Japanese people have special seaweed-digesting bacteria in their guts

A new study published in Nature has found that Japanese people have a special bacteria in their guts that allows us to digest seaweed:
The new study, published in Nature, reveals that these gut bacteria engaged in a gene swap, grabbing algae-digesting genes from marine bacteria that live on red algae like nori, the seaweed used to wrap sushi. The marine bacteria traveled on the seaweed into human digestive systems, where the crucial genes were transferred to bacteria in the gut.
I wonder if this really translates to Japanese people being able to eat more sushi than Americans can, as this article suggests. I certainly remember chomping on packets of seaweed for snacks when I was a kid — do you know any non-Japanese people who did the same and were not able to stomach it?

via Discover (Thanks, Bryan G!)

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