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2017 - ASEH Annual Conference Words: 250 words || 
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1. Finger, Thomas. "Gut Microbes and the Industrial Revolution" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL, <Not Available>. 2019-11-14 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171308_index.html>
Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: This paper discusses how bacteria living in human stomachs forged a new ecosystem during the British industrial revolution. Combining insights from microbial biology, history, and dietary science, I describe how new concentrations of food and people in cities necessitated a new chain of linkages between humans and bacteria. A new dietary balance, which meant more meat for the middle class and more bread for the poor, created a new gut microbiota that favored bacteria well-adapted to breakdown carbohydrates into simple sugars. These bacteria were indispensable to humans. Bacteria colonies inside stomachs and intestines powered their reproduction with human food and in the process, broke apart complex carbohydrate and protein strands into simple sugars and amino acids that circulated around the body for cellular formation and maintenance. The ecology of gut flora, then, was necessary to maintain the new types of regularized labor that began during the industrial revolution. But, as humans often expelled a large portion of their gut bacteria inside fecal matter, this body process became a contaminant in their living environment. New concentrations of people, food, and bacteria contributed to the sanitation problem of industrial cities. Bacterial infections leading to cholera and typhoid fever prompted sanitation reform following the 1850s. This paper concludes that the rise in life expectancy in nineteenth century England was wrapped up in the ecology of human gut microbes: their reproduction powered a dietary revolution at the same time human management of bacteria in sewage led to a decrease in death due to disease.


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