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I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
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Book Club 2017 > August 2017 - I Contain Multitudes

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message 1: by Betsy, co-mod (new)

Betsy | 1197 comments Mod
For August 2017 we will be reading I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong.

Please use this thread to post questions, comments, and reviews, at any time.


Elentarri | 53 comments I enjoyed this book a great deal. There was some new information not usually covered in popular science books and the author has a decent writing style.

My review:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 3: by Matt (last edited Aug 02, 2017 07:32AM) (new) - added it

Matt (psychtheologian) | 2 comments Just started this and I confess I was initially put off by a degree of "stamp-collecting"; you know, this is a fact and this is a fact and this is... you get the idea. However, a couple of things have jumped out at me as interesting. The first was that the first eukaryotes arose from a symbiosis between a bacterium and an archaeon! Endosymbiosis is old news but an archaeon? Very cool, which lead me to http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.or... which I now need to actually read...

The other thing was the idea that defining what is meant by the word "organism" is difficult! I'm familiar with the issues around "species" but organism is a new one; fascinating.


David | 721 comments Mod
I found this book to be wonderful. It is very informative, fun and filled with subtle humor, and I strongly encourage people to read it. Here is my review.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (CheshireScratch) | 207 comments I am starting it. Liking it so far!


Nancy Mills (nancyfaym) | 254 comments Just finished it a couple of days ago and give it 5 stars. Lovely writing, easy to follow but detailed. Almost skipped it because I just read "Missing Microbes" and this sounded similar. It was not; the two books are complementary and both very worthwhile.
One part that was particularly charming was the description of Leewenhoek's amazing microscopes and how they opened a whole new world to him and to those who were lucky enough to share his experiences. He was delighted and enthralled by the little "zoos" he found in his mouth, drops of water and whatever he put under his lens ... as opposed to many modern reactions, often to the effect of "ewww!" Which makes logical sense, because obviously the mouth the microbes came from was that of a healthy subject, and the drops of water filled with a multiude of tiny beings were commonly drunk by humans which no apparent tendency to ill effect.


message 7: by Joon Kiat (last edited Aug 28, 2017 12:23AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joon Kiat (JoonKiat) | 10 comments I am almost finished with this book and was glad that I picked it up.

At this point, I highly recommend this book. Not only is it well-researched, Ed Yong has also successfully weaved it into a coherent narrative on "a grander view of life". If you are wondering how exactly microbes can fit into this narrative (like me initially), you'll be really surprised after reading this book.

A really well-written and fascinating book, which deconstructs the simplistic view on microbes.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (CheshireScratch) | 207 comments I am reading about Wolbachia, the reproductive parasite of many insects. Wow!


Susan (susanj13) | 20 comments For the people who enjoyed Ed Yong's writing, I would highly recommend looking up his articles on National Geographic & Atlantic. All very fascinating subjects and I have been a fan of his writing since then.

As a microbiome researcher, I have been meaning to read this book since its release, but things (read: other books!) kept getting in the way. I finally have a copy and looking forward to read it this month!


aPriL does feral sometimes  (CheshireScratch) | 207 comments I am wondering why the citizens of the Western World are somehow living so long (80-85) on average despite the various dire warnings about our use of soap daily in washing up and the processed food diet (not counting obesity, which does to seem to shorten life).

I like this book anyway, even if it becomes hyperbolic sometimes about the ruination of humankind because of food, chemicals and diet choices. We could all die from a superbug.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (CheshireScratch) | 207 comments Btw, the Greatest Generation ate Spam, hotdogs, canned soup and white bread, feeding it to us baby boomers throughout our childhoods - and I was fine. I eat fruits, vegetables and brown bread now, and I have horrible acid reflux as an adult.

: (


Nancy Mills (nancyfaym) | 254 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "Btw, the Greatest Generation ate Spam, hotdogs, canned soup and white bread, feeding it to us baby boomers throughout our childhoods - and I was fine. I eat fruits, vegetables and brown bread now, ..."

Very true! I think it's because medicine has become so advanced. They have pills to counteract everything from diabetes to high blood pressure. Almost every old person I know takes gobs of pills. I have heard the health care industry is actually a sickness management industry. They keep us alive, but sick enough that we have to keep coming back to them. Cynical view, but there is much evidence. Big Pharma and Big Health Care do not make much money off of healthy people.


David | 721 comments Mod
Nancy,
I agree with you 100%. The so-called health-care industry is designed to keep people in a state of disease, just short of dying. There are other approaches that apply natural, preventive methods, such as in Food Over Medicine: The Conversation That Could Save Your Life. I wish more doctors would read books like this. The problem is that the insurance industry would not approve of medicine-less treatments, and would not approve of the long teaching sessions that would be required. And--people like the quick fix, rather than the effort required by a lifestyle change.


Susan (susanj13) | 20 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "Btw, the Greatest Generation ate Spam, hotdogs, canned soup and white bread, feeding it to us baby boomers throughout our childhoods - and I was fine. I eat fruits, vegetables and brown bread now, ..."

Actually, the acid reflux could very well also be because our microbiomes have been considerably affected by our childhood diets :)


aPriL does feral sometimes  (CheshireScratch) | 207 comments That could be so.

However, I also got pneumonia several times, and I was given so many antibiotics in order to recover.

I suspect my gut bacteria are out of balance, for whatever combination of life events. Although so far, acid reflux seems to have affected several members of my distant relations as well. I do not share a childhood with them.

This book appears to say if I change my diet entirely to vegetarian, it might after awhile change my gut bacteria. Who knows?

