We are linked to our microbiome, the billions of beneficial bacteria that each of us has swarming in and on our bodies. They outnumber our human cells 10 to 1, making an argument that we may be more bacteria than human. Thanks to the National Institute of Health’s Human Microbiome Program, we have a much better understanding of the bacteria, fungi, one-celled archaea and viruses that we share a home with. We have a clearer picture of what makes a healthy human, and not surprisingly, it’s closely linked to our tiny friends.
Our vitality and wellbeing is dependant on our microbiome, but we have unknowingly wreaked havoc with this delicate balance by overuse of antibiotics and consumption of highly processed food.. Andrew Gewirtz published a paper in “Nature” last year which shows that small amounts of emulsifying agents found nearly universally in processed foods, damages the microbiome and intestinal cells. He made the practical recommendation to avoid any processed food, adhering to a whole foods diet. Sound advice, but when you think about where the vast majority of our whole foods come from you have to think of the soil.
Just as we unknowingly destroyed the microbes in our bodies, we have systematically been destroying those in the soil through the use of artificial fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides and pesticides. The food we eat is dependant on the microbes in the soil, just as humans are dependant upon the microbes in our bodies. These soil microbiomes do much more than nourish the plants they sustain, as told by Michael Pollan, “Some researchers believe that the alarming increase in the West may owe to a disruption in the relationship between our bodies and their ‘old friends’ –the microbial symbionts with whom we co evolved.”
We are what we eat, reintroducing microorganisms to the soil benefits our earth, but ultimately saves our own health as well.