Highlights from #germchat

hashtagI had a fun time today on twitter #germchat discussing the human microbiome. Check out a Storify transcript here.  Here are some of my favorite things I learned:

How do oral probiotics affect health in places other than the gut? According to @DrJamesVersalov, they provide molecules that circulate through the bloodstream and “act like hormones”: vitamins, amino acids, etc.

Is it bad to be sanitizing our hands all the time? @DrJamesVersalov says handwashing avoids spreading infections, but established skin microbiota survives washing. @JATetro adds that sanitizer (as tested in his lab) actually does kill all the bacteria.

Is our idea of beneficial probiotics skewed toward certain species? @JATetro says most are fermenters (as found in kimchee, kombucha, sauerkraut) and their byproducts, like sugars and amino acids, are “buffers” between bugs and our immune system. @peterdilaura¬† agrees with my suspicion that there is “big potential impact from low abundant harder-to-culture bugs”. @JATetro says he found a microbe in the subway that he was asked to culture for probiotic potential.

Here’s an intriguing idea: @peterdilaura suggests we get “sub-therapeutic dosing” of antibiotics from food.

The concentration of probiotics matters, says @JATetro, and it may not be as simple as eating yogurt, as in the case of Danone’s health claims.

We are only 10% us: where did that count come from, that established bacterial cells outnumber our own cells 10-to-one? @bernat_olle says to check out Savage, 1977.

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