Microbiomes: I'll skip the chicken, but please pass me some cat poo!

in sciency •  3 months ago

You’ve probably heard the expression “We are what we eat.” It’s true not only about the foods we eat, but also the unique blend of microorganisms that live in each of our bodies, some of which come from our food or our immediate environment. These bacteria, viruses, fungi, archaea, and other “wee beasties” (as Antonie van Leeuwenhoek called them in the 17th Century) make up our body’s microbiome.

As a doctor friend told me recently, “we’re basically a jumble of different organisms.” And as the BBC reported in April 2018, quoting several scientific experts on the human microbiome, only about 43% of our bodies’ cells are human. The remainder – the majority! – are not human cells, but are made up of various bacteria, viruses, and other small organisms.

Two recent news stories are worth mentioning here. One of them involves eating chicken. The other involves being exposed to cat feces.

Chickens are Nervous Birds

Does it really matter what you eat and what you breathe? I’ll let you decide.

Let’s start with Jim Harbaugh. If you’re not a fan of American football, you may not know his name. If you do know of Harbaugh, then you’ll recall he’s currently head coach of the football team at the University of Michigan, one of the premier academic and sports schools in the United States. Previously, he coached the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL).

Harbaugh is an intense guy. He’s the kind of coach who does not just stand quietly on the sidelines of a game. He’s constantly screaming at his players and confronting the referees about the calls they make. His mouth is open the entire game. His team is lucky is he stays on the sidelines. As a former NFL quarterback himself, he’d probably rather jump in, take the ball from his players, and start playing again.

Source: https://www.mlive.com/wolverines/index.ssf/2015/11/harbaughisms_notable_quotes_fr.html

From the San Jose Mercury News, here are 10 strange quotes from Harbaugh, just to give you a flavor for his oddities.

  1. “I don’t take vacations. I don’t get sick. I don’t observe major holidays. I’m a jack hammer.”
  2. “I was and still am happier than a pig in slop.”
  3. “People talk about cold weather and it’d be tough to catch balls. But the greatest catcher of all time, Michael Crabtree, catches everything. It’s unbelievable. In the northern snowlands, down to the tropics’ sunny scenes, he’s catching the football. Where they throw a football, he’ll be catching it.”
  4. “You’re kind of numb after 50 shots to the head.”
  5. “I drank a lot of milk. A lot of milk. Whole milk, though. Not the candy-ass two percent or skim milk.”
  6. “Apologies always seem to me like excuses.”
  7. “Suggestion to my Rocky Top colleague, rather than lunch in Florida you might spend your time and focus attending to your present team.”
  8. “I’m not leaving Michigan. I’m not even considering it. A lot of this talk is coming from our enemies, from coaches, you know the names. We know them as jive turkeys.”
  9. “They said, ‘Artificial sweeteners were safe, WMDs were in Iraq and Anna Nicole married for love’ … They said.”
  10. “I am now in control of all things.”

But those may pale in comparison to the quote that was attributed to him recently. Reportedly, he told one of his former players, quarterback Wilton Speight, not to eat chicken. When asked why, he said, “Because it’s a nervous bird.” Speight added: “He thinks some type of sickness injected its way into the human population when people began eating white meats instead of beef and pork. And he believes it, 100 percent.”


Lots of steak, whole milk, and cheap slacks from Walmart. Apparently, it does a body good, at least if your name is Jim Harbaugh and you’re a hard-charging football coach.

And no chicken. Because it’s a nervous bird that infects humanity. Red meat guys should stay away.

Are We What We Eat?

If “we are what we eat”, then do we become nervous birds by eating chicken? In some traditions of Oriental medicine, there’s a belief that eating powdered dried tiger penis can serve as an aphrodisiac and assist with…um…impotence. There are men in China who will pay $5700 for a bowl of tiger penis soup, even though it comes from an endangered species.


