writing exercise #15

If I was in charge of a funding agency like the NIH, I would look into funding projects which explore the idea products which have the main purpose of killing 99.9% of bacteria. After learning about how there are many bacteria who are actually good, but end up getting washed away due to different product use, it is important to revise this idea of 99.9%. The ideal bacterium in the body and their compositions will still need to be explored, but there also needs to be a new way of cleaning. Whether this is cleaning your body or your homes. People are scared when they hear the word bacteria because it has a negative connotation. By stripping our environments of all bacteria is more harmful than helpful and more research needs to be done. Funding projects that focus on this will better the wellbeing and future of the human microbiome.

writing exercise #14

My list: Heart diseases, cancers, diabetes, obesity, IBS, other GI diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, oral disease which leads to other issues, Crohn’s disease, some mental illnesses.

I was able to list more diseases than in the first week of the course. I never realized how much the gut microbiome community can affect one’s overall health. For me personally, I found that the IBS and oral health were the most interesting for me. As a pre-dental student, of course it’s interesting to me to see how oral health can affect the whole body. Most people don’t realize how important it is to have good oral hygiene. The IBS and fecal transplant therapy relationship was just an interesting topic in general. Who would’ve thought that you could just add good bacteria and that could solve a lot of problems that antibiotics couldn’t do in the long run.

writing exercise #13

Can experiments detect differences that matter?

Finding differences matters because if one variable changes or if anything slightly changes then results may be altered. These changes can determine whether a study is valid or not.

Does the study show causation or correlation?

Causation is shown by one directly affects the other. Shows that there’s a relationship, but doesn’t state how. The reverse was not explored. The effects of poor health and the gut microbiome was not looked at as it should’ve been. Causation is important because it shows us why something happens and then supports that. Correlation is how things are related, but without real reason.

What is the mechanism?

The mechanism shows the relationship between variables. Mechanisms explain why and how things occur in a study.

How much do experiments reflect reality?

If experiments are replicated to reality as best as possible (such as the same environments and such) then experiments do really well for providing new information to the science community. If details are not as the environments that the study is focusing on, then it would not be very accurate. It also would not lead to any useful information.

Could anything else explain the results?

If there are other aspects that are providing validity to the results then that would mean that variables may not be as controlled as they should be or there are other variables that are not taken into account at the beginning. If there are many things that could explain the results which was not the original target then that would mean the experiment is not as accurate and needs to be refined.

These questions all are important when discussing controversy because we need to be able to determine if there are other ways results could occur other than the proper outcome. I think the question that matters the most is mechanisms because altering these just slightly can yield very different results.

writing exercise #12

I always get nervous when there’s a peer review because I want to do a good job, but I get a little afraid that I might not do that. Some times I can get a little too critical and sometimes I’m really tired so I could’ve missed something.

I felt good about reading someone else’s article. I was curious to see what people were interested in writing about because I feel like that can tell you a lot about a person – in a good way of course. While I was reading someone else’s paper, there were questions that I asked them and now that I asked those questions I also asked the same ones for me. I was wondering if maybe they would ask the same thing. I also considered the structure of their papers and that made me reflect on my own.

writing exercise #11

The process of peer review is quite simple. The purpose of a peer review is to determine whether the paper is up to standards before it is published. The paper is read by multiple people in the field and multiple factors will be looked at. Often times fact checking, originality, and the purpose are taken into account. Papers will almost always get rejected and the author will have to take the edits into consideration in order for it to get published. Sometimes the submitting and revision process happens multiple times versus just only once. Eventually the paper can be published!

