Illustration of Enterobacteriaceae bacteria. Individual bacterium are shown as pink rod shapes with multiple hair-like flagella used for motility. The Enterobacteriaceae family contains over a hundred species including Shigella, Klebsiella, Salmonella and Escherichia coli and can be found in animal guts, water and soil. Some Enterobacteriaceae members are animal and plant parasites. Photo: Getty Images
Human fecal remains reveal that today’s human gut microbiota is very different from a thousand years ago (and that’s not good news).
As part of the natural cycle of food, defecation accompanies living beings: it is the end point of the passage of nutrients through the organism. It appears that the digestive system of human beings has not undergone structural modifications, as revealed by the remains of piles of fecal matter found in Utah and Mexico. However, the microbiota and natural defenses have been transformed — perhaps not towards the best path.
What is the microbiota and what is it for?
Microbiota is the diversity of billions of bacteria and yeasts that are an integral part of the human body and form colonies in the gutand other sites. The latest research shows that keeping this diversity in balance can be a deciding factor for a myriad of human health issues, including the immune response and how the body fights infection.
A recent study published in Science reveals that the microbiota has accompanied humans for centuries. The discovery of ancient piles of poop reveals, however, a factor that scientists had not considered: the microbiota changed over time.
It could be that current Health measures, drugs and food processing are closely related to this drastic change in intestinal flora. Coprolites —or Stools Preserved For Years— Give Information unexplored before, Regarding Human Biological change as a root of these New Conditionings and Consumption Patterns.
A Massive Bacterial Extinction Event
According to Stanford University biologist Justin Sonnenburg, the Fecal Remains that have been preserved reveal Relevant Information in terms of How Human Metabolism has changed cn The Last Millennium. In fact, the intestines have suffered an “extinction event” he said.
By this he means that dozens of species have been lost. Implicitly, the diversity of protection that the intestines have today is significantly less than it was a thousand years ago. According to Aleksandar Kostic, lead author of the study and a microbiologist at Harvard Medical School, “These are things that we don’t get back.”
This research questions whether the vast supply of ultra-processed drugs and foods is actually being beneficial to human beings at an evolutionary level. To begin with, the significant reduction in microbiota is not a good sign in this area. On the contrary, it seems that we are becoming more dependent on pharmaceuticals than ever.
An Evolutionary Resistance to Medicines
Among the most relevant comparisons made in the study, scientists realized that today we have a particular resistance to antibiotics. Due to the lack of technology and scientific advance, human beings of a thousand years ago did not have it. On the contrary, they developed natural defenses to certain diseases – when they did not die trying.
Today, the excessive and irresponsible consumption of drugs and ultra-processed foods, as well as meticulous health measures, deprive us of that possibility of natural defense. In other words, we have lost microscopic helpers against certain ailments to which the body could recover without medical intervention.