Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Gaia hypothesis is also about us.

The Gaia hypothesis is refered to the idea that we are all part of one big organism; this planet. Like all things, this is true depending on how you look at it.

And here is another truth. So are you. Our bodies are planets. There are a myriad of viruses and bacteria living in, on and off your body. Most of them are harmless and therefore we know nothing about them. Scientists have understandably only been interested in describing those can hurt us. Therefore we are blind to what are just there, or even there to "help" us.

Just like earth is filled with life in every ecological niche, so are we. Most interest has been focused on the gut. The instestine is filled with more than a kilo bacteria. In one way of counting, we are more microbial than human, this statement come from analysis of how much microbial genes we have versus the amount of human genes. Gene is the part of DNA that codes for a protein, DNA is like a big book of recipes. This research was conducted by Jeffery Gordon. He has stated “We think that there are 10 times more microbial cells on and in our bodies than there are human cells. That means that we're 90 percent microbial and 10 percent human. There's also an estimated 100 times more microbial genes than the genes in our human genome. So we're really a compendium [and] an amalgamation of human and microbial parts.” Is figures are yet to be proved, but it tickles the imagination, again we are not just what we think that we are.

The microbes in the gut are the good guys. They are a part of our cultural inheritance and they help us digesting food but if there are imbalances there might be some problems. Diseases that might be associated with disrupted microbial flora are; migrains, cancer, anorexia and fungi infections as well as various immunological problems and autoimmune diseases.

Interestingly the gutflora varies according to nations and food cultures, recently it was shown that the gutflora of Japanese people can digest algae (i.e. sushi). The rest of us has yet to evolve alt attract bacteria that can do that

So why not take this planet-ecosystem out for a springwalk?

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