An interesting thought struck me yesterday, as I sat at my desk reading up on the week’s latest stories. In Big Think[i], there was a nice article about “rewilding” our diets to improve our bacterial microbiome. There were a few excellent take-away points:
“The process of rewilding your diet is possible anywhere, through cues taken from hunter-gatherer tribes can work wonders. While Westerners douse themselves in antibacterial soaps and celebrate ‘clean’ diets, it turns out that a little – or a lot – of dirt is best.”
“Gut bacteria and fungi, which if isolated as a separate organ would weigh between two and six pounds, is revolutionizing our understanding of our nervous systems.”
“…maximizing your gut’s microbial diversity is key – increase your intake of multiple prebiotics in the form of plant fibers, as well as consume fermented foods and probiotics.”
CNN had an interesting article[ii] similar in nature, about the importance of our microbiome:
“Though words like ‘bacteria’ and ‘fungi’ might commonly be associated with infections or disease, the ones found in the microbiome are the peacekeepers of your body, helping digest food, fight disease and regulate the immune system.”
“Deep inside the Amazon jungle in Venezuela exists a bacterial gold mine belonging to the Yanomami, a remote, indigenous seminomadic community undiscovered until 2008….’They have about twice the diversity a Westernized population has…’ ‘These are extremely healthy people…”
“’We are trying to characterize what is different in their lifestyle in relation to ours…We want to understand what is it that is modulated by diet or may have disappeared with antibiotics or may not been acquired from birth because of C-section.’”
While I enjoyed both articles, and think they both make important and valid points, there’s something missing from both. Once again, there is absolutely no mention of our eradicated macrobiomes – which, these healthy, indigenous people (who are pooping on the ground, drinking unpurified water, living on the soil, etc.) obviously have on board.
But that’s not new. I’ve pointed that out to you many times. (For example, this post from just a couple of weeks ago.)
I then went on to read an article[iii] published in April about helminths in autoimmune disease.
“Autoimmune diseases are now estimated to affect almost 10% of the world’s population and collectively represent truly massive global disease and financial burdens.”
“Most autoimmune diseases have no cures and are not knowingly preventable. Disconcertingly, for several decades, the developed world as seen steady increasing incidence of autoimmune disease.”
“Concordantly, the old friends’ hypothesis suggests that various organisms, including helminths and microbiotas, have long coevolved with their mammalian hosts and act as inducers of immunoregulatory circuits. This hypothesis has a sound rationale given that infectious agents, including helminths, are known to be potent modulators of T cell function and that dysregulation of T cell subsets …are fundamental in autoimmune disease processes…Of note, an inverse association has been observed between the prevalence of certain helminths and autoimmune diseases.”
“Ten clinical trials indicate that controlled, low-dose helminthic therapy is safe in IBD…”
And then finally….
“The intrinsic talent of parasitic worms to skew the immune response from Th1 to Th2/Treg has led to the idea of using live worms as immunotherapy (helminthic therapy) or, preferably, seeking compounds in helminth secretions for use as immunomodulatory drugs.”
There is a depressing irony here. While on the one hand, scientists state again and again that we need to “rewild” ourselves, that our depleted biomes are at fault in the staggering increase in inflammatory disease, that there is no inflammatory disease in indigenous people who have remarkably diverse biomes, and so forth…as soon as helminths are discussed, they state that a pharmaceutical product would be preferable.
So much for going wild.
[iii] Smallwood, TB, Giacomin, PR, Loukas, A, Mulvenna, JP, Clark, RJ, Miles, JJ. Helminth Immunomodulation in Autoimmune Disease. Frontiers in Immunology. 2017:8(453).