How Ancient Human Poop Exposes Modern Disease And Gut Bacteria Link

Old Poop Offers Insight Into The Connection Between Modern Disease and Gut Bacteria 

When was the last time you sat up in bed thinking of the possible link between modern disease and gut bacteria? modern-disease-and-gut-bacteria

How often do you find yourself deep in thought concerning the gastrointestinal health of man’s first ancestors? I would venture to guess most of you reading this article would answer “NEVER”. That’s ok, I am pretty sure that I would probably have said the same thing if I had chosen any other another field of study during my early college days.

The bacteria located on and within our bodies plays many very important roles in our lives. If your bacteria friends become sick or are killed then you will become sick and could even die. Researchers have observed time and again that there is a very strong link between modern disease and gut bacteria health.

Research has shown antibiotic medication can cause devastating and irreversible damage to the good bacteria that are located on and in your body, the bacteria within your intestines is known as our body’s gut microbiome.

The damage and destruction caused by antibiotics can further affect your immune system, which can affect your body’s ability to deal with infections, showing once again the link between modern disease and gut bacteria health.

Antibiotics are also known to destroy the GI tract barrier system that is suppose to keep bad stuff out of your body and blood stream! Antibiotics cause damage to that barrier system that is known as “Leaky Gut Syndrome”.  The intestinal lining is a barrier to keep things out of your system, much the same way as the Great Wall Of China was built to keep people and things out of China, however antibiotics are very destructive and act as a battering ram that has busted holes in your Great Wall Of China gut lining, allowing the many enemies of your good health free access into your body.

This damage to the intestines will also affect your ability to absorb vital nutrients from the food you eat resulting in an inadequate supply of fuel for your bodily functions. This could negatively affect your immune system which would then compromise your body’s  ability to fight the invading antigens.

Research has shown how the bacteria in our GI tract can influence the types of food we crave to eat, other research has shown that taking certain probiotic bacteria helps to prevent obesity.

Wouldn’t it make sense that knowing what bacteria were present within our ancestors GI tracts would surely be of a great value to our scientific knowledge concerning the study of the link between modern disease and gut bacteria?

This is no easy task,  first of all, it requires a heavy dose of luck in order for researchers to find some very old, and I mean anciently old, yet preserved, human poop so they may examine the contents and catalog what bacteria, etc., made up the microbiome of early man.

Secondly, we would need to compare the results from those findings against the microbiota within modern man, which is easy enough to do… except for the fact that it would also require finding a group of people, such as certain isolated native tribes in places such as Africa, India and South America that have had little to no contact with the outside world.

These tribal people have been found to have microbiomes that are quite similar to the microbiomes of our very ancient ancestors. They also do not suffer with any of our modern diseases, further showing the link between modern disease and gut bacteria.

Scientist then use the results from these tribal people as a sort of surrogate for those ancient ancestors that are no longer available for such comparisons. By comparing the different types of microbiomes with their overall health to the microbiome and health of people living within what we call the industrialized counties, we are able to observe the important influence our body’s bacterial microbiota wields regarding our overall health and well being and that there is a powerful link between modern disease and gut bacteria health.

Upon bacterial DNA testing it was found that the microbiomes associated with ancient type cultures were quite different when compared to modern man’s microbiota.

4 questions whose answers show what effect modern disease and gut bacteria have on our lives:

  1. Have the changes observed within man’s microbiome been associated with any positive life improving health benefits?
  2. Has the bacterial change within the gut been shown to have a little if any positive or negative impact on modern man’s overall health?
  3. Is there an observable negative impact on modern man’s health because of the changes observed within the body’s microbiome?
  4. Do changes seen within our body’s bacterial landscape contribute to the modern epidemic of chronic inflammatory disease conditions?

As luck would have it, research scientists have been able to study and compare different microbiomes from many a varied people as well as from many different epochs within man’s history on this earth. What has been revealed thus far is very exciting and strengthens the link between modern disease and gut bacteria.