Do you truly take in the spirit of the food you eat, whether it’s a nervous bird or a noble beast? Probably not. Let’s go back to the origin of the statement “you are what you eat.” What it means is that the nutrients in the food are taken up by your body. So when you eat highly processed foods, you may glean little nutrition from it. Fat becomes fat. But when you eat lots of vegetables and fruits, legumes, whole grains, and other good stuff, the body benefits from all of those vitamins, minerals, complex sugars, amino acids, phytonutrients, and more.

The body is a machine that breaks down, processes, and drinks up the nutritional components of what you eat. But nervousness or sexual potency are not strictly on that menu. Some advocates of various natural medicinal systems will disagree, but avoiding chicken because it’s a nervous bird seems ridiculous on its face. You are the nutrition you eat, not the psychological state of any animal that becomes your meat.

Your food choices also can affect your biome, that blend of mostly beneficial organisms that calls your body home. It’s unique to you, yet any food choice can alter it somewhat. For example, eating more cabbage and broccoli might nourish certain organisms, which then reproduce in your gut more than others. And in time, if you keep up the cabbage diet, perhaps those particular eebie-jeebies may come to dominate the mix. It may well be possible to choose foods that help highlight the good organisms (such as Lactobaccilus casei, which has been linked with immunity) over the not so good ones (such as the Candida yeast that causes an infection).

The Cat Poo Bug

Next up, let’s consider the second related story from the recent news. This one is about a parasite that infects cats…and humans. Toxoplasma gondii, the parasite, is optimally suited for the body of the cat, which is the only place it has been known to reproduce. But humans can get it from cat feces.

Though it does not sexually reproduce in the human body, Toxoplasma does infect us and it remains in the body. This is not a bacterium or a virus. It is a parasitic alveolate. It causes a disease called Toxoplasmosis. If it infects pregnant women when they are pregnant, it can cause complications with the fetus. Other people can get a mild flu-like illness when infected.


The rest of the time, it just stays in the body and seems relatively harmless. But is it really harmless? A large percentage of the human population, estimated to be 20-50%, plays host to this parasite.

The weird thing is that it affects our brain. It rewires the way we think. Those who are infected, even if they have no noticeable symptoms, may have their behavior altered in a substantial way.

Source: https://www.slideshare.net/leofrancispacquingmd/ocular-toxoplasmosis-49920437

It encourages people to take risks. People infected with toxo tend to ignore risks more often in their decision-making and actions. And it may affect women and men differently. In men, it may increase testosterone, while women retain lower levels of testosterone. As Wikipedia summarizes the results of this research, “men were more likely to disregard rule and were more expedient, suspicious and jealous. On the other hand, women were more warm hearted, outgoing, conscientious and moralistic.”

The recent news on Toxo effects reported on a study of entrepreneurs. Specifically, the researchers studied business students in university who selected an entrepreneurial concentration, rather than something “safe” like accounting. And the researchers also took samples from students who attended an entrepreneurial event.

The results: In both of those instances, entrepreneurial students showed a much higher occurrence of Toxoplasma infection than did the normal population.

Entrepreneurs take risks, since most new businesses fail. And toxo causes people to ignore risk. 20-50% of the human population has this parasite and it affects how we think. What effect has it had on human behavior over time and on human history? How many thousands of people have started additional businesses that would not have been started? How many millions of people have taken risks they might not otherwise have taken?

Source: Acecloudhosting.com

Scientists also have identified certain gut bacteria which favor certain traits, such as obesity or immunity in the human body. Some day in the future, will there be a time when we understand so well the foods and microbiomes that make us behave certain ways, that probably affect our immune systems, our skin, our hair, and many other things?

Maybe there will be a day when we walk into a restaurant and tell the waiter, “I’ll skip the chicken, but please give me a cabbage salad with your best cat poo dressing.” Naw, that doesn't sound too good. I'll just go find some yogurt or kombucha.



The "sciency" tag is not a typo. Images are public domain or credited within the text.

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Awesome article. It scares me that the weird coach might be right in some of his statements. This post made me recall a humoristic post I published months ago with the title "Are chicken edible?"

