Our internal and External Ecosystems for Health
Understanding the ecosystem of microbial health in relationship to our body and that of our earth is paramount in understanding the health of both. If either of these ecosystem balances are disturbed, it allows the invasion of pathogens. In this article I will endeavor to bring awareness to this vital system in a simplistic manner, both in our body and that of the earth. Health is not a complicated process. Understanding some fundamental basics will go a long way in restoring balance to these systems. The reason as to why I put the soil of earth and the soil of our body in the same article is that both require deeper understanding. We are destroying our body and that of Earth purely because we have been fed erroneous stories that have taught us that bugs are bad. When we remove or destroy the bugs of our internal and external soil we begin a cascade effect. Bugs are one of the foundations to life form. All forms of plant life, animal life and human life are dependent on the health of the soil; Be it the soil of our digestive system or the soil of planet Earth. Let us begin with understanding the role of microbes in the soil though saying that, there is very little difference in either system.
Soil microorganisms are responsible for most of the nutrient release from organic matter. When microorganisms decompose organic matter, they use the carbon and nutrients in the organic matter for their own growth. They release excess nutrients into the soil where they can be taken up by plants. If the organic matter has a low nutrient content, micro-organisms will take nutrients from the soil to meet their requirements.
Did you know?
There are more organisms in a handful of soil than there are people on Earth, but most of them can only be seen under a microscope.
About a quarter of all the organisms in an agricultural soil are located in the surface 2 cm of soil.
At any one time, most soil organisms (>70 %) are inactive as soil conditions are not usually optimal.
Although there are a few pest nematodes species, there are over 95 non-pest species.
How do we help?
Minimise erosion, as soil organisms are predominantly located in the surface layers, which are most easily eroded. Mulching is a good habit to create as it keeps the moisture in the ground as well as provides food for the organisms.
Maintain or increase the organic matter content of soil, as organic matter is an important source of carbon, energy and nutrients for soil organisms. Compost your garden refuse. Use it as mulch. Make green fertilizer.
Use diverse rotations as they result in diverse inputs of organic matter and a diverse population of soil organisms. Permaculture is another form of planting whereby plants support one another and the soil.
Plant nitrogen-fixing plants as in pigeon peas and sesbania trees.
Choose crop rotations and management practices that decrease the suitability of soil for plant pathogens. Companion planting also supports the plant life.
Be patient, as soil biological processes take time to develop.
Our physical body;
From our mouths to the last process of the body’s evacuation, microbes are part of the GI Tract.
True Microbe fact – Without our microbes, we would cease to exist.
Fun microbe fact – the average healthy adult has 10 times as many microbial cells as human cells. How can we ignore the importance of these bugs?
The roles Microbes have on our body
- Microbes play defense. The trillions of microbes that live on and inside us protect us from pathogens simply by taking up space. By occupying spots where nasties could get access to and thrive, good microbes keep us healthy. As Eisen explains, “It’s sort of like how having a nice ground cover around your house can prevent weeds from taking over.”
- Microbes boost the immune system. Researchers at Loyola University demonstrated in a 2010 study how Bacillus, a rod-shaped bacteria found in the digestive tract, bind to immune system cells and stimulate them to divide and reproduce. The research suggests that, years down the road, those with weakened immune systems could be treated by introducing these bacterial spores into the system. These microbes could potentially even help the body fight cancerous tumors.
- Microbes protect us from auto-immune diseases. In his TEDTalk, Eisen describes being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes as a teenager after “slowly wasting away until I looked like a famine victim with an unquenchable thirst.” Because microbes help train the immune system, if the microbiome is thrown out of whack, it can alter the body’s ability to differentiate between itself and foreign invaders. Recent research into Type 1 Diabetes reveals that a disturbance in the microbial community could trigger the disease, in which the body kills cells that produce insulin. Microbial disturbances could be at the root of other auto-immune disorders too.
- Microbes keep us slim. Microbes play an important role in our body shape by helping us digest and ferment foods, as well as by producing chemicals that shape our metabolic rates.
- Microbes detoxify and may even fight off stress. Just as humans breath in oxygen and release carbon dioxide, microbes in and on us take in toxins and spare us their dangerous effects. A recent study also shows that people feeling intense stress have much less diverse bacterial communities in the gut, suggesting that there is a not-yet-understood interplay between microbes and stress responses.
We have been led to believe that our body, as that of Earth, has endless resources. These erroneous beliefs have got us into possibly more trouble than we realise. If we keep on depleting these resources, this life giving system will break down. We are seeing it through more chronic illnesse, as well as the demise of earth’s eco-systems.
5 Choices you can make
When you take care of your internal ecosystem, you naturally take care of the external ecosystem. Some examples are:
Eating foods that are clean, organic and locally supplied removes the burden of transportation,
Look at how traditional cultures included living fermented foods and beverages in their diets. Include these foods in your diet and boost your probiotics and digestive enzymes.
Reduce your meat consumption by having smaller portions, less often and choose to support local farmers that practice ethical farming.
Eliminate preservative foods that have little nutritional value.
Include living foods as in fresh greens, fruits, sprouts, nuts and seeds.
Find a spot in the garden where you can see bugs at work. A good time is early in the morning or in the late afternoon. Sit and be witness to their movements. The benefits: you quieten your mind as you sit in quiet observation. You get to spend time with yourself. You breathe and let life’s stresses dissolve. You feel the appreciation for life forms that are different to your own yet are as important. You experience gratitude for life.