The medical fraternity is undergoing tremendous changes credited to the application of biotechnology. The latter refers to the application of technology in biological research activities. This expository essay shall essentially examine the changes in medicine courtesy of technology. It shall essentially concentrate on the continuing study of microbes and their effects on the lives of human beings. Two articles come into focus; “Tending the Body’s Microbial Garden” and “Microbes ‘R’ Us. It is instructive to appreciate the context from which the two articles are written. Both authors, Carl Zimmer and Olivia Judson, assume an embracive approach to medical technology. However, the focus of this essay shall not be based much on the technology. Rather, the essay seeks to bring out the surprisingly positive contributions that microbes have on the human body. This relatively nascent area of research promises to give the medical fraternity answers to some of the most critical medical inquiries. In addition, the articles in analyzing the microbe activities in the body bring out how simplistic approaches can give solutions to complex situations. As intimated by one of the authors, in exploring the world, one does not need to go out in the open space. Rather, exploration can take place within the human body. Microbe activity is one such form of exploration.
Zimmer introduces his article with the news that the human body is home to about 100 trillion microbes. Indeed, this huge number surprises an audience that all along has always assumed that it is healthy. However, this surprise is neutered by the fact that microbes do not necessarily exist for detrimental purposes. Far from it the microbes positively impact on the human body in some aspects such as immunity, digestion and dietary balance. It is on that vein that Zimmer introduces the concept of medical ecology. The whole idea is illuminating and daunting for the audience. Medical ecology attempts to study and appreciate the symbiotic relationship between microbes and the human body. It is observed by Zimmer that microbes in the system do not necessarily consume the body’s resources wastefully. According to Zimmer, these microbes have been proved to contribute in some critical respects in a positive manner. Zimmer uses this contribution to introduce the concept of microbial wildlife management. It is this latter concept that intrigues the audience. Apparently, microbial wildlife management advocates for the proper management of the microbes in the system. Accordingly, human beings should strike a balance between the different microbes in the body. Striking the balance is a deliberate activity that can be successfully conducted with the observance of dietary discipline. One critical observation that remains essential is the consumption of lesser sugars. However, before effectively tackling that element, it is imperative to appreciate Zimmer’s observation to the effect that microbes equally contribute to the building of the body immunity. It is observed that microbes play an immunity role right from the pregnancy stage. Incidentally, some variety of vaginal bacteria is responsible for releasing secretions that aid in milk digestion. The vaginal bacteria access the unborn fetus during the subsistence of the pregnancy. These bacteria coagulate and stick in the system of the unborn child. Upon introduction of the now born child to milk from the mother, it is these bacteria that aid in the initial digestion of the milk. Equally these bacteria tutors the immune system as the baby just begins grow.
Equally, Zimmer observes the contribution of microbes to the immune system of mice. According to the research conducted, mice that were exposed to microbes in their early ages had stronger immunity and were consequently more resistant as compared to mice that were introduced to microbes at a later date. This development seems to confirm the immunity role observed in the babies introduced to bacteria during their fetal growth. It is on this premise that Zimmer concludes that mothers have the option of determining the health of their children during the pregnancy stage. In addition, Zimmer observes that microbes could equally prevent some medical disorders. Some of the mentioned disorders include obesity and diabetes.
On the other hand, Judson begins her article by observing the enormous presence of microbes in the body. In further confirming the topic of her article, Judson asserts that microbes are us explaining that in total they surpass the human cells by a factor of ten. She then proceeds to give some of the beneficial returns human beings receive from the presence of microbes in the body. According to her sources, microbes live in the body in a symbiotic relationship. Some of the observed contributions relate to digestion and immunity. She observes that microbes in the gut facilitate digestion. In addition, these microbes control excesses in the types of foods consumed. For instance, she observes that for humans who consume excess sugars, the sugar extracting microbes would be in their millions as opposed to the situation in humans who consume more vegetables and lesser sugars.
However, what is intriguing about the observations by Judson is the genetic function of microbes. According to Judson, the microbes possibly influence our genes. Interestingly, Judson attempts to draw the relation between the bacteria types in humans. She observes factors such as genealogy, geography and diet as determinants of the types of bacteria in the human beings. However, she falls short of explaining why these factors actually influence the types of bacteria in the system. Another intriguing comment that only appears in passing is her observation that bacteria actually contribute to the growth of a normal heart. This is to suggest that the absence of bacteria would occasion an abnormal heart.
The two authors happen to have taken a positive approach to the existence of microbes in the human system. Their tone seems to suggest that the symbiotic relationship between microbes and the human body should be appreciated. In addition, the authors remind the audience of the need to look deeper into issues. It is instructive to note the apparent disdain for microbes in the outside world. In the field of medicine the approach is contrary if the authors’ arguments are anything to go by. However, the authors appear to suggest an outrageous approach. For instance, Zimmer recommends for the application of microbial wildlife management. She suggests that the indiscriminate elimination of microbes should stop. However, in her argument, she does not take the trouble to explain how this would be practically implemented. In addition, it fails to observe the damage and limitations occasioned by microbes in the human system. From that perspective, it is essential to critically examine the practicability of her arguments. In addition, it is imperative to address the issue of balancing the concentration of the types of microbes in the human system. The question left unanswered is how, for instance, one is to know too much sugar microbes are in the system and to what extent is a balance necessary.
In the same strain, Judson’s article comes with a number of limitations. Foremost, Judson assumes an overly positive evaluation of microbes in the system. She conveniently fails to mention any of the damage microbes occasion in the human system. In addition, her symbiotic relationship argument fails to observe who benefits more and where the imbalance lies. In suggesting matters of geography, genealogy and diet as the distinguishing determinants for the variants in the human system while on the other hand observing that the reason remains unknown; her argument exposes some form of knowledge gap that needs to be studied further.
However, it is essential to appreciate the approach of both authors. The authors seem to embrace microbes. In illuminating the positive contributions of the microbes, the authors inform the audience of the symbiotic relationship occurring in and outside the human body. They remind the audience of the fact that the human body cannot operate in a vacuum. In addition, they seem to suggest the way forward in the solution of medical problems. With the advent of biotechnology, researchers have been compelled to look beyond the traditional confines. Biotechnology has further facilitated the study of microorganisms. The tone of the articles seem to suggest that biotechnology would lead to the solution of medical problems or in the least a better lifestyle due to the information at the disposal of human beings. It is with consumption of such information that lives would be healthier and lifestyles tailored for the better.
Judson, O. (2009, June 21). Microbes ‘R’ Us. Opinionator. Retrieved from http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/21/microbes-r-us/
US National Library of Medicine. (2010, March 21). Population Health Metrics. Retrieved June 13, 2013, from US National Library of Medicine: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2885317/
Zimmer, K. (2012, June 18). Tending the Body’s Microbial Garden. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/19/science/studies-of-human-microbiome-yield-new-insights.html?pagewanted=all