Wednesday April 24, 2019

For better health, gut bacteria of 15 tribes mapped by Indian scientists


Guwahati: Among researchers across the globe, a group of Indian scientists mapped the gut bacteria of 15 ethnic tribes of the country to understand their role in health, enabling development of personalised medicines and designer diets to suit changing lifestyles.

The research published in the December 2015 edition of Nature Scientific Reports also highlights the resemblance of Gut Bacterial Profile (GBP) of these communities with the profiles of the Mongoloid population of Mongolia, involving 193 healthy individuals from tribes of Assam, Manipur, Sikkim and Telangana.

“Till now there was no such report on the GBP of the ethnic tribes of India. With the rapid economic development coupled with the modernization of lifestyle, the tribal population of India may eventually undergo alteration in GBP and it is important to know the profile of these microorganisms to prepare necessary strategies for action,” Mojibur R. Khan, group leader of the study, told reporters.

By charting out the profile, the puzzle of how diet, genes and geography shape GBP and how even minute changes in the milieu of microorganisms have a significant impact on human health, will decipher.

“It will also help us in designing personalized medication and nutritional standards,” said Khan, a scientist at Guwahati’s Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST).

Other collaborators in the Department of Biotechnology-funded project include Narayan C. Talukdar from Manipur’s Institute of Bioresources & Sustainable Development (IBSD) and Rupjyoti Talukdar from Hyderabad’s Asian Healthcare Foundation/Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, in addition to IASST.

In 2015, after a major chunk of research directed on the topics of gut bacteria and the human microbiome which are the red hot topics right now made it clear that they’re much more important than previously thought.

Practical applications like faecal transplant to fight life-threatening diseases became a reality.

While some of these microbes like the dry parts of the skin, others snuggle up in the warm confines of the mouth or the moist skin folds of underarms. It’s a symbiosis: humans offer them residence, they help us live.

But the major chunk of real estate for these bacteria, virus and fungi are the human gut.

Under impaired circumstances, a harmless organism can become a disease-causing one which may result in your overall health becoming topsy-turvy due to the erosion of a, particularly beneficial species. So, common practices like eating curd (or other probiotics) regularly ensure the gut gets its share of good bacteria to ease digestion.

Khan said that as many as 593 bacterial varieties were detected in the profiles and Sikkim tribes showed a “higher abundance” of probiotic bacterial varieties like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus as they consume more dairy products, including curd.

By intake of dairy products and studying their effects on health, a GBP can be altered and researchers have launched this study as an offshoot to the GBP mapping.

“When compared with the worldwide data on gut bacteria, the Indian tribal population had more similarity with the Mongoloid population of Mongolia. This means either the genetic similarity or the geographical settings have resulted in the particular food habits (such as fermented foods) and resulting gut bacterial profile,” said Khan of IASST’s Molecular Biology and Microbial Biotechnology Laboratory, Life Science Division.

Khan added, “Furthermore, most of these tribes prepare traditional rice beer using some herbs, which they consume regularly. This may also have some role in their health benefits as it is included in their custom and rituals. We have taken this as an intense area of research to understand the effect of rice beer on GBP and health.”(IANS)

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Are Indian Scientists’ Minds Cluttered With Prejudices?

Those who looked down upon the ancient scientific achievements are not even aware of 1% of the vast repository of ancient literature. Is disproving anything Indian without deeper studies, not a dangerously unscientific trend?


By Salil Gewali

One has to “alert oneself” to false knowledge, it is more dangerous than ignorance. However, the right knowledge should not be resisted. But even in this cutting edge of science, the right knowledge has often been opposed and willfully shrugged aside.

As in the previous years, this year as well “Science Congress” (India) was in the eyes of a storm. When a few of the senior scientists mere mentioned about the scientific discoveries by the ancient sages, many other “Indian scientists” felt grievously humiliated. Next day the scream of derision in the media meant a lot. It has categorically lampooned all those scholars who have shown the courage to set out the achievements of the ancient intellectual. The criminal was not put to shame so much but the scientists were. Those who looked down upon Indian scientific achievements were not even aware of 1%  of the vast repository of ancient literature. Is disproving anything Indian without deeper studies not a dangerously irrational trend?

Nothing could be so absurd than the fact the scientists could thus lose their cool and throw away the stupendous treatises branding them all as myth. The aversion to the knowledge coming from a particular country is itself unscientific. Knowledge should not be weighed in terms of the color of the skin of the author or the sound of the language it has been first set down.  Well, the reasons why Indians things are hated are not far to look for if one is clever. He can easily guess who all are to blame for this growing self-hating.

