In our last email we looked at the coral reefs, the tropic rain forests of the oceans, with its myriad of individual coral polyps as the composition of the reefs. Each polyp is a symbiotic creature that depends not only on its own polyp cells to work properly, but its very survival is contingent on its symbiotic neighbors, the algae and bacteria, living within its tissues, conferring survival benefits to the polyp. Without them they die!
How does the reef polyps’ way of life and symbiotic survival relate to us?
Our body is made up of 10 trillion human eukaryote cells. Beginning with the union of sperm and egg at conception, exponentially dividing cells differentiate into various tissues; systems designed to perform specific functions, united together by genomic design for the survival of the human species.
But is that all of who we are?
There are more than a 100 trillion organisms around us; on our skin, in our respiratory tract and urogenital tract, within our gastrointestinal tract; non-human cells from the microbial world of bacteria, fungi and protozoa. They have evolved with us over the millennia, participating in our survival and in many cases dependent on our survival, for their survival. This is the world of the microbiome. And they are an integrated part of who we are.
In 2003, a milestone in the world of human medicine was achieved decades ahead of its scheduled time: after thirteen years of focused worldwide research, beginning in 1990, the mapping of the total human genome, all 3 billion chemical base pairs that make up the blueprint for making and determining the human body, was completed. How was this accomplished with such speed? Through what I term as the method of cooperation-in-discovery.
The National Institute of Health, through the Human Genome Project under the leadership of Francis Collins, made the decision to make their research an “open process”, posting their genomic discoveries over the Internet, inviting other researchers and institutions worldwide to cooperate in discovery. The world of genomic scientists came together; it became a global think-tank for the mapping of the human genome. The mapping was completed, ushering in the era of genomic medicine.
But an interesting thing happened as result of the new cooperation-in-discovery: on the way to figuring out our human genome and its relevance to our medical health, the possibility of figuring out the complex relationship of the microbiome with our human cells became a reality. What is the human microbiome and its relevance to us?
Our human body is an amalgam of human cells and microbial cells, all must function in a healthy synergistic way for our maximum health to be achieved. This is an expansion in concept of who we are and what we are made of. This recognition of the importance of the microbiome has led the NIH to the establishment of the Human Microbiome Project with the goal of typing 100 organisms that are normal commensals of a health human gut. Again, it will be an open process, cooperation- in-discovery, involving scientists from all over the world.
In the coming emails we will dive into the microbiome: the ecology of the human gut, and examine what is known and what is not, helping us to separate fact from fiction, science from marketing. As always, the links I include in these emails under Green Facts are very special. Be sure and check them out.
Clinical Note: Protect our children – The brain is the center of our universe, when it goes we go. The gut is known as the second brain, with more nerve tissue intimately associated with our gastrointestinal tract than our spinal cord. The gut is also the “Port of Infection” for many diseases to enter our body. The Triple Berry Probiotic is designed specifically for children, to protect both neurological centers: the brain and the gut. Each teaspoon contains high actives, freeze-dried, whole red raspberries, sweat cherries and blueberries for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial power, and an 8 billion count of pedigreed strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum to protect the port of entry, the GI tract membrane, and to aid digestion.
Green Depot checks every product for five basic environmental benefits: to improve indoor air quality, conserve resources, stimulate the local economy, save energy, and responsible manufacturing. Although Green Depot is very new, it is the green revolution that the global community must enact on to bring about positive social change and help stop the de-evolution process. How can we each change a few habits and practice green? http://www.greendepot.com/greendepot/