Jonathan Eisen: Meet your microbes | Summary and Q&A

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Jonathan Eisen: Meet your microbes

TL;DR

In this TED Talk, the speaker shares his personal journey with diabetes and explores the importance of the microbial community that lives in and on our bodies.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What is the main focus of the speaker's talk?

The main focus of the speaker's talk is the microbial community that lives in and on our bodies.

Q: How many cells of microbes do we have on our bodies compared to human cells?

We have 10 times as many cells of microbes on our bodies as we have human cells.

Q: What have studies shown about the role of the microbial community in our bodies?

Studies have shown that the microbial community in our bodies helps in the development of the immune system, fights off pathogens, determines our metabolic rate, and may even shape our behavior.

Q: What are some of the risks associated with excessive use of antibiotics?

Excessive use of antibiotics, especially in children, has been associated with risk factors for obesity, autoimmune diseases, and other health problems due to the disruption of the microbial community.

Q: What are probiotics and how effective are they in restoring the microbial community?

Probiotics are a simple solution to restore the microbial community in and on our bodies, but most probiotics only contain a few species of microbes. They have been shown to be effective in some cases, such as preventing necrotizing enterocolitis in premature infants.

Q: What is the concept of "germophobia" discussed in the video?

"Germophobia" refers to the obsession with cleanliness and excessive use of antibiotics, which can disrupt the microbial community in our bodies and lead to various health problems.

Q: How can the microbial community be restored in a more comprehensive way?

Fecal transplants, where a community of microbes from a healthy donor is delivered through the other end, have shown promising results in restoring the microbial community, especially in treating certain infectious diseases like Clostridium difficile infections.

Q: How should we view and treat the microbial community in and on us?

The microbial community should be viewed as a functioning organ and should be treated carefully and with respect. Unnecessary interventions like C-sections, antibiotics, or excessive cleanliness should be avoided without a good justification.

Q: What is the speaker's main message at the end of the talk?

The speaker's main message is that we need to start considering the microbial community in the context of human medicine and have a full understanding of its role in our lives. We are connected to the microbes, and they are a vital part of who we are.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker shares a personal story about being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and explores the role of the microbial community in causing autoimmune diseases like diabetes.

  • The speaker discusses the importance of studying the microbial community using DNA sequencing techniques to understand its role in human health and illness.

  • The speaker highlights the potential negative effects of antibiotics and excessive cleanliness on the microbial community and suggests alternative methods like probiotics and fecal transplants to restore and maintain a healthy microbial balance.

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