The Human Superorganism: How the Microbiome Is Revolutionizing the Pursuit of a Healthy Life by Rodney Dietert
I'm extremely impressed with this book.
It's very well documented, including both primary research and building on four decades of game-changing discoveries. Far from being dry, it happens to be both amazingly exciting and potentially a life saver for us all.
What the hell? Am I blowing the lid off of the is non-fiction book?
Possibly yes, possibly no. The fact is, nothing in here is wholly unique. The emphasis and the well-reasoned possibility and direction of future research is.
So what is this about? Put simply, or even extremely simply, is that we are made up of two sets of genomes. The mammalian genome topping out at about 22k base pairs making up about 10% of our body's biology, and the other 90% of the genomes which work in concert with all of our mammalian parts to convert energy and regulate EVERYTHING else. They the true puppeteers of our lives and it has been that way since the very beginning, and just as true for every other living creature on the planet. We are each Biomes of huge complexity, and what was more interesting, at least to me, is learning that our guts are only a small part of the picture. Every part of our body is made up of particular regulatory patches of bacteria working in concert. If they fall out of balance or if a particularly clever subset fills a vacuum caused by a particular die-off, then we get sick, increase our chances for huge numbers of non-communicable diseases.
Antibiotics cause obesity.
Get it? The proper flora dies with the disease and then weakens us to further complications. That's pretty standard stuff to learn these days and we get it. The problem is, the normal biological model is slow to catch up and treat the whole SYSTEM, including research into methods of increasing not just classes of bacterial strains, but even long, long lists of specific ones, including Akkermansia Munciniphilia, which has been shown to specifically reduce abdominal fat, and I'm just mentioning only this one.
The rest of the short list in this book targets a lot more than just obesity. It turns out that the widest range of non-communicable diseases are covered here as well: from depression, obesity, cancer, heart disease, autism, Alzheimer's disease, to a much longer possible list.
You've heard that processed and pasteurized foods are directly contributing to a loss of our personal Biotas, right? That once we stopped fermenting our foods and stopped eating raw, then completely different sets of not particularly helpful bacteria sets up camp in our guts and skin and every other part of our bodies, right?
Hell, I'll attest to the viability of everything here. I changed my diet to 50% raw greens and suddently discovered that I was no longer depressed, lost the gastrointestinal maladies, lost weight, had a brighter outlook on life, got better sleep, and generally became a new man. WHO KNEW? lol This was years ago for me, and the changes remained because I encouraged a new biota in my gut.
This book takes it further, with TONS of reference material taking up 1/4 of the book, calling out for a change in our biological outlook, ending in a change in paradigm.
So it turns out that if we treat our symbiotic partners as PARTNERS, they can heal us directly. Huh. Who'd have thunk? The fact that our healthy and natural bodies are only *slightly* mammalian, that the fully mapped Human Genome Project surprised the living hell out of us with the realization that (*we* as in our Human DNA) is only about a 1% of a person's complete biota, and that in treating only it, we're basically spitting in the wind.
The trick is to recolonize our biota, to have a very specific game plan for each individual, since while there's over 10,000 bacterial species that work closely with mankind, any one of us might have somewhere around a 1000 of them in current residence, and it's pretty plain that mothers pass along anywhere between 42% to 78% of their "additional" biota to their babies at birth, so similarities ARE genetically passed on, but only a small portion of those genetic similarities are human. It it worth noting that the range I just mentioned represents C-Section babies or those that actually travel through the vagina. C-Section babies, unbenownst to most of modern medicine, leaves our babies, (including myself and my daughter) with incomplete biota, leaving us a LOT more susceptible to autism and all the other non-communicable diseases I mentioned.
Autism used to be rare, but now it hits 1/68 children. That's a 500% increase in 40 years and it's only getting worse. This isn't even a selection bias.
Fortunately, the term Rebiosis is a bit of a hopeful term, because it means bringing us back into a healthy biota at any age. It's MOST important for newborns, but of course we could all use a break from peanut and wheat allergies, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, even anxiety and depression by JUST GETTING THE BALANCE RIGHT. Huh. Cool.
Modern medicine has a lot of research it still has to do, but we as a people really need to be aware that this isn't some fad. We are a lot more than a single set of genes and we've known this for a very long time. It's time to treat the whole system and stop trying to just treat the Mammal.
I know I'm not doing the book great justice with just this little blurb. It deserves to read and digested for yourself. Pun not intentional.
(Or maybe it was, a little.)
Thanks goes to Netgalley for this wonderful book!
View all my reviews