Published 12/14/2013. Last updated 1/4/2014.
The clear implication of all this for me is that there is a powerful relationship between our gut biomes’ well-being and the health of all our various systems and parts. Keeping our gut flora well balanced for the particular environments they encounter will vastly improve overall health in a wide variety of ways.
Michael Pollan states it well in his New York Times Magazine article “Some of My Best Friends Are Germs “ – which I highly recommend reading:
Human health should now “be thought of as a collective property of the human-associated microbiota,” as one group of researchers recently concluded in a landmark review article on microbial ecology — that is, as a function of the community, not the individual.
Such a paradigm shift comes not a moment too soon, because as a civilization, we’ve just spent the better part of a century doing our unwitting best to wreck the human-associated microbiota with a multifronted war on bacteria and a diet notably detrimental to its well-being. Researchers now speak of an impoverished “Westernized microbiome” and ask whether the time has come to embark on a project of “restoration ecology” — not in the rain forest or on the prairie but right here at home, in the human gut. (Pollan, 2013)
Jordan Rubin, who figured out how to heal himself when he was wasting away from terminal Crohn’s disease at 19, put it more succinctly, “You’re not what you eat, but what you digest.” (Rubin, 2003)
A concluding appreciation for our clever and invaluable guts:
Our gut’s knowledge, its constant evaluation of sensations we experience inside our bodies, along with information coming in from the outside world, is worth heeding. While the brain in our skull, which quickly gets well programmed with behavioral and moral shoulds, speaks to us in words and images and easily censors information, our gut communicates to us only in feelings and physical sensations so is incapable of self-deception.
If you want to know where you stand on something – such as whether you genuinely enjoy someone’s company, want to accept that new job offer, have found a home that is perfect for your needs, think you want to spend the rest of your life with someone – ask your gut, not your head. Your gut knows you well. Read those gut feelings THEN send that information up to your head for it to tell you whether your desires are feasible. Rely only on the brain in your skull and you will often find yourself making decisions that are not good for you – or you’ll just be chronically unable to make decisions.
If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. – Lao-tsu
Pollan, M. 2013). Some of My Best Friends Are Germs. New York Times Magazine, May 15 2013. See http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/magazine/say-hello-to-the-100-trillion-bacteria-that-make-up-your-microbiome.html?_r=0
Rubin, J.S. (2003). Patient Heal Thyself.
A version of this page content will appear in my forthcoming 2014 Oriental Medicine Journal article THE MICROBIOTA-GUT-BRAIN AXIS: The constant two-way communication between our guts and our brains.
© Copyright 2013-2014 Joan Rothchild Hardin. All Rights Reserved.