• Deanne Pandey

The undeniable connection of your gut and soil

Who could’ve guessed how strongly soil health is related to our health. That’s right, the nutrition content of the soil can have a massive impact on our health as it impacts agricultural output and the nutrient content of the food we eat.

The human body is a biome – by definition, a large, naturally occurring community of flora occupying a major habitat. Although these processes in the body and in the soil function differently, there is a fundamental link – the digestive system. This system refines and transforms the material from one organism, which occupies a low place in the food chain, to nourish another, further up the ladder. Through digestion, organic materials are broken down and transformed into new life forms: the soil biome nourishes the plant through complex digestive processes in the topsoil and rhizosphere, and the plant matter in turn becomes animal flesh as it is transformed through another biome, in this case an internalised gut. The health of all these interconnected organisms is, therefore, centrally dependent on the health of their digestive processes.Without the presence of microorganisms, the mechanics of the digestive system can still function to a certain degree. Purging our intestines of microorganisms through antibiotic use will not stop us from digesting food, just as bypassing the soil ecosystem through using chemical fertilisers or hydroponics will still stimulate plant growth. However, the long-term vitality and health of plants, animals and people is centrally dependent on the presence and diversity of microorganisms, in the soil and gut respectively.

At the microbiological level, there is something utterly compelling about the digestive process. This microscopic world opens up a new dimension of understanding in relation to the health connections between the life of the soil and the organisms that live inside our bodies. As well as digestion, microbes perform various other vitally important roles in regulating the immune system and preventing colonisation by pathogens.

Lastly, The living environment of fast-paced cities shows a lower natural biodiversity and exposure to environmental microbes. The loss of contact with outdoor-associated natural beneficial microbiota indirectly affects the human gut microbiome and may have negative consequences on human health. Our ancestors were in close contact with soil, due to their lifestyle, i.e., practicing agriculture and animal husbandry. Children encountering early contact with environments that are less hygienic such as outdoor settings and farms are less susceptible to develop autoimmune diseases.

Thus, without a decent exposure to a healthy soil, our gut, lifestyle and overall health can be impacted negatively. The depletion of nutrients in our soil ultimately strips us of the access to good nutrition, eventually leading to poor health factors.

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