I watched the BBC Horizon programme called Allergies - Modern Living and Me. Its interesting conclusion was that in order for a human being to be healthy it needs to be subject to to the right bacteria from birth in order that it can educate our bodies. We need the right amount - and diversity - of good bacteria if we are to be healthy. Amazingly, normal birth through the vagina envelops a baby in important bacteria right from the start. So those born by Caesarean
section immediately get off to a
bad start - especially since they are often then exposed to a less
beneficial bacteria in intensive care wards. And if infants - especially
those younger than 1-year old - are given antibiotic courses, while
these might be necessary to kill off bad bacteria, the collateral damage
they do of also killing off good bacteria can lead to life-long
allergies. It also explains why we should try to avoid antibiotics at
any time, if we can. We need those health-giving mini-beasties, and
antibiotics work like a sledge-hammer to squash them all.
appears that modern living in sanitised surroundings, often far removed
from the bacteria of the great outdoors, is also a factor, especially
for growing children. So getting them out there in the open air and that
outdoor bacteria that our ancestors knew and loved will help to
programme their bodies to live a happier and healthier life. This lack
of engagement with the great outdoors is almost certainly responsible
for less healthy individuals, so if you love your children, get them
outdoors poking around for beasties. Horizon showed that this
outdoor bacteria is easily brought inside, and then spread around, and
that the family dog is a great ambassador in doing just that. So get out
to the park, in the garden, follow the lead of that dog!
is all particularly interesting to me because it helps prove just how
intimately we interact with the rest of creation. The billions of
bacteria we have on us - and especially within our gut - are not just
beneficial for our health: they are actually essential to life. And,
apparently, what is most important in all this is diversity. One
good bacterium is not enough; we need a variety. So while a given
probiotic might be great, a diversity of them is 'greater'. And fruit - a
'pre-biotic' - can help us to acquire them. It all begins to add up,
doesn't it, including that call for 'five a day'?
So how diverse is your life?