We’ve gone into the microbiome the same way we’ve gone into many continents on the earth – armed, aggressive, and primed to destroy. “Kill ‘em all; let God sort them out,” as they used to say in Texas (where I’m from originally).
Not a very enlightened way to move forward into an unknown territory! But historically, that’s been our pattern. And we did the very same thing when we started exploring the microbiome – that world of things too small for us to see with the naked eye.
Louis Pasteur spotted those little bugs in his 19th century microscope, called them “germs” and set about wiping them out as fast as possible.
We’re horrified by the thought of “bugs” on our skin and inside out gut, and because we don’t understand them, our first instinct is to get rid of them.
Of course, if you succeeded in sterilising your own gut, you would die instantly.
Remember – you ARE the bacteria. They ARE you. 90% of your cells are bacterial cells. There is no such thing as a “germ,” – there are only beneficial and harmful bacteria. And generally the harmful ones are only harmful because the system that contains them has been knocked out of balance, and they have overgrown their environment.
But to this day, we still use antibacterial hand soap and cleaners, even though we know that
- we can’t kill all the bugs and
- it’s not healthy for us to try. 1
Time to reboot – and actually use all the fresh scientific information that we have discovered.
Time to get the new operating system installed!
So, let’s get a little more up close and personal with these little critters who are going about their business, deep inside your inner recesses. Who are they, and what do they want?