I have recently been listening to a few interesting shows on Radio 4 looking at our microbiomes and quite frankly I was blown away! For starters, there are more bacteria in our bodies than actual cells that make us! What! How??!
What is the microbiome? Well it was described as the collection of bacteria within your digestive system and respiratory system. These aren’t just passively sitting there though, they help with digestion and more things than we know, still being discovered. Each microbiome is independent to the individual person and reflects the diet you have, where you live, what pets you have and they change on an almost daily basis but you still have the general ecosystem that you have had for a long time. This is what it is, an environment inside you and studying it is more ecology, well micro-ecology than it is parisitolgy or the other ‘ologies’ that there are.
We are only just discovering the effects that these little beasties are having on us, how they not only change us internally, fixing conditions and illnesses but how they also affect our moods and how we think. People with high fibre diets, especially those who do not eat meat had a tendency to have a better, more diverse microbiology and as in the wider environment, diversity is key.
It has even been shown that you don’t just get more bacteria from ingesting them but from the very air we breath and that people who visited cleaner environments with less pollution such as woodlands, had a better microbiology. If these bacteria can change the way we think, reduce depression and other mental health issues and just make us feel better, well, we all need to walk in woodland more, in open country, the wilder places.
So, another reason to make sure that the nature reserves we look after, the copse down the road, the grassy margins to our fields not only stay for the wildlife but because it physically changes us and WILL make you a happier, healthier person.