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I W A T C H

The Good Bugson Our Tongues

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They live on our tongues, millions of them, And it's a good thing too, Without these friendly

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bacteria,

we might be more vulnerable

to some very nasty bugs.

BY JOSIE GLAUSIUSZ

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P LANrs Us!~rr T() MAKf~PRan~I~S, tratcs,.when ~)ro,kendown by symbiotic ~O1lgtlesof fi-cshlykilled r:\ts,sliced tl1em

Vegetarians eat plenty of It, Salami is preserved in it, rrhe

compound in question is nitrate, bugs, such as,S'lumonclln,Shigcllll, and

Eschcrichin coli 0157:1-17,the bacterium

bacteriathat live m our moutlls, may pro- Into front and rear ~ectlon~, and then tect us again~t potenti:\lly murderou~ ground eachin ~altwater.rl'hcy tllen put

the homogenized tonbrucsin petri dishes and harvestedthe bactcria tllat bebranto

and ever since the 1970sit hasbccn seen

asa dietary evil. Nitrate-contaminated that sickened thousands of]apanese multiply. They found that while the

well water has been linked to rare cases

of oxygen-starved blue babies,while ni- Lci~"crthasbccn su~piciousof tIle pur-

trosamines-nitratc compounds fonncd

schoolchildren last year. front sectionsof tl1etongtles housedfew

bactcria, the hcavil}' pitted back halves ~upportcd a thriving population of

ported ill effects of nitratcs

for ~omc

time. Although the link Stllphylococc11.\.,l'cill1'i, rrhese microor-

between blue-baby ~yn- drome and nitrates in drinking water has bcen well establishcd-bacteria in well water convert ni- trate into lutritc, which in- tcr~"cresWitll tIle ability of the baby'sbloodstream to ferry oxygen-there is no evidence that such tainted water posesa hazard to in-

fants more than three achs-and in ours-might bc sufficient

months in age or to chil- drcn and adults.Alld whilc nitrosamines have been shown to incrca~ctile ri~k of stomach c,1ncer,stuJies

havefJiled to show tllat ni- 0157:1-17 to SIllm011cllll-can survive

gani~m~ grab oxygen ~rom nitratc-a compound formed fi-om onc atom ofni- trogen and thrcc o~'oxygcn-and use it to digest carbohydrates. In tllC process they form nitrite, which has only two oxygen atoms, Lcif:crt and Dllncan think tllat when nitrite is swallowed, it rcact~Witll stom- ach acid to form nitric oxide, a g:\Sletl1al to many bactcria,Altllough it might secm that tile hydrochloric acid in rats' stom-

to kill any bug that cntcrs, t)le two rc- searchers havc shown that this simply is not so. When food enters the stom- ach, it~ acidity decreasesfor up to two hours, and many bacteria-from E, coli

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In ours,

epuactcrlapactlcpOCS

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In ra s

ongues-an

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tl";lt~ on tllcir own arc car- this weakenedacid onslaught and tJ'avel

farther into the intestine, where they multiply and callSCgastroenteritis, Bllt when Leifcrt anJ Dlmcan aJJcd nitrite to varying concentrations of hy-

bles, particularly green, Jrochloric acid in a test tube, tlley found leafy ones; ~ome ~tllJies that the compounds produced killed havc shown thatvegctari- off SIl11110ncllll,Shigella, and E, coli :ilL"havelower than aver:\ge 0157 :1-17, all of which surviveimmersion

cent--come from vcgeta-

nitrate~-80

verse,in fact: most dietary

cinogenic. Qllite the re-

to 90 per-

Jc:lthratc~(romcancer.

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tOXIC, el crt antI ]) uncan

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nitrate

IS so

in hYllrochloricacid,Thu~ . . they b hclicve

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t lat t lC mtrate-consummg

rats, tongues I1CIp t I1elr.

