We usually assume that technology and science will improve our quality of life and lengthen it, but truth be told that’s not always the case.
Yesterday I read an article that my friend sent to me regarding an indigenous tribe discovered by a military helicopter, flying over an uncharted area within the Amazon, in southern venezuela. This tribe (known as the Yanomami People) has had no contact with the modern world, that we are so well acquainted with. It is assumed that the tribe’s ancestors settled in this location just after the ice age and have called it home ever since. True to a hunter and gathers lifestyle and diet, they mainly eat small birds, mammals, frogs and occasionally tapirs and wild bananas. Their water is collected form a nearby river just 5 minutes from their settlement.
This discovery would mean that these people are living a lifestyle the closest to what the human body was designed for. So the big question posed was ‘How does their body’s functioning systems and microbes differ for ours?’. My biggest question is regarding their guts, of course, ‘Is their digestive process stronger than ours?’, ‘Are they able to process food that we are too sensitive to?, and I’m not just talking about us IBS folk.
What are Microbes?
Microbes (Micro-organisms such as bacteria found on the skin and in the gut) are an important part of our body’s defence against disease, we have them on the inside and out. However research has shown that due to modern medicine, the use of soap and various other synthetic substances have caused our microbes to be altered, in-turn developing modern illnesses such as IBS, IBD, Asthma and diabetes. Not good!
A doctor from the New York University School of Medicine, Dr Domingues-Bello, compared the microbes of modern man with microbes from the Yanomami people and found that the microbes found in their gut and on their skin were 40% more diverse than ours who live in the modern world.
When a child is born they obtain microbes from the mothers birth canal, and infancy is the most vital stage in the development of building a strong immune system, which enables the child to fight disease later in life. However due to modern medicine it is known that a child is prescribed antibiotics in the first 2 years of their life, this alters the microbes and weakens the immune system leaving a window open for disease to develop later.
In my previous post I mention that the gut controls the immune system and metabolism, if you have a poorly digestive system the rest of your body is out of balance. It was/is vital to human’s survival that we are able to fight off common viruses, if not we would all die of the common cold and we would become extinct pretty quick.
When Dr Domingues-Bello tested the microbes in the Yanomami people’s gut she was shocked to discover the high diversity of microbes, “We think [microbes] are providing a lot of important roles in digestion and communicating with our immune system.”
When we are born we have a natural antibiotic defence, a feature to having bacteria, but due to the use of antibiotics our natural form does not have an opportunity to flourish. Dr Domingues-Bello also found that the Yanomami people have a natural antibiotic resistance, regardless of never having been exposed to modern antibiotics.
So what microbes are we missing? Can we get them back? Are probiotics enough?
When a child is born we are pretty tough little buggers, if you eat a small amount of dirt form the garden (which we’ve all done, I know I did) it’s unlikely to kill us in fact it might even do us some good by adding bacteria that are can’t get from our overly scrubbed veggies. Our obsession with cleanliness is not a healthy one. We need to build our defence up in order to fight nasties naturally and give our immune system a chance to develop and strengthen, maybe if we did this, we could prevent chronic illnesses.