(photo credit: Scimat Scimat via Getty Images)
It is now believed that 84% of our body's immune system function occurs in the intestinal tract, directly driven by our gut bacteria. According to mercola.com, key areas of health affected by the microbiome include:
|credit: Science News for Students; 5-22-2015|
Carrying the implications of current research a little further, it makes evolutionary sense for our bacteria to affect our behavior. Bacteria not only affect our moods, they affect the food we reach for to consume.
When the bacteria is hungry for sugar, we reach for the sugar to feed them. We are carriers for the bacteria. We are their servants. We eat on their behalf, and the food we eat is influenced by the particular mix of bacteria we carry in our guts. "Unfriendly" gut bacteria uniformly prefer a sugary, low-fiber environment. "Friendly" bacteria, on other hand, need a high-fiber environment in which to thrive; eating plant fibers lines our gut with an ideal matrix for the growth of friendly bacteria. Sugar consumption, on the other hand, causes a relative decrease in friendly bacteria and an increase in unfriendly bacteria. The unfriendly bacteria in your gut pressure you to eat sweets so they can survive. No wonder it is so hard to resist sweets! It's your will-power against all of theirs!
Toxoplasma gondii, an obligate intracellular human parasite, has a unique cytoskeletal apparatus that is probably used for invading host cells and for parasite replication. Shown here are images of T. gondii constructing daughter scaffolds within the mother cell. Cyan: YFP-α-Tubulin; yellow: mRFP-TgMORN1 (see Hu et al.).
Credit: Image provided by Ke Hu and John Murray.
According to the University of Cornell, "The life cycle of Toxoplasma gondii is complex and involves two types of host—definitive and intermediate. Cats, both wild and domestic, are the only definitive hosts forToxoplasma gondii. This means that the parasite can only produce oocysts (eggs) when infecting a cat. When a cat ingests an infected prey (or other infected raw meat) the parasite is released into the cat’s digestive tract. The organisms then multiply in the wall of the small intestine and produce oocysts during what is known as the intraintestinal infection cycle." (http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/Health_Information/brochure_toxo.cfm)
We know the toxoplasma gondii drive the mice to be eaten by the cats. This is undisputable. This is a clear example of the host organism working on behalf of the bacteria. The Simple Explanation of this phenomenon is that the governing Unit of Consciousness of each hungry bacterial colony, the collective bacterial "hive mind," exerts the influence of their collective will on the host's decision-making mechanism. They carry a big vote, in other words, that may or may not be at odds with the host body's own will.
Would it be entirely out of the realm of possibility for bacteria to have been responsible for human-scale historical trends? How about the bacteria's need for refined sugar driving the slave-trade that labored on their behalf in the sugar plantations? Chew on that one for a while!