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I10Sts(cstroyi

acterla

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wondered,why is it a com- poncnt o~'ollr saliva?Could it bc that ni- trate ha~some beneficial effect? Now

ach cancer, their cxpcrimcnt~ haveshown that bac- pit~ with calcillm carbonate, which pre-

rats, saysLei~"crt,intllse the saliva-filled

pathogenicbacteria,Thc relationship bc- twccnl";\t and bug secmsto be synlbiotic:

during the digestion of some meats- havc been implicatcd asa causeof stom-

t~;

But according to microbiologists teria living in pit~ at the back of rats'

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Carlo Lcifert and Callum Duncan of tl1C

tongues convert ni tra te

into ni tri tc,

vents thesewatery wells ~rombecoming acidic and killing the bacteria,

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University of Abcrdcenin Scotland,ni-

which, when swallowcd, reacts with

Many of thc bacteriain our mouths

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trateshavcreceivedtoo muchbadpress,

stomachacid to forln a potent antimi-

arcnot sobeneficial.rIlle acidstheypro-

i

Moderateamountsarcnot dangcrousto

crobialagentthatkills pathogenicbacte-

duce dissolve tooth enamel. Leifcrt

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ad~lts,thercscarchcrssay.Morcover, riathatinfiltratetIleintcstinc~,

thinksthatnitrite-prodllcingbacteria,

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Lelfert and Duncan have found that ni-

Leifcrt

and J)llncan

cut out

the

which hc has also follnd

living

in the

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mouths of humans, pigs, pigeons, rab- bits, and goats,may playa defensiverole against bacteria that causetooth decay. These bacteria are resistant to tlleir own acids, but an acid-nitrite combination kills them. More evidence that the nitrite-pro- ducing bacteriamay protect againsttooth decay and stomach cancer may come from a study that Leifert is working on with Hong Li, of Yunnan Normal Uni- versity in China. They are studying the rl!ral Yi, Bai, and Tai peoples living in Yumlan, a province near Laos, who suf- fer almost no tooth decay or stomach

. cancer.Their diet consistsalmost entirely of vegetables,many cured in nitrite, and small amounts of preserved ll1eats. Leifert and Li plan to comparethe healtll of tlle rural populace Witll that of urban Yi, Bai, and Tai to find what effect a change of diet has on the incidence of disease.It may be, saysLeifert, that ni- noitesin tlleir diet ll1ayevenprotect tIlell1 againstHclicobactcrpylori, the bacterium that hasbeen linked to bOtIl stoll1achul- cers and stomach cancer. Just recently Leifert has founa tIlat a combination of nitrite, hydrochloric acid, and vitamin C canrapidly kill the fungus tIlat causesoral candidiasis, which in many pcople with

AIDSis antibiotic-resistantandachronic

If you'dliketo knowmoreabolJthowwemakewhiskeyhereInTennessee,dropusa line

probl~m.,

Lelfcrt

ISnot tI1Conly rcsearcher to

YOU'RE

LOOKING

AT the differencebetween

havedetectedanantibacterialeffectfrom

nitrites in saliva. A teall1 of medical re-

searchersledbyNigel Benjaminof St. Bartholomew'sHospitalin Londonre-

cently

tested the ~10tion ~hat li~kil~g

woundsm;lYhelpkIll bacteria.Benjamm

asked14healtllYvolunteerstolickboth

sidesof oxidelevelsintheskinshotupdramati- tlleir handsand tOW10tllat nin"ic

Jack

Daniel's

K entu

ckyourb

Tennessee

bon.

Whiskey

and

a

At our distille1Yin the Tennesseehills, we

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burn ncks of hard maple until

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C arcoa.

1 Th

en we

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rnc

e our

they become

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1Skey, drap

ca!ly.He suspectstl~a~so!ncth~nl?on.tIle

skinhelpsconvertIUn1teI11tol1ltncOXidc

by drop

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through that charcoalto mellow

.

,

WhileLeifcrtandDuncanbelieveit's

1tS flavor.

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our

Some folks

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eo.

call Jack Darnel s

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overnment

g makesusa

time to reassessthecffects of nitrates on

levelsof IUn"atcfertilIzers. Suchpollution

ourhealtll,theydon'tdismisstllChazards a

posed~y,water"co,~taminatcdbyhi.gh

on,

says our charcoal mellowin

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cantriggerthegrowthoftoxicalgal

theywouldliketo bloomsandsubsequentfishkills. changetheperception But

tIlat run.atesin vegettbl~ arebad. ,.At tIle

moment, peoplearc tryll1g to m;tke lower

and lower limits

conccntration," saysLcifcrt.

think respect that to human tllere's a consull1ption, rethinking that's I would go-

for vegetable nitrate

"And with

(Tennessee Whiskey.

.

If you re lookmg

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iller ence,

we

e 1eve one

will tell YOUall YOUneed to know.

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Whiskey .40,43% alcohol by volume (80-86 proof) . Distillcd and Bottled by

JackDanielDistillery,LemMotiow,Proprietor,RoutcI, Lynchburg(Pop361),Tennesscc37352

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