E. coli doesn't just give you food poisoning—it can also help you get essential nutrients
Unlike many gut microbes, most people know E.coli by name. It shows up in the news mostly thanks to food poisoning stories resulting from contaminated water and workers not washing their hands. But many strains are a normal part of our digestive system. In fact, the reason E.coli outbreaks are so common is at least partially because it’s so common in our gut and those of other animals.
Until recently, researchers thought it was just another gut squatter, sponging off our digestion for micronutrients like iron—and in constant tension with the host for control of resources. But a game-changing new study from the University of Colorado at Boulder suggests the little bacterium actually helps us absorb more iron. Researchers hope it may eventually lead to new and more successful treatments for iron-deficiency anemia.