The human microbiome has become a major field of research, especially the intestinal microbial community, which plays a huge role in human health and disease.  We all have microbes in our gut, mouth, nasal passages and other “habitats” in and on us.  We have coevolved as “superorganisms” with these microbes who perform critical functions and provide services to us.

Today, studies show that we are around 90% deficient of gut bacteria.  But along with this we are also deficient in the biodiversity of bacteria due to our creation of artificial environments, chemical pollutants, our obsession with over sanitising and not spending enough time in nature.  Biodiversity of bacteria in the human organism creates a natural balance, without this balance the consequence is dis-ease.

Parallels of the Human Gut and the Soil

The microbial health of our gut is inextricably linked to the health of the microbes in the soil. We are at the stage now in our human evolution where we are just beginning to understand what microorganisms do and restore our collaborative relationship with microbiota not just in the human gut but in the soil.

Soil microorganisms, like bacteria and fungi, are what cycle the nutrients and water to plants and crops and ultimately to our food and our health.  The bacteria in the soil is like the “stomach” of plants.  They have a symbiotic relationship with plant roots and enable digestion of nutrients to happen so that the plant cells can assimilate them.  If these microorganisms are damaged, or not present in the soil then the food grown from it will not contain the necessary or balanced nutrients the human body requires.

Soil and Gut Health Solutions

Just as we have destroyed the vital microbes in the human gut through antibiotics, chlorine, chemicals used in farming and processed foods, we have also devastated the microbiota in the soil through the overuse of chemical fertilisers, fungicides, herbicides, pesticides and heavy tillage.

Reintroducing beneficial soil bacteria and fungi to depleted soil is akin to eating yoghurt to restore the right microbiota in the gut.  Repairing the soil comes in the form of traditional farming, natural soil care practices and bio fertilisers, and can be applied to small or large-scale agriculture.  When applied these practices increase yield and reduce the need for chemical fertilisers.  The best way to restore our gut health is to eat food that has been grown in natural, biological, living soil.

The Human Microbiome

Microbes in the human body aid digestion and maintain our immune system, just as soil microorganisms both digest nutrients and protect plants against pathogens and other threats.  For example plants form symbiotic associations with fungi that colonise their roots and extend the reach of the roots a hundred-fold.  These fungal filaments channel nutrients and water back to the plant cells, but the filaments are also used as communication systems for the plant to warn other plants of pests.  Interrupting these intricate pathways through tillage or digging up the soil thereby inhibits the plants immunity, just as interrupting the human gut microbiome depletes the overall immune system.

It is believed now that autoimmune and other diseases is owed to the disruption between our bodies and the natural microbial soil system that we coevolved with.  Zach Bush MD describes this in detail in the following video.

 

Sonja

At the end of the day, farming is all about producing food.  Blog author Sonja Kallio writes about adopting a regenerative approach to growing, to increase the nutrient density of food for a healthy population and a healthy planet.

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