Germ: A four-letter word to which our society associates a dirty, negative connotation and has become conditioned to fear. We bathe ourselves in Purell, teach our children to wash their hands after every conceivable opportunity, and even President Obama helped us master the etiquette of the elbow-sneeze. It seems as though the more western cultures have learned about our microbiotic counterparts, the more fear-driven our drive to eradicate them has become.
But have we tried so hard to exercise our cleanliness that Mother Nature has found a counterbalance? Our Ancient Wisdom installment in the series 8 Exponential Trends that Will Shape Humanity explores re-embracing microbial balance in our bodies and applying this age old school of thought to modern science and technology.
On a macro-level, disease has traditionally been a manifestation of unavoidable environmental conditions humans had to overcome such as influenza, tuberculosis, malaria, etc. The find-a-cure mentality has driven exceptional innovation in medicine and to develop vaccines and antibiotics to combat these diseases; however, the exponential incidence of new strains of disease or new diseases altogether has become increasingly more difficult to manage. The makeup of human bacteria, particularly associated with digestion, shift to conform to the surrounding environment and learn how to protect our bodies from what it deems harmful, sometimes with negative consequences. For example, astudy released last year found that antibiotic over-prescription among young children has been linked to higher risk for a host of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) by killing not only illness-causing bacteria but good bacteria in the body that promote digestion.
Higher incidence of disease such as digestive disorders are becoming manufactured first world diseases, but your grandmother’s old wives tales may help get us back on track. Should we begin to worry a little less about getting dirty, enjoy more fermented food and spend more time surrounded by the world of microbes found in nature?
Now it appears the microbial pendulum is swinging back in the direction of embracing germs, and harvesting ancient wisdom into the mass personalization of microbial harmony.
To learn more about the world of the microbe, download our free report here.
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