The human microbiome
So far, we have learned about how our diet can affect our overall health. We’ve also been introduced to the human microbiome. The human microbiome contains all the microbes that live on and in the body. This includes:
An overview on the microbiome:
The microbiome helps us digest our food, regulates the immune system, protects against other, disease causing bacteria, and produces vitamins (among other things).
Some autoimmune diseases are associated with dysfunctions in the microbiome.
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Muscular dystrophy
Our microbiome can be affected by the foods we eat and by other things, like taking antibiotics when we are sick, or by antibiotics present in the animal products we consume.
We have also learned that taking antibiotics when they are unnecessary (when we are sick with a virus, or a minor infection), and antibiotics in our food can contribute to antibiotic resistance.
You can also learn more from the resources available on the Human Microbiome Project website:
For this project, we will putting this knowledge to use to analyze how what we eat affects our microbiome and may contribute to antibiotic resistance.
For this project, you need to track and record the food and beverages you consume for two days. You will submit this within Canvas with a “text box submission”. You also may submit a .doc, .docx or PDF through Canvas. Other formats (including email submission) will not be accepted nor graded.
For each meal, you need to make a table containing the following information:
1) Identify the food/beverages you consumed, and in what quantity
2) Identify what class of foods you ate in each meal
You can use https://www.choosemyplate.gov/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. to help you determine food classes.
3) Identify how much sugar was in each meal and convert grams of sugar to teaspoons of sugar. Four grams of sugar is equal to one teaspoon.
You can estimate sugar content in several different ways:
- You can read the nutrition label on packaged foods, determine how much sugar is in each serving, and how many servings you ate
- You can use any number of sugar tracking apps (Wholesome app, One Sweet app, https://cronometer.com/(Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. or https://www.webmd.com/diet/healthtool-food-calorie-counter (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.)
4) If you are consuming animal products (e.g., meat, dairy, eggs), mark whether they are labelled as antibiotic free
For each day, you will then need to answer the following questions:
1) Based on what you learned from the videos, identify which foods from your meals you think may help or harm your microbiome and which are neutral (meaning they likely have no effect) (e.g., sugar can be harmful, high fiber foods and fermented foods can be helpful)
2) How much total sugar did you consume each day?The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the average adult consume no more than 25 grams of sugar each day. Based on this information, what percentage of the recommended daily allowance did you consume? (you can figure this out by dividing the number of grams you consumed by 25, and multiplying your result by 100. For example, if you consumed 30 grams of sugar, 30/25 = 1.2, multiplied by 100 is 120, so you consumed 120% of your recommended daily allowance)
3) How balanced is your diet, according to the recommendations on www.choosemyplate.gov/ ? (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
For example, part of your day may look like this:
|Food||Quantity||Food class||Sugar content||Antibiotic free?|
|Cream cheese||1 tablespoon||Dairy||0||Yes|
|Coffee with cream and sugar||16 oz||Dairy, sugar||1 teaspoon||Yes (cream)|
After you record your food and beverages, answer the following questions:
1) Was it surprising to see how much sugar you consumed? Are you consuming more, less, or about the same as you thought you were?
2) Based on what you learned in the videos, do you think your diet is generally helping or harming your microbiome? Why?
3) What might you do to help your microbiome?
4) After this project, are you likely to change your diet?