Allan Watts, western zen guru, used to say that the human body is a colony of cooperating unicellular beings, and that the idea of "self" or "being an individual" is but an illusion with evolutionary advantages. Interesting.

The cat poo part seems to imply that toxoplasma makes men behave more like men and women behave more like women.

BTW, are you a biologist? It looks like you are, according to the latest posts of yours that I've read.


Yes, that's my take on toxo effects also. That Allan Watts connection is great; he was before his time for sure. I'm not a biologist (which is why I use the # sciency tag rather than science - it's a running joke with someone over there). I go through phases where certain things interest me.

Your post just amazed me :O We are human, but we are not full human :O

“I don’t take vacations. I don’t get sick. I don’t observe major holidays. I’m a jackhammer.

From all of the quotes, I like this one, and i like the confidence Harbaugh
has for himself!

When I read oriental medicine theory of ""we are what we eat" haha, I remember I was told to eat more neck bone soup when I broke my bones and people where I'm from eat brain, hoping to become more intelligent lol.

Harbaugh's theory is crazy, chicken is a nervous animal, that's how we get out nervousness from seems indeed ridiculous. Yet I've heard a lot of conspiracy theories about eating chicken meat, like why you should never wash chicken before cooking... so many mysteries about chicken...

It's almost the only meat I eat nowadays, not so creative like the most "I don't eat red meat" people, I think I'll stick with it and won't become a vegetarian anyway.


Bone/neck broth has some minerals and a lot of collagen so does aid a healing process by providing the building blocks necessary
Brain on the other hand is an awesome source of omega-3's on which it operates

So, as crazy as it sounds, this actually makes sense

This is an interesting read. It reminds me of a joke... One day the squirrel walked into his shrink's office and bemoaned his woes! "I learned that we are what we eat," he said, "and I realized that I am nuts!"

But jokes aside, I'd like to learn more about the bacteria in the gut and its relationship with obesity.


Thank you. I laughed! Try Googling that, since I think there is some research on it, but I have not taken the time to look into it yet myself.


Will do. Thanks

Oh I do miss Jim Harbaugh coaching my 49ers! Of course I miss Bill Walsh too. haha Even though I live here in Phoenix now, and the Niners have had a terrible team that past few years, they will always be my team. Growing up in the days of Joe Montana and Steve Young, Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Brent Jones, Ronnie Lott, etc. Those quotes from Jim are hilarious. Maybe that is why I have been nervous at times, because I eat too much chicken. I wonder what the owners of KFC and Chic-fil-a would have to say to him. Lol. I think I remember reading or hearing something about Tiger penis...Very sad for the tigers. And if we are what we eat, then I would be a walking talking chocolatey treat fo some sort. hahahaha


I'd rather be a walking chocolate treat than a tiger shlong. The Niners seem to have the beginnings of something good with John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy G. Too early to say for sure.


Yeah I have high hopes for Jimmy G. he looked good at the end of last season, all though he did throw lots of interceptions, and he was playing against teams that were using 2nd stringers. haha Time will tell! lol But if I was doing fantasy football, I would have no problems adding him to my roster. haha, I am not playing again this year. I get way to into it, and invest too much time into it, haha.

I liked the explanation of the coach and think that the chickens are nervous did not really know why it produces a change similar to the human when making any decision, on the other hand the parasites that exist in humans cause it to interrupt the good Profit in each person and the essential thing would be to constantly wormed to not suffer from this horrible disease and on the other hand this coach tends to think big to help their own to be great.

Friend, how are you? We are definitely what we eat of that there is no doubt and if the whole world decided to eat healthy from now on, surely many companies close their doors.

There are many people who take great care exercise, eat healthy, sleep well, go to the doctor regularly but in percentage are very few, more people who eat food that does not do good to your body and never stop to think that I'm doing, what am I eating?

Another thing in my opinion that does not allow us to take a healthy diet is the case that currently lives in my country Venezuela where we eat what you get or what you can buy, hopefully this and many other messages will come to the world on how we should feed and know some foods like chicken that we do not know when we eat it if it's good or bad

Definitely the chicken, the pork and the meat must leave our day to day because in steemit I have been reading more and more the damages that cause to consume them

Jim Harbaugh is new to me so grateful and happy to read each of your publications


Hopefully, you can get some good quality basic foods like vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and beans. If you are able to add steak and milk, that's up to you. :)


Thanks friend!