: )


Nancy Mills (nancyfaym) | 254 comments David wrote: "Nancy,
I agree with you 100%. The so-called health-care industry is designed to keep people in a state of disease, just short of dying. There are other approaches that apply natural, preventive met..."


That sounds like a worthwhile read, I will look for that one. And so true, it's easier to take a pill than to give up desserts!
I saw a documentary about our health care system that illustrates our point ... I wish I could remember the title .... and what is that herb that's supposed to improve memory .... ?


Nancy Mills (nancyfaym) | 254 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "That could be so.

However, I also got pneumonia several times, and I was given so many antibiotics in order to recover.

I suspect my gut bacteria are out of balance, for whatever combination of ..."


I hate to even bring it up, but have you read the part about the poop soup yet? Sorry. But it DOES make sense.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (CheshireScratch) | 207 comments Not yet, Nancy. Poop soup, oh joy!

: D


Nancy Mills (nancyfaym) | 254 comments aPriL does feral sometimes wrote: "Not yet, Nancy. Poop soup, oh joy!

: D"

Oh yeah ... you can't make this stuff up!


message 20: by Jim (new)

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 418 comments I'm reading The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2011 & the second story is "Nature's Spoils" which focuses on opportunivores. Definitely not lunch time reading, but a lot of it deals with natural bacteriological balance, the issues of too much cleanliness, & such. You can read the article for free here:
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20...


aPriL does feral sometimes  (CheshireScratch) | 207 comments Great article! Thanks, Jim.


Nancy Mills (nancyfaym) | 254 comments That is a great article. Rotten meat is too far out, but some other good ideas in here.


message 24: by Jim (new)

Jim (JimMacLachlan) | 418 comments Nancy wrote: "That is a great article. Rotten meat is too far out, but some other good ideas in here."

As I wrote, not lunch time reading which was when I was doing it, of course. I found the various pickling descriptions interesting, especially the chemicals involved.


Manzoor Elahi | 31 comments Perdue Farms is giving its chicken fewer antibiotics and more probiotics. It is also phasing out antibiotics in favour of vaccines.

“About 40 years ago, a herpes virus called Marek’s disease began to attack chickens, and vets discovered that vaccinating the chicks while they were still in their shells could inoculate them for life. But when you penetrate eggs with a needle loaded with the vaccine, the tiny hole you create opens a door, welcoming bacteria in. To solve this problem, hatcheries added small amounts of gentamicin to the vaccine to prevent bacteria from getting a foothold in the bird.”

“This method was so efficient that, decades later, the hatchery ended up being the trickiest place for Perdue to remove antibiotics from production. The company gets its eggs from contract breeders, and in the past eggs often arrived covered in bacteria-laden manure. Now Perdue requires its breeders to deliver clean eggs. Perdue also used to mix its Marek’s vaccines in the middle of a less-than-pristine hatchery. Today the company mixes the drugs under sterile laboratory conditions and injects clean, antibiotic-free vaccines into clean eggs. It took a while, but by March 2014 the company had banished antibiotics from all 16 of its hatcheries.”

“If these chickens aren’t eating anti¬biotics to spur weight gain, how do they get plump enough to ensure Perdue’s profits and some money for its farmers?
Stewart-Brown surprises me with his answers. The first is the opposite of antibiotics: probiotics, or live cultures (think of the acidophilus in yogurt) that can increase the good microbes in the gut, crowding out the bad ones. Probiotics boost the chickens’ immunity and even their growth rates, Stewart-Brown says. “Industry guys like to make fun of probiotics—I was one of them, five or six years ago,” he says. Back then, he adds, some probiotics marketed for use in chickens were “foo-foo dust,” but Perdue found that some actually work.”

http://www.motherjones.com/environmen...


message 26: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Sep 23, 2017 09:54PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

aPriL does feral sometimes  (CheshireScratch) | 207 comments Manzoor wrote: "Perdue Farms is giving its chicken fewer antibiotics and more probiotics. It is also phasing out antibiotics in favour of vaccines.

“About 40 years ago, a herpes virus called Marek’s disease bega..."


I recognize this is a serious and good article from Mother Jones Magazine, but still - the phrase “foo-foo dust” is SO fricking cool.


Manzoor Elahi | 31 comments According to Harvard Health article, most probiotics are sold as dietary supplements, which do not undergo the testing and approval process that drugs do. There's no guarantee that the types of bacteria listed on a label are effective as health benefits are strain-specific, and not all strains are necessarily useful.
https://www.health.harvard.edu/vitami...

And the article in Scientific American says “Manufacturers of probiotics often select specific bacterial strains for their products because they know how to grow them in large numbers, not because they are adapted to the human gut or known to improve health. The particular strains of Bifidobacterium or Lactobacillus that are typically found in many yogurts and pills may not be the same kind that can survive the highly acidic environment of the human stomach and from there colonize the gut.”
https://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...
http://nautil.us/issue/50/emergence/s...


Nancy Mills (nancyfaym) | 254 comments Manzoor wrote: "Perdue Farms is giving its chicken fewer antibiotics and more probiotics. It is also phasing out antibiotics in favour of vaccines.

“About 40 years ago, a herpes virus called Marek’s disease bega..."


Thanks for sharing. Good news, but I still find the image of baby chicks on conveyer belts like so many widgets disconcerting. As the article points out, the primary reason for widespread use of antibiotics in factory farming is not illness prevention, but fast weight gain. And we eat those birds, and there are a heck of a lot of fat people waddling around. Just sayin'.


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