There are many pros to the peer review process. It allows the paper to become stronger and it allows the authors to see other perspectives that they may not have considered originally. Also, this gives the paper more credibility when it is peer reviewed. The on major con to the process is that the authors are known and that can cause those who are reviewing to have a bias when giving back feedback.

writing exercise #10

Microbial communities are capable of influencing the brain and mental states. One thing is stress on the body. Stress has been proven to lead to depression or anxiety. Scientists have discovered that this stress might actually alter the gut microbial community. Not only can external factors cause this, but also within the body such as hormonally. Neurotransmitters can cause the release of these hormones and this can alter gene expression in the brain which then causes a change in the bacterial community.

writing exercise #9

There are multiple ways you could decrease exposure such as eating less food that have microbial communities in them. For instance, reduce your intake of yogurt or kimchee since these are fermented foods which contain a healthy amount of microbes. Washing your hands properly will reduces this for obvious reasons. Also, depending on how you shower and bathe. Rinsing your body versus scrubbing with soap until it’s foamy can decrease your exposure. Your environment, depending on where you work or how you live. You might be very clean versus one of your friends who is not as clean. That has an effect on your microbiome.

writing exercise #8

Since it relates to my future career, I am interested in learning more about microbes and oral health as well as how that can spread to affect the body. We touched on this a bit this term and in high school I wrote a paper explaining why oral health was important and the microbial composition came up. At the time I didn’t know what that meant and now I have a better understanding, so I’m going to dive deeper into that. I am also really curious about how the way we take care of our mouths has an effect. I took biological anthropology last term and my professor briefly mentioned how mouthwash and toothpaste is wiping out bacteria that we actually need, so I’d be curious to see if I could find more information on that and incorporate that into my paper. 

It could be what we eat or how we take care of our teeth (ex. Toothpaste, mouth wash etc) and alters the microbiome composition in our mouths and potentially the rest of the body. As someone who wants to go into the dental field, it’s important for me to understand this and how this could affect my future patients. Also, with more research, is there a way we could change the way oral care products are made to allow more beneficial bacteria to stay in the oral space instead of getting wiped out everyday? Are there foods that we could eat to help prevent diseases caused by oral microbe composition? 

I think to begin preparing my paper, I would need to start broad about why this is an important topic. Also, not everyone believes that oral health is important, so I would want to explain why I think it’s important and why people should care. I would then try to dive deeper into understanding what microbes in our mouths cause certain outcomes and how we could potentially change that. Maybe if I find the right information I could propose a potential change in products or highlight products that are doing good things for our oral bacteria composition. 

writing exercise #7

I would take antibiotics when there’s an infection that I’m battling. When I was younger, I would get ear infections quite frequently and I was prescribed amoxicillin. I think that’s the one that also takes like bubble gum… Anyways, most recently I had to experience swollen tonsils and lymph nodes, and that’s a sign of your body fighting off an infection. The swollen tonsils made it really difficult to eat and potentially could cause problems with breathing since it caused my airway to decrease. I was prescribed penicillin for this. This was the first time I had taken penicillin and I was really nervous because I know a lot of people are allergic and I really didn’t want to find out the hard way. Every time there’s infection and antibiotics are prescribed, I take them because that’s always what I’ve known. I don’t think I would ever not take the medication because it obviously helps your body recover quicker than maybe if you were to let it figure itself out naturally. I definitely understand that there can be some side effects to taking antibiotics such as getting another illness or even bacterial resistance, but I think with even that in mind, it’s worth it to treat the infection. The other outcomes in my mind are less likely to occur and if that were to occur there could be treatment to solve that. 

writing exercise #6

I know that kombucha is good for gut health, but I never really looked too deep into it and why it’s “so healthy” for you. I try to drink it often, but it’s only whenever I feel like I haven’t been eating very healthy recently and this will help me feel better. This probably doesn’t make that much sense, but I have to admit that’s what I do! I do actually enjoy drinking kombucha so a lot of times it’s just for the taste. Most of the foods that I eat that do have an effect on gut health, I eat just because I like that food or I’m in the mood for that. For instance, yogurt. I don’t eat it a lot because of the health benefits, I eat it because I want a quick and easy breakfast. One of the foods I forget that does play a role in gut microbiota is kimchi which we eat frequently in my household like BBQ for dinner. Now that I’ve taken this class, I want to be more mindful of what I am eating not just for the taste but because of the benefits that could come out of it!