You are just 10% human. For every one of the cells that make up the vessel that you call your body, there are nine impostor cells hitching a ride. You are not just flesh and blood, muscle and bone, brain and skin, but also bacteria and fungi. Over your lifetime, you will carry the equivalent weight of five African elephants in microbes. You are not an individual but a colony. Until recently, we had thought our microbes hardly mattered, but science is revealing a different story, one in which microbes run our bodies and becoming a healthy human is impossible without them. In this riveting, shocking, and beautifully written book, biologist Alanna Collen draws on the latest scientific research to show how our personal colony of microbes influences our weight, our immune system, our mental health, and even our choice of partner. She argues that so many of our modern diseases—obesity, autism, mental illness, digestive disorders, allergies, autoimmunity afflictions, and even cancer—have their root in our failure to cherish our most fundamental and enduring relationship: that with our personal colony of microbes. Many of the questions about modern diseases left unanswered by the Human Genome Project are illuminated by this new science. And the good news is that unlike our human cells, we can change our microbes for the better. Collen's book is a revelatory and indispensable guide. It is science writing at its most relevant: life—and your body—will never seem the same again.
"Eyeopening... Fascinating... may presage a paradigm shift in medicine.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "Teeming with information and big ideas... Outstanding.” —Booklist (starred review) The origin of asthma, autism, Alzheimer's, allergies, cancer, heart disease, obesity, and even some kinds of depression is now clear. Award-winning researcher on the microbiome, professor Rodney Dietert presents a new paradigm in human biology that has emerged in the midst of the ongoing global epidemic of noncommunicable diseases. The Human Superorganism makes a sweeping, paradigm-shifting argument. It demolishes two fundamental beliefs that have blinkered all medical thinking until very recently: 1) Humans are better off as pure organisms free of foreign microbes; and 2) the human genome is the key to future medical advances. The microorganisms that we have sought to eliminate have been there for centuries supporting our ancestors. They comprise as much as 90 percent of the cells in and on our bodies—a staggering percentage! More than a thousand species of them live inside us, on our skin, and on our very eyelashes. Yet we have now significantly reduced their power and in doing so have sparked an epidemic of noncommunicable diseases—which now account for 63 percent of all human deaths. Ultimately, this book is not just about microbes; it is about a different way to view humans. The story that Dietert tells of where the new biology comes from, how it works, and the ways in which it affects your life is fascinating, authoritative, and revolutionary. Dietert identifies foods that best serve you, the superorganism; not new fad