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Writing Exercise #13

In W. P. Hanage’s article, he discusses the importance of five key questions when interpreting scientific literature:

  • Can experiments detect differences that matter?
  • Does the study show causation or correlation?
  • What is the mechanism?
  • How much do experiments reflect reality?
  • Could anything else explain the results?

Explain the significance that each of these questions have on interpreting scientific literature. Which is most helpful when discussing controversy, and why?

That’s why you experiment, no? The whole point of doing experiments is to separate by different factors so you can see different outcomes. Sometimes data is insignificant. I guess it depends on the experiment.

Causation is when one thing causes the other thing and correlation is when two things occur at the same time but not necessarily if they cause the other the occur or vice versa. If you’re performing a study, you’re trying to see how and what the outcomes are about. So it’s important to know the causation before the correlation would even matter or be significant.

Understanding the mechanism will provide answers about how to manipulate the process any any given step in the middle. The mechanism helps us to understand the method of how things comes about. It is how we learned cures for many diseases because the mechanism is where we’ve been able to insert changes or alterations in order to prevent further action.

Scientists go above and beyond to make their research emulate reality so that the results will actually be applicable to their real life subjects.

There will always be outliers. There will always be things we can’t explain. This is the anonymity and magic of science. It is incredibly complex, often beyond our comprehension.

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Writing Exercise #12

Describe how microbial communities in the body could influence brain and mental health states. Then, describe how brain and mental health states could influence microbial communities in the body. In what ways might these promote health and/or disease?

Gut health is connected to diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation. All of these symptoms are uncomfortable and undesirable. Being sick has a negative impact on mental health – it can be embarrassing and make you feel like disconnecting from other people. That is more of a social factor but I do believe that the precursor emotional components stem off of the physical discomfort that accompanies being sick with gastrointestinal issues.

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Writing Exercise #11

It was weird going through someone else’s paper. They both obviously put lots of time into making it accurate and connecting research to their idea. I didn’t want to be too critical because I respect the work they did to put that together. I tried to give constructive feedback and comments.

I gave the same feedback to both people and that was to add an opener and a closer paragraph because as an observer, I needed help understanding the main point and then the closer would have really helped to tie-up the final thoughts.

I will make sure to add those to my final review paper.

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Writing Exercise #10

Peer review is to add credibility to research. It gives the opportunity of other scientists to review the research and fact check so that when it is reviewed by other people, they have more confidence in its accuracy and the fact that many people have looked through the material with a fine toothed comb.

A con of peer review is if the reviewer is not an expert or inept in that particular field, so their feedback could be inaccurate or out of context.

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Writing Exercise #9

List and describe as many changes in human behaviors as you can think of that contribute to decreased exposure to microbes.

Hand washing

Cover your cough

Stay home or away from people when you feel sick

Use hand sanitizer

Cough into your elbow, not your hands

Sanitize surfaces that you touch – try not to cross contaminate items

Clean off your phone and surface items

Cook your food completely using heat

Don’t consume expired food products

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Writing Exercise #8

This writing exercise is designed to help you begin to think about a topic you are interested in pursuing for your final essay project in the course. 

Step 1: Free write: What are some of the most interesting or surprising things you’ve learned and/or want to learn more about, in regards to microbes and human health? Set a timer for 5 minutes and type out your response. Please don’t edit or worry about correct grammar/spelling/sentence structure… just write!

I have never thought so much about how our actions and food decisions affect our overall health. The gut really is the second brain. The research we’ve read and uncovered shows so many ways that the balance in our guts affects so many other systems and processes in our body. We need to have a balance in our body so that other processes can work efficiently. The brain depends on activity functioning normally. It’s really a complex process, mores than I ever imagined.

Complex Process –

We’ve learned that there is a lot of communication between the gut environment based on the balance there is inside our guts. If the gut balance is off, other processes won’t be triggered or vice versa, meaning some processes will be overly triggered. I think the response to this situation is when we have gastrointestinal symptoms like heartburn and diarrhea. Some people’s body’s just can’t process or tolerate certain foods and we should learn to be conscious of the signals our body is telling us how to help be healthy.

In the vein of the gut as our second brain, a lot of people have connect mental health aspects to the flora and fauna of our gut environment. In my final paper, I want to dive further into whether or not or how they are connected. My sister is a nurse and her thoughts on this topic are that she’s worked in nursing homes and people with memory loss have “behaviors” when their stomach has issues or some of those symptoms like a UTI or diarrhea. That makes me think there is some connection.

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Writing Exercise #7

There are many opportunities for a small fragile baby to become exposed to harmful viruses and bacteria. They depend on their mother for immunity and protection while in the womb. That being said, babies are not 100% immune to those kinds of thing.

A baby’s gut environment is going to be affected by their mother. Whether or not a mother feeds their baby breast milk or formula will affect their diet and their delicate microbiota.

The mother’s diet will affect the breast milk too. This is how some kids develop different tastes in food and different natural ability to tolerate and process different foods.

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Writing Exercise #6

Describe your personal philosophy about how and when you have taken, or would take, antibiotics. What experiences or prior knowledge do you have that shaped that personal philosophy?


When I was younger, I definitely took antibiotics when I was sick. I would absolutely take antibiotics and I do feel strongly about compliance. My mom is a nurse and I constantly hear about how difficult it is for patients and our world community (actually) that people don’t always take antibiotics as they’re prescribed. 

People usually stop taking the medication when they start to feel better, but the infection still rages on and they should continue to completion. This also helps with reducing the potential for mutation and antibiotic resistance which has impact on our world community. 

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Writing Exercise #5

What choices do you make in terms of food/nutrition/product use and consumption that may have an impact on your microbial communities? Consider choices that are intentional, and choices that are perhaps non-intentional.

I think there are many more non-intentional choices than intentional choices in this department. I do know that probiotics are present in yogurt and lots of people use that for that reason. I also consume yogurt, but I hadn’t consciously chosen that because of probiotics. I also eat a lot of fruit and protein shakes. 

I know you don’t want to drink too much coffee because of how acidic it is, so I do try not to drink too much coffee.

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Writing Exercise #4

Parsonnet J. The incidence of Helicobacter pylori infection. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 1995 ;Suppl 2:45-51.

(1) Julie Parsonnet in her research entitled “The incidence of Helicobacter pylori infection” (1995) asserts that acute infection of helicobacter pylori usually goes undetected and also that it tends to be more prevalent in children possibly due to lack of personal hygiene standards. (2) Parsonnet also claims that although the prevalence is higher in children than adults, the adults have likely had Helicobacter pylori introduced since they were children and they are just better at masking symptoms of an acute infection. (3) The purpose of this article is to describe her hypotheses around the gut environment and point to occurrences of peptic ulcers which are often very painful. When allowed to perpetuate without treatment, this condition can lead to stomach cancer and irreversible damage to the lining of the stomach. (4) Parsonnet established her claim as a respected scholar at Stanford University where she continues her research as an epidemiologist specializing in gastrointestinal infections.