Don’t be scared of microbes cause we are microbes
Our bodies are ecosystems
Posted on 29.12.2020
Author Katarina Kostić
Don’t peel your fruits and veggies, eat nuts with skin on, don’t stress if you can, grow your food, create healthy soil, ferment audaciously and get your hands dirty.
You may think that human evolution started a couple of million years ago with Australopithecus.. Or with the first global migrations of gender Homo.. Or with hunter-gatherer cultures settling down just after the last Ice Age giving birth to our present civilisation… But if you think in deep time, you might “see ourselves as a part of a web of gift, inheritance and legacy stretching over millions of years past and millions to come... “ like Robert Macfarlane suggested in his great book Underland (by the way, everyone should read it).
It all started some 4 billion years ago, in an explosive, young and turbulent world so different from the one we know, when the first bacteria species appeared close to hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. So they say, but life could evolve simultaneously in many different times and many different places.
Since that moment, all other creatures, humans included, through all of the epochs, coevolved with microbes as their descendants and beautiful living expressions of symbiosis - that powerful force that keeps us all united in this unique community of life we call Earth.
That is why you should not be scared of microbes. Because, we are them.. Our bodies are ecosystems composed of much larger numbers of microbial than human cells. During evolution, we’ve learned to depend and live in peace with each other inside our bodies. Every species has its own functions and one part of them is to help others fulfil theirs. That is symbiosis at work. I am there for you, you are there for me.
So when we eat we should do it for the whole of the human ecosystem. Microbes eat fibres from our diet. It passes almost intact through our bodies but when it finally reaches our colon, our microbes start to gorge on it and produce compounds that seem only they can produce - anti-cancer short-chain fatty acids. And make us healthy. Happiness is closely related to microbial diversity in our bodies.
Gardening is a beautiful way to collaborate with other species
It goes that far that in us - humans, and possible in the great majority of other species, a huge proportion of our immune system is actually in our GI tract. Seen from a microbial perspective, our guts are heavens!
There are 10 times more bacterial cells in our intestines than human ones. Our brains don’t actually remember well our previous illnesses and infections but our bacterias do. They are our first line of defence. They recognise the intruders first and signal the brain. With a good reason, the gut microbiome is called the “Second brain”.
Our reproduction itself requires bacteria. It has been observed that colonies of lactobacilli living in our vaginas produce lactic acid that serves as a protection from pathogenic microorganisms (same thing happens in our jars when we ferment and in the pile of compost in our garden). It’s all connected and we are all connected.
Our indigenous bacteria protect us everywhere in countless ways that we are only beginning to understand. And now, in the middle of the first global pandemics of the century, this knowledge is more important than ever:
* The healthy microbiota is vital to our nutrition, metabolism, pathogen resistance, and immune function, and varies with diet, lifestyle, and environment.
* You know what this means: don’t peel your fruits and veggies, eat nuts with skin on, don’t stress much if you can, grow your food, create healthy soil, ferment audaciously and get your hands dirty
Symbiotic planet - Lynn Margulis
“For to think in deep time can be a means not of escaping our troubled present, but rather re-imagining it; countermanding its quick greeds and furies with older, slower stories of making and unmaking. At its best, a deep time awareness might help us see ourselves as a part of a web of gift, inheritance and legacy stretching over millions of years past and million to come, bringing us to consider what we are leaving behind for the epochs and beings that will follow us. Underland, Robert Macfarlane”
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