Science knowledge
This mystic science emphasizes that it is not just about knowing and empirically explaining the material subjects/objects, but being communion with the knowledge and a lot more.

The dispassionate scientific inquiry by any persons from any corner of the world should be encouraged. But it is too unfortunate that the hatred for the knowledge from India is encouraged by the major academic institutions. I have noticed many Indian brothers who excessively demean their other brothers when the latter luxuriate in the fact that number system was one of the greatest gifts of India to the world. Laplace and Albert Einstein themselves could not hold back from heaping praises upon Indian Rishis for this epoch-making invention of number Zero.

I say with utmost earnestness that it is smart Indians who were far more correct for preferring the “mind-training”before setting out for any scientific probing. They felt that even the stream of the scientific inquiry “could go astray”.  ‘The wrong line of thoughts could also sometimes bring disaster to the whole civilization’ — warn the seers of ancient India. Well, what was held as “true” by a Newtonian group of scientists was disapproved when the physicists like Niels Bohr, Schrodinger, and Heisenberg come up with “Quantum Physics”. Niels Bohr had a tough time to convince Albert Einstein about the ‘Uncertainty Principle’ of Werner Heisenberg.

Please do not be quick to brand one a chauvinist, but the saints of India had always tried to delve deeper than the standard scientific inquiry — the fact has been well acknowledged by a front-ranking group of western scientists.  Indian sages were pretty more cautious to “doubt” the limited “sensory tools” and weak mind of a human being. So, they ultimately had come up with a profound discipline called YOGAIt is the “greatest” of all discoveries of all time if we could FULLY understand its higher meaning and its purpose.I am not saying here about the stretching and twisting of arms and legs but controlling the mind. They realized that only by restraining the mind and senses can one climb up and up to the higher dimensions of the consciousness.  This yogic discipline can help connect one even to the Super-soul and thereafter the “doer and the knowledge become one”. This mystic science emphasizes that it is not just about knowing and empirically explaining the material subjects/objects, but being communion with the knowledge and a lot more.

Finally, among many others, I will love to quote another great opinion by the father of Atomic Bomb Robert J. Oppenheimer –“What we SHALL find in MODERN PHYSICS is an exemplification, an encourage and refinement of Old India wisdom”.

Let me leave aside the technology of test-tube babies during Mahabharata and various kind of Vimanas during Satyayuga — which have been just made the subject of ridicule at ‘Science Congress’ time and again. As yet we have not invented historiscopeto look into history. Can we just undermine and despise William Shakespeare as Marlovian Theory has been brought up which asserts that the works attributed to Shakespeare have been authored by Christopher Marlowe?

Whole Vedanta, including Mahabharata, Yoga Vasistha, Bhagavad Gita…, are based on this conception of the communion with the KNOWLEDGE.  This very profound idea had held great minds like Schrodinger, who credited his insight into the discovery of the ideas related to Quantum Mechanics to this ancient knowledge, spellbound. Here is how the Nobel laureate eulogizes the ancient wisdom – “In all world, there is no kind of framework within which we can find “consciousness in the plural”; this is simply something we construct because of the temporal plurality of individuals, but it is a false construction…. The only solution to this conflict in so far as any is available to us at all lies in the ancient wisdom of the Upanishads.”  If we deeply ponder over this small quote by Schrodinger, it should totally put our ripple of misgiving, and tenacious prejudices against India to rest. Is it not totally idiotic to call one limpy and cowardly who has already climbed the Mount Everest 50 times? Don’t “trust” a fool who fears to come out in the darkness of night and raise his head up but repeatedly says there are no stars in the sky! Yes, we can’t help those who have blinded themselves with the thick cover of certain ideologies and prejudices and set out to find fault-lines against some with certain purposes.

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Finally, among many others, I will love to quote another great opinion by the father of Atomic Bomb  Robert J. Oppenheimer –“What we SHALL find in MODERN PHYSICS is an exemplification, an encourage and refinement of Old India wisdom”(source –’The Tao of Physics’ by Fritjof Capra). Had this nuclear scientist gone insane while expressing this thought? One totally agrees that we should not take anything at the face value. But, however, at the same time, we should not look down on those profound riches that have come out from the womb of our own Mother. Now the West has given us enough number of tools to scientifically verify many of them. Let the truth be given a chance to emerge from the darkness of illusion.  The sunshine of science should not at all be eclipsed by the clouds of prejudices, hatred, and envy.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’.  Twitter: @SGewali.