How’s Your Microbiome These Days?

farm market

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.

Categories: Food, Nature

6 Comments »

  1. Thanks for the data-driven excuse for needing to continually shed 10 lbs no matter my gym time. Personally I think our societal weight gain is in direct correlation to the increase in caffeine fixation. Just saying. There is a BIG difference between a cup of Joe from time past and that latte swirling in the to go cup.

  2. Thank you Sarah. I have also been reading about our microbiome in reference to its effect on beating disease, in particular cancer. Our gut health is so much more important than we have known. One other thing I found interesting, we don’t play in the dirt like we used to and our produce is cleaned/scrubbed much more than it used to be. Maybe not a bad thing but we are washing away a lot of microbes we used to ingest. Good ol’ veggies grown in the dirt, picked, rinsed, eaten. On the way out to the garden right now.

  3. Interesting! I’ve been working out now for three years and last year I achieved over 349 workouts in a year. I have changed my diet extensively and take a a daily probiotic. It’s very difficult to not want fast food and goodies from my favorite bakery but it’s just not worth the fight to lose the weight. I try my best to eat clean as I was raised on homegrown food and lots of outdoor times. We kids got good and dirty running through the woods and making mud pies back in the day.It’s really something to think about. 😊

    • Wow! That’s a lot of workouts! Michael Pollan once wrote something to the effect that you can eat all the junk food you want–so long as you make it yourself from REAL ingredients. You have to REALLY want Doritos to try and make them yourself!

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