Maria Leilani Brown

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As humans, we are a living habitat for a mass of microorganisms.  They live in every part of us and actually outnumber us, in terms of cells, by roughly 10:1.  This means there are around 100 trillion bacterial cells in the human body and they account for 99.9% of our genes. (The human genome has 23,000 unique genes while the human microbiome has 2 million).

The microbiome is the term given to an ecosystem of bacteria, with all of the bacteria in the human body weighing approximately 3-4 pounds, about as much as the human brain.  Unfortunately, like all ecosystems currently, the human microbiome is losing diversity, resulting in an increase in autoimmune diseases, obesity, diabetes, allergies, celiac disease, and cancer, among other ailments. The endangered species and rates of extinction currently threatening the planet’s wildlife is happening inside of us as well.

Currently humans in the US and other industrialized nations have lost one third of our microbial diversity, mostly on our skin and in our digestive tracts.  

Excessive us of glyphosate (RoundUp) is a major contributor to the imbalance of our gut flora. When we consume produce and grain that has been sprayed with glyphosate, those chemicals kill the microbes in our digestive tracts. When this happens, the lining of our digestive tract can become permeable which physically manifests as leaky gut syndrome, which can include neurological disorders such as migraines, brain fog, gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, gas, and IBS, joint pain, allergies, mood disorders, and autoimmune diseases.

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photo credit:Genetic Literacy Project

Glyphosate is designed to kill weeds and pests, which unfortunately includes all the microbial life normally thriving in soil, thus degrading the soil and contributing to unsustainable agriculture, otherwise known as “conventional” agriculture. Therefore, when you buy organic, you are not only improving your health, but you are supporting organic farming practices. Better yet would be buying from local farmers employing regenerative soil practices.

Another reason we are losing diversity in our gut flora is excessive use of antibiotics, especially in early childhood. Evidence linking antibiotics to obesity can be seen in farm animals who are routinely given antibiotics which change the animals’ microbiota, hastening their growth.  Even a short course of antibiotics can have a huge, long-term shift in the body’s microbial environment. 

So what can we do? Don’t use RoundUp! In the grocery store, choose organic rather than “conventional” in the produce section. Choose organic especially when it comes to wheat, corn, and soy. Better yet, buy from regenerative farmers. Reduce antibiotic usage, only using when absolutely necessary. Eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and fermented foods. Treat your gut as a garden, not a battlefield. Antibiotics and pesticides are like bombs and chemical warfare, taking many microbial casualties. Organic grains and vegetables, on the other hand, are filled with prebiotics and are like the “soil” of the stomach. Fermented foods are like the “seeds” which need healthy soil to grow. In taking care of our microbiome, we take care of ourselves and our environment.

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