For the record, we have no idea exactly how many bacteria live in our intestines, but scientists say there are more of them than there are cells in our bodies, and now we’re learning that this symbiotic relationship has been going on for hundreds of thousands of years.
This was determined using 50,000-year-old Neanderthal feces, analysis of which showed that some bacteria were already living inside our last common ancestor. This is interesting because literally every day we discover new tasks and the importance of bacteria, whose role goes much further than we expected – we already know that the gut microbiome affects metabolism, blood sugar levels, the ability to lose weight, sleep, and the likelihood of developing various diseases such as diabetes, cancer, sclerosis, heart disease Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and many others. In short, since our health is so dependent on these microorganisms, we should take care of them and learn as much as possible about them, especially since the modern lifestyle, full of processed food and antibiotics, is not conducive to their good health.
So researchers at the University of Bologna decided to take it upon themselves to identify our “oldest friends,” species that have been with us for so long that they must be associated with evolutionary advantages. In turn, the new analyses are intended to help prioritize them, protect them, and develop new methods to support them. To do this, the researchers took under the microscope fragments of very old feces found in a Spanish cave that have been attributed to Neanderthals. They were able to analyze the DNA of the microbiome found in them, gaining insights that link us to our relatives of the past.
The team found many bacteria known to populate the human gut, including Blautia, Dorea, Roseburia, Ruminococcus, Faecalibacterium or Bifidobacterium, so as it turns out these are much older than the history of homo sapiens. – Through DNA analysis we were able to isolate the core of these microorganisms shared with homo sapiens. This discovery allows us to claim that these microorganisms inhabited the intestines of our species long before this split between sapiens and Neanderthals, which occurred some 700,000 years ago. (. ) The results also allow us to understand which parts of our microbiome are crucial to our health, as they are integral to our biology from an evolutionary standpoint. Today, we are seeing a progressive reduction in the diversity of the microbiome as a consequence of lifestyle – this research can guide us in creating the right diet and lifestyle to combat this, the researchers explain.