What is it to be human? Thoughts on the Human Microbiome
As I sip my coffee in the morning, I am often consumed by thoughts of how we perceive ourselves. I have always been fascinated by the world of human perception, and when I began reading about the Human Microbiome, I realized we are living in a world that is more mysterious than ever. As science reveals more about how our bodies work, and how we are effected by the environment, more questions will arise concerning the daily practices we engage in concerning our "health".
Early in the 19th century, scientists began to theorize that most diseases were caused by tiny organisms and each illness had a corresponding germ. The "germ theory" became readily accepted and today, we are still operating under the paradigm of this bizzare notion. During America's industrialization, there was a push to bring the greatest amount of benefit to the largest number of people possible, with very effecient processes. This novel approach led to many improvements to our world, but also led us to some very unwise, unsustainable practices. The understanding of how the human body functions, and is effected by the the environment under the "germ theory", led to generalized treatments that could be produced on a massive scale. The "germ theory", however, was based on science that has now been challenged by a new theory...from new science.
The "new" science of the microbiome is absolutely mind boggling. It reveals something that should give us moments of uncertainty, concerning our dependance on antibiotics and our use of chemicals. This new theory comes from the revelation that our bodies actually have 10 times the amount of microbial cells than human cells. Not only that, but now it has been discovered that the bacteria which inhabit our bodies play a vital and interactive role with our human DNA, which effects immunity and disease as well. This synergistic role suggests that environmental pressure first modifies bacterial, microbial, and viral reactions; this in turn effects gene expression. This definitely puts a new spin on how we view bacteria and its role in our world.
When the very complex processes of the body are looked at from the "synergistic" approach, we are faced with new, profound questions concerning our daily practices, and how our lives are effected by them. We can begin to ask questions such as:
1) Should we continue to use products that have a known negative effect on our Microbiome? If our human experience is regulated by bacteria, should we be trying to kill bacteria by putting antibacterial agents into our bodies and environment?
2) Should we continue to develop treatment strategies that fail to address the role bacteria has in the disease process?
3) Should we continue to use industrial processes that have a negative impact on our environment, that would in turn effect our microbiome?
As someone who has been having a human experience for 49 years now, I have experienced much change with regard to my body and health. You probably have experienced a few things in your life as well, and with more answers comes more questions. I used to think that we humans control our environment. Now I know that while we seek control (which is a really bizzare notion...in my opinion), what we are really doing is effecting our environment, setting into motion incalcuable amounts of reactions which, in turn, control us...our thoughts...our actions...and all the processes of this human experience. If I take all that I have been taught, and compare it to all that I have learned, I am more determined than ever to discover what it is to be human...healthy...happy. I hope you, as well, will join us at Santa Rosa Strength in this quest for better health.