To begin with, people living in westernized, urban environments host different gut microbes than people in remote, undeveloped parts of the world. Children in remote regions of Burkina Faso (A West African Nation), for instance, have been shown to harbor bacteria alien to the guts of Europeans.  A similar pattern has been found in comparing the microbiomes of rural people from Malawi and Venezuela to those of U.S. residents.

What about our ancestors, any luck rounding up some old, yet testable fecal matter? As a matter of fact scientists have had the privilage of testing some really old fecal matter found within an ancient cave dwelling deserted 1,400 years ago. These findings have shed new light on our shifting internal ecosystems. Genetic analysis of the microbial contents of these ancient human feces from La Cueva de los Chiquitos Muertos, an archaeological site on the Rio Zape in Durango, Mexico, shows that these long-gone people carried microbial communities similar to those of present-day residents of remote rural areas.

Using a new bioinformatic tool called SourceTracker, which compares the community of microorganisms in a sample to that of a known source, the researchers showed that the gut microbiomes found in the Rio Zape samples also matched well with that of Ötzi the Iceman, a mummy preserved in the permafrost of the Tyrolean Alps for roughly 5,200 years.

But the samples also showed some notable differences from the microbial communities carried by most people today. For instance, the Rio Zape people had abundant bacteria in the genus Prevotella, which is associated with a diet rich in carbohydrates—and also common in the microbiomes of people from remote rural areas in Africa and Latin America. Modern, westernized people who eat a lot of animal fat and meat tend to have gut microbiomes dominated instead by Bacterioides.

“Life in urban environments, with antibiotics and advanced sanitation, represents a fundamental change in our relationship with microbes,” says Cecil Lewis, an anthropologist at the University of Oklahoma and coauthor of the new study. “For the most part, we’ve benefited from that change, but it appears we’re also increasing our risk for allergies and other inflammatory diseases. The best way to understand this situation is by studying the ancestral state of the human microbiome.”

“It’s mind-blowing that the signature of ancient microbiomes can be preserved in the archeological record for thousands of years,” says Brian Kemp, a molecular anthropologist at Washington State University. The new findings, he says, offer a window into the biology of the distant past, into now-rare but perhaps still viable relationships between humans and microbes and shows the link between modern disease and gut bacteria health.

One example is the spirochete bacterium Treponema, carried by the ancients of Rio Zape and by people living today in remote communities of Africa and Latin America. Some researchers hypothesize that Treponema may help rural people digest their high-cellulose diet and protect them from inflammatory diseases of the colon that are common among modern urban populations. “This species has disappeared from the microbiomes of modern urbanites,” notes Lewis, but seems to be “a common microbe for people with more traditional lifestyles.”

Some recent studies, including a pioneering look at microbes preserved in dental plaque on ancient human teeth, suggest that human gut and oral microbiomes have become less stable and diverse since the domestication of plants and animals and especially since the Industrial Revolution, setting the stage for a rise in inflammatory diseases. “Humans are super organisms—the bacterial cells in our bodies outnumber the human cells by ten to one,” Lewis says. “It’s no surprise that [microbial shifts caused by] farming, antibiotics, and industrialization have had some cost to our health.” How many studies will it take before medicine wakes up to the fact that modern disease and gut bacteria are intimately connected?

“Understanding these ancient microbiomes may provide some insight into how our physiology and pathophysiology has changed,” says Indi Trehan, a pediatrician at Washington University and coauthor of recent research on gut microbiomes in remote isolated people versus developed societies. “These are still early days in understanding this field—and even earlier still in applying the information provided by studies of ancient humans’ microbiomes—but I am … optimistic that we have much to learn from these studies that may be useful for our present-day problems.”

One potential example of how studies of ancient human microbiomes may eventually aid the treatment of modern diseases involves Clostridium difficile. This toxin-producing bacterium affects some patients who have been treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics, depleting their normal intestinal flora. A steady increase in C. difficile cases and evidence of antibiotic resistance make this illness a cause for concern. Infusion of feces from healthy donors has been shown to restore microbial diversity and cure C. difficile infection much more successfully than conventional treatment with antibiotics. Says Lewis, “Maybe down the road the study of ancient microbiomes will contribute to treating C. difficile and other modern illnesses in a better, more informed way.”


Edited version of original story found HERE: