Transcript: The Human Microbiome project has been so important because they developed a genetic testing to be able to look at what microbes are present in the gut, and what numbers, what part of the gut, and what their functions are, without them actually being alive. And that’s been a huge, huge advancement over the last 7 to 10 years that’s really allowed us to understand the gut much more. So we know at least a thousand-fold more about the gut in the last 3 to 5 years than we did a hundred years prior to this. It’s a huge leap. Mike: That’s crazy. Kiran: You know and as a microbiologist, I love it because to me bacteria are everything. And you know and I’ve studied bacteria quite a bit and finally bacteria is getting its heyday, you know, it’s getting its moment in the sun. People are really starting to understand how important the bacteria that lives in and on us are because of new advancement and so The Human Microbiome Project, the moment it started, I was a big follower of all of the research coming out of it, I’ve taken a couple of the postgraduate courses out of Colorado State University and all that on the microbiome itself, to keep up with the latest studies, and you know and I focused my work in nutritional field over the last few years in really understand the microbiome, the new understanding microbiome, and then developing nutritional therapies that fit the new mold. And that really, and we’re starting to see tremendous benefits from being able to do that. Mike: It seems like every week there’s a new big article that comes out. Even in mainstream media now that you know “microbiome may be affiliated with depression. May be affiliated with heart disease. May be affiliated with… And it’s like each week there’s a new thing…” Kiran: It’s fascinating. The amount of work that’s coming out and the connections we see we would’ve never thought, you know. We never knew that we produce more serotonin in the gut than we do in our brain. You know and so happiness is in a lot of ways controlled by the gut and the microbes in the gut rather than in your brain. So it’s quite fascinating and it’s probably gonna be one of the most important fields of study moving forward in the next 15 years. Now we had, 20 years ago we had The Human Genome Project, you know. The Human Genome Project was incredibly important to studying and understand what human genes exist, what they did, how they control the body and all that… Well one of the things they’re starting to understand with the human genome is that you may have a gene for something, but the gene has to still be turned on and off, you know. So what controls the turning on and off of genetics, that’s even more important than what genetics you actually hold. And now we’re starting to see that the microbole community actually plays a big role in that. And so, we’re really kind of bringing it all together to understand how we actually function. Michael: You’re referring to epigenetics? Kiran: Exactly yeah. Michael: We talk about that in one of the earlier units, they’ll have gotten a little brief overview of epigenetics and you know all the different factors that can play a role in gene expression, and I’ve read some, you know I’m not overly educated on it but I’ve read some of the interaction between bacteria and DNA and our own DNA or bacterial, almost teaching ourselves how to work properly. Is that pretty accurate? Kiran: Absolutely. So, you know the human, here’s an interesting fact… The Human Genome Project identified that we had about 25,000 genes in the human genome. Prior to actually sequencing the human genome, it was estimated that we probably have somewhere in the realm of 130,000 genes. Just looking at the number of biological functions that we can carry out. And so when we finally sequence the human genome we looked at “well there’s only 25,000 genes”, that left a huge question “well how do we perform the rest of our functions?” We don’t have enough genes to actually do all the things that we can do, and so now with The Human Microbiome Project we’re starting to understand that it’s almost 300 times more microbial DNA in our body than our own DNA. And our bodies and ourselves can actually use genes from bacteria that we take up, and we actually create proteins from. And the microbial DNA, the environment of DNA within our gut that is controlled by the microbiome is far vast in our own genome. So both the microbes turn on and off our genes, they supplement our genes by giving us DNA that we use, they actually produce metabolites, things like that that affect how our body replicates our genetics and turns on and off genes as well so… We now are getting a better understanding that these guys actually play a tremendous role at what we can actually do. Michael: It sounds almost like we should stop referring to us and them. Kiran: Yeah exactly. (Laughs.) Michael: It’s kinda like a joined effort. When I did a tendino symposium last year on small intestine bacterial overgrowth put on by Dr. Seebacher and Pimentel from Cedars-Sinai in LA, and they talked, Dr. Pimentel came on stage right at the beginning and said, “the first thing I wanna get across is, it’s very possible that human beings have evolved solely as a vehicle for bacteria. Kiran: Absolutely yeah. Michael: And that could be, that changes your perspective a lot when you think of it that way. Kiran: You know yeah it’s funny because we think of ourselves as such high order creatures. We’re very cognizant, have a lot of cognitive abilities, but, all of that, our brain as powerful as it is, is so easily controlled by the millions, trillions of microbes that are in our gut. There’s a great article that came out, I think sometime last year, the title of the article is My Bacteria Made Me Eat the Cupcake. Michael: (Laughs.) I’m writing that down. Kiran” Yeah it’s a fascinating article because it really goes into how the microbes within your gut create cravings for you. And you know most of it, it’s hard to fight the cravings. So as smart and cognitive as we are, our microbes can make us go to the store and buy a cupcake, if that’s what they feel like doing.]]>
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