Science Podcasts

Naked Scientists episode

Sat, 17th May 2008

Your Bacterial Body

Campylobacter (c) Photo by De Wood; digital colorization by Chris Pooley. USDA, ARS, EMU.

Come with us on a tour of your body to discover how the bacteria that live on and in you play an important role!  Bad breath bacteria, good gut bugs and the ones that escape through the other end all make an appearance, as we find out how bacteria are essential to your health and how probiotics could prevent or even treat asthma and allergies.  Plus, we find out how clot busting drugs could treat brain haemorrhages, why pilot whales are the cheetahs of the sea and how a robot could give you a full head of hair.  Plus, in a smelly kitchen science we ask if coughs and sneezes can spread diseases, then what about flatulence?

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In this edition of Naked Scientists

Full Transcript

  • 16:54 - Bacteria and Bad Breath

    Your mouth is home to millions of bacteria - some of them cause bad breath, or could lead to infections elsewhere in the body - but why are they there?

  • 22:13 - What is fight bite?

    They say thereís something called fight bite which happens when people get bitten by other people. They get a bad infection. Whatís that all about?

  • 22:43 - Can mouth bacteria cause heart problems?

    Iíd heard in the past that oral bacteria can cause heart valve problems and hip joint infections. Is this true and which bacteria are involved?

  • 24:08 - Do toungue scrapers work?

    The new toothbrushes that Iíve seen adverts for on the TV have got a sort of scraper that youíre supposed to scrape along your tongue. Should we be using these things? Are they actually beneficial?

  • 33:15 - Kitchen Science - Food Poisoning and Passing Bacterial Wind

    Campylobacter is the most likely cause of food poisoning in the UK, but how does it make us ill? And can flatulence transmit bacteria, just like a cough or sneeze?

  • 39:56 - Probiotics for Allergies

    Good bacteria help us with our digestion, and maybe even help to prevent infection. They could also protect us from allergies and auto-immune diseases like eczema...

  • 46:47 - Did Dinosaurs Die Young?

    I am curious about how long the large dinos lived. I have a vague and possibly incorrect memory of hearing on a TV special that the large herbivores could live very long lifespans, up to 1,000 years. Then recently I heard on a science podcast that the T Rex only lived about 20 ye...

  • 55:21 - Do gut bacteria make vitamins?

    I read somewhere that gut bacteria makes some of our vitamins for us.

  • 56:08 - Are we washing off our skin bacteria using antibacterial soap?

    Are we washing off our skin bacteria using antibacterial soap? Can we put them back perhaps with some sort of lime yoghurt?

  • Can stifling a sneeze do you damage?

    I have heard the when people sneeze it travels out of around 100ks per hour. Some people hold their sneeze in by either closing the mouth and nose or it just doesn't get let out. My question: Can this cause a brain aneurysm or any harm to the body when the sneeze is stopped in t...



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Hello Chris, After hearing about the possibility that naked farts may spread diseases much like coughing and sneezing, we were wondering if Brittney Spears and Paris Hilton could be considered public health risks since they don't wear anything to filter their exhaust? Sue and Steve Cortland, NY, USA Steve, Tue, 27th May 2008

A comment regarding "probiotics". I have seen reports where they have given newborn children substitute for breast milk and that report showed that the development of the intestinal bacterial flora depends on what types of carbohydrates they add to the substitute. Providing certain types of carbohydrates can select for a flora dominated by "good" bacteria. Lack of these lead to domination of "bad" bacteria. I am afraid I cannot remember what types of carbohydrates that was coupled to what type of bacteria. The risk of inflammation in the intestine was lower if the "bad" bacteria could be avoided, which thus could be done with carbohydrates.
This is a relatively new field of research, sometimes referred to as "prebiotics". One implication is that lack of certain carbohydrates, not necessarily degradable such but could be fibres from fruit and vegetables, could potentially alter the intestinal bacterial flora with an increasing risk of inflammations.
It might be even more true that "you are what you eat". henrik_hansson, Thu, 29th May 2008

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