut bacteria, both good and bad. Any decrease in number of good bacteria in your gut is not a good thing. This would damage microbial communities and is detrimental to your health.
  4. Taking long-term low-dose antibiotics for chronic conditions such as rosacea. I am actually not fully sure how this would impact microbial communities. Research suggests that taking low dose antibiotics (such as 40mg of Doxycycline) daily for extended periods of time decreases inflammation and does not harm microbial communities. I think it probably has an overall neutral effect, because decreasing inflammation in the body is a good thing, but any antibiotics long term seems harmful to good bacteria in your gut.
  5. Eating a diet high in sugar. Sugar can feed many bacteria that are harmful in your gut, making their numbers increase and leaving less room for “good” bacteria. This would lead to a detrimental effect in your overall health through a proliferation of bacteria in your gut. High sugar diets are also inflammatory, which can lead to “leaky gut syndrome” in which gut walls are penetrated, therefore disturbing the existing gut microbiome.
  6. Eating a diet high in fiber. Fiber is typically crucial for a healthy gut. It is slow or non-digestible, and many times, the gut bacteria feed off of the fiber present in the gut. I would think a diet high in fiber would increase communities of bacteria in the gut, which would increase overall health.
  7. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet. I know there are many health benefits associated with anti-inflammatory diets, but I’m not exactly sure the effect that would be had specifically on the gut microbiome. Usually diets high in sugar are more inflammatory, and diets high in fiber and good fats are less inflammatory, leading me to believe that an anti-inflammatory diet would be good for gut bacteria and would increase your overall health.
  8. Eating artificial sweeteners. Again, I assume artificial sweeteners are horrible for your gut and body overall. I can’t image that these chemical compounds used to simulate sugar are good for your gut bacteria. It would make sense that this would be overall harmful to one’s health.
  9. Taking chronic proton pump inhibitors. Proton pump inhibitors (such as Prilosec, or omeprazole) have a cumulative chronic inflammatory effect on the body. This would make them harmful to gut bacteria, and detrimental to overall health.
  10. Taking chronic NSAIDS. NSAIDS (such as ibuprofen) have a cumulative chronic inflammatory effect on the body and stomach if used for extended periods of time. I’m not sure how this would affect the gut bacteria, but chronic inflammation is harmful, so it would likely decrease the bacteria that are present, making them harmful to your health.
  11. Exposure to external factors such as dirt, animals, nature, public places. Microbes are present in communities in so many different places. Exposure to natural microbes found on plants, in the dirt, on animals, in pet saliva, and other public places throughout a lifetime likely diversity the bacteria found in the gut. 
  12. Being born via c-section or vaginally. Although this is not something the individuals themselves have control of, a mother often has some degree of control over how she will have a baby. Knowing that babies are exposed to more microbes when born through the vaginal canal, it might be beneficial to a baby’s health to make a birth plan that involves being born vaginally.
  13. Being breastfeed vs bottle fed with formula. Similar to above, a baby doesn’t have much choice in their method of feeding, but a mother, or parent (if able) has the choice whether to attempt to breastfeed their baby or use formulas and bottles. Exposure to a mother’s breastmilk probably exposes the baby to additional microbes that they might not get without breastmilk exposure. If true, this would probably increase the health of the baby.

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