Down to Earth

Many of us were taught that microbes—and bacteria in particular—were dangerous pathogens, and the safest thing human beings could do was create a sterile, bacteria-free environment. But in fact microbes are absolutely essential to human health, the health of the soil, and to pretty much all life on earth.
Dr. Emeran Mayer is a gastroenterologist, executive director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, and the director of the UCLA Microbiome Center. And he’s author of the new book, The Gut-Immune Connection. We talk about how the human microbiome functions, how it’s stressed by the standard American diet (SAD) and lifestyle—and the deep interconnections between the human gut and the destruction of the soil microbiome by intensive chemical agriculture. And yes, there are good solutions—if we have the knowledge and will to make them happen.

Photograph created and produced by photographer Ken Pivak

2’39 why so much research on the microbiome
2’59 the role of computing power in microbiome study
3’33 the change of thinking about bacteria, from pathogens to friends
4’42 what microbes do in the body–digestion, metabolism, communication
5’30 how microbes get into us
5’44 hydra—one of the earliest creatures colonized by microorganisms
6’14 evolution keeps what works well
7’10 the microbiome of the mother affects the fetus before birth
7’49 microbes introduced at birth and the microbiome develops through breast milk and then food
9’00 highly processed foods starve the microbes and mess up metabolism
9’56 the ecosystem of microbes are like a community of workers
10’30 antibiotics also kill microbiology
11’15 soil microbiome
11’42 different microbiomes in different types of soil
12’49 soil microbiome loss mirrors human microbiome loss
13’28. the principles of interaction of the soil microbiome is the same as the interactions in the gut microbiome
16’28 chemical agriculture and unhealthy lifestyle constitute the “destructive duo”
17’11 industrial agriculture “feeds the world” but at great cost, as antibiotics have saved millions of lives at great cost
18’16 the harm of subsidies for monocrop agriculture
18’51 health care crisis wouldn’t be here if we lived and ate healthier
19’30 good diet is one that cultivates healthy microbial communities in the body
19’50 the importance of polyphenols in plant
20’26 chemical agriculture diminishes polyphenol content
20’51 how to choose foods with polyphenols
21’45 polyphenols were called anti-oxidants, but that wasn’t accurate
22’59 the “One Health” idea, all the different kinds of health are interconnected
24’46 climate change
25’05 which issue to tackle first, and the problem with industrial organizations that are resistant to change
25’24 when crisis is severe enough people start to pay attention
25’47 epidemics of diseases like diabetes and heart disease are not seen as an intense crisis, but it is
26’36 addressing the root problems
27’18 reductionism vs holistic thinking, are we in a paradigm shift
27’53 making a documentary film, The Interconnected Planet
29’02 integrative medicine
29’22 the holistic model in the corporate world
30’24 but corporate world hasn’t caught up yet, it’s not mainstream yet
31’14 pre-med students love holistic concepts but they lose their enthusiasm for financial reasons
32’08 private practice pays a fortune if it’s not holistic
33’02 his own food choices (click HERE for recipes)
33’32 farmers market
34’29 time restricted eating
34’57 when your gastrointestinal tract is empty it goes into cleansing mode
36’09 changing the idea that you need a big breakfast
37’02 making bowls with microbiome friendly food
37’39 basic principles: eat foods that are good for your microbiome, and make sure you know where your food comes from and how it’s grown