I was just hearing about how exposure to cat poo can lead to increased "entrepreneurial behavior"...sign me up! I loved your post.

It's true that what we eat can affect our body system through the nutrients received after consumption, for example when we take meat we would receive the nutrient of strength and fat not turning to a physical animal of which we ate it meat. I've once heard about the saying "we are what we eat" but I never knew the meaning. I use to think that we will turn into what we eat but thanks to your post, I now know and understand the meaning. Thank you for sharing, it's really educating and enlightening

I think you are right when you say that we are what we eat, food often changes many things in our body to produce diseases if we do not consume food as it should be or is balanced

There are many myths about chicken or I do not know what to call them, they also say that they give a lot of hormones to the chicken to grow and that it can affect our organism

I did not know Jim Harbaugh until now I'm impressed by what he says the chickens are nervous I had not seen it like that but I think it's right they are usually scared and they run from one place to another


Our food choices can change things internally, but we really don't know enough to say that it's good or bad. Regarding meat that's raised with hormones or antibiotics, those should be avoided.

Excellent information! I've read some of these things before and they seem a little over the top to me, especially the chicken. I know that chicken meat is one of the most bacterial in our body and has a parasite in it that can attack pregnant women and the fetus, such as cat feces. It sounds like a horror movie, but I think we should think carefully about the truth of this. Just in case, let's wash our hands, cook the chicken well and not have too much contact with the cats. There is the case of rabbits and vitiligo, already proven. Thanks for this post

I knew Jim Harbaugh had some interesting things to say, but avoiding chicken because it's a nervous bird? Most animals that are lower on the food chain tend to be a little more nervous. I don't know how many cows go running headlong into the slaughter chute. He's a funny guy. Also, if you know Jim, please show him this video about Michael Crabtree catching anything. ;)


Haha. Throw a nervous chicken (or a frozen one) and see if Crab can catch it.


Dang it, I should have thought of that. Well played. I thought I had this game wrapped up... then you did this.

I think many here are going to think that if we are what we eat if we eat a lot of fats that we end up being? Well some people are overweight and we can suffer from many diseases because they believe that these athletes have a good body because they eat well and balanced they look healthy

I think this can also affect the stomach, the skin and so many things that for years have been said

Now the chicken first time I hear that a chicken is nervous but if I could be right about it for many years it has been said that consuming chicken can bring a series of diseases once in my country the chicken were transmitting an illness and could not be consume


That's very true about fats. People who eat fatty or heavily processed foods will find that it affects their bodies fairly directly. I think the chicken illness (like a bird flu) is something different.

Oh man , I adopted a cat 2 months ago I'm probably a host now , but I'm still quite coward in risk taking I hope it changes my brain fast ! :D Also if it starts to affect me you will get the goody goodies from my cat soon , its my treat


When you start a new business, we'll know for sure!

I was watching a program these days where I was talking about the animals with the most parasites and among the first were chicken and pork! That's why they were asked to be frozen for a long time to kill the parasite. Must be true if science says so.

Joe Rogan has had a few interesting guest on his podcast that talk about our gut microbiome and how much of an influence it has on us. It will be cool in the future when we know enough about all of it to use it to our advantage and improve our health.


We know so little about it now. Someday, it could be the basis of most therapies.

How's it going? We're gonna turn into fucking vegetarians! According to scientists, all types of meat rot faster in our body and comes out slower from it. Who to believe!?!?


Eat a balanced diet and try to find good quality foods. That's about all we can do. I don't think this is a disaster; we have a lot to learn about the science of these organisms and what effect they have.

As a member of steemstem community on here, I am quite impressed with the way you carried out objective analysis and review of the unscientific belief about the consumption of chicken. We call it pseudoscientific or superstitious beliefs. The variation of body's microflora according to diets is totally a new area to me and my interest has been piqued along this line of research. On a lighter note, won't it be good if all of us can go for toxo screening? I can bet I don't have it simply because I suck at taking risks.

A really nice composition. Well done


Thanks. I'm not sure if we need to be screened or not. It's fairly benign in general, but researchers obviously are learning more about what it does to the brain.


Perhaps for us males, there might be no need. How about in females where the parasite has been implicated in pregnancy associated complications?

I have been dialysis patient @donkeypong for 16 years now, I started from Dec. 2001 and I am not dead yet considering my medical complications and I attribute it to my vitamin C intake which I know have protected my body's cells.
It is also good to protect our gut with live beneficial microorganisms like from Kombucha, yogurt or similar, or even those prepared lactobacilli strains for ingestion because they fight bad bacteria and digest our food for us for a better assimilation of our body.
Cats are still dirty though, dangerous to raise them because of their hairs.

AFAIK eating the poo wouldn't be so beneficial as most bacteria would die at the beginning of the digestial track.
What you should be considering is a fecal transplant which has supposedly been a thing in the past few years.


That could be true. It's difficult to get good bacteria to survive that digestive journey. Some foods are better delivery agents than others. I'm not even going to think about how cat poo would do. :) For this article, it was more of an illustration than a suggestion.

Very good topic, I understand that our body is prepared to consume all kinds of food, of course we should not exceed eating only fat, sweets, flours, we must have a balanced diet.

I didn't know about many of the things you wrote, had to find out by doing a lot digging

You are the nutrition you eat, not the psychological state of any animal that becomes your meat.

Funny because you'd think people will readily have accepted this by now, instead of finding ways to make themselves more unhappy with their nutritional choicis

I really enjoy eat chicken even if have some many bacterial, as far as I know the stomatch can disolve any kind of bacterial.

Why.....the cat still lokking at me😣

Don't you kidding me :O I can't believe what i just have read, that's insane.

  • @donkeypong It is true that we are what we eat, we must lead a healthy life. Natural and healthy food will give us the benefits of a perfect body and health. Vegetables are essential for the amount of vitamins they contribute to our body. A salad bowl in very refreshing and natural. Thank you for sharing this excellent publication. A special greeting and happy day to you, my friend.

Many of the parasites and bacteria that are in our bodies are there because of our environment and what we consume. The more meat and animal contact you have, the more likely you are to create allergies, diseases and some pathologies.

Cheap slacks from WalMart and cat poo dressing. I know there's more to this post, but for a million different reasons, those two are making me laugh my head off :)

Interestingly enough, I read another very good post yesterday titled "Toxoplasmosis - In Defense of the Cat" :)

This cat is soo cute
I love cats so much

something in health needs to be very guarded, just as I have been neglecting health, and now I have experienced many illnesses that are not easily treated, but I still try

Good post... Cute cat

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science and technology can change the world
in your post it's all new for me
i am waiting for the next

Thanks for the information.
I don't eat chicken but I would love to pet a cat

Oh i see ..


This is an interesting lesson. It reminds me of a joke ... One day I went into the shrinking process of the melody and expressed regret for her sorrow! "I have learned that we eat what we eat," he said, "and I have realized that I am nuts!"

But on one side of the comedy, I want to know more about bacteria and its relation with the field.

You wrote

"You are the nutrition you eat, not the psychological state of any animal that becomes your meat."

But it is known that for example stress in the animals before their get slaughtered affects it's flavor (I don't know if will affect the nutrition properties), it has to do with the lactic acid that gets released in the muscle fibers.
So in a sense their psychological state does affect what we eat!

That amazing the amount of diseases or viruses that we are exposed without realizing it because we trust that nothing happened to eat healthy or take the necessary medicines for our bodies but in reality is much more complex than that , there are many things I did not know but thanks for the information is very interesting

Never knew you have much idea about microbiome and how you gave out analysis on it , as its affect to the human body,but its gud cos i added to what i already know.... Thanks for the lecture...