How’s Your Microbiome These Days?
I recently read an article suggesting that it’s harder to lose weight today than it was in the 1980s. Yeah. Made me do a double take, too. Here’s the sub-headline:
“A new study finds that people today who eat and exercise the same amount as people 20 years ago are still fatter.”
What?? I read on.
The gist of the article is that our microbiomes have changed over the past couple of decades. Like me, you may be wondering what a microbiome is. To oversimplify, it’s the bacteria living in your gut. The bacteria that should be living in your gut. Turns out we NEED bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses living in harmony with our innards.
And, it would seem, our diets are changing our microbiomes for the worse. Chemicals and prescription drugs along with the hormones and antibiotics that have been rampant in our food for so long are changing or outright killing off our microbiomes. And scientists now hypothesize that as a result we simply can’t process food as efficiently. And it’s making us fat.
I was following right along with the article, grateful to have been raised on homegrown farm food and glad I live in an area where people pay attention to such things. Then I came to this statement by Jennifer Kuk, a professor of kinesiology and health science at Toronto’s York University: “The fact that the body weights of Americans today are influenced by factors beyond their control is a sign that society should be kinder to people of all body types.”
And I got mad.
I agree that we should be kinder to people of all body types, but what’s this business about “factors beyond their control??” Instead of suggesting that we take control of our food system, eat REAL food instead of processed junk, and try to whip our microbiomes back into shape, Ms. Kuk effectively throws her hands into the air and says we should just be nicer since there’s nothing we can do to improve the situation.
Now, I know not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to access or afford real, fresh, unprocessed food. But I also know people who can, often choose not to. Convenience, affordability, and taste are common reasons. I know because I succumb to those very arguments more often than I like to admit.
But maybe, just maybe, there’s something we could to in addition to being kinder to people of all body types. Maybe we could look for ways to make unprocessed food more accessible. Maybe we could stop pumping animals full of antibiotics and hormones. Maybe we could stop using chemicals to force crops to grow in dead soil. Maybe we could work with nature instead of trying to force her to do what we want.
I know. Pie in the sky. But at least it’s apple pie made with pesticide-free fruit I picked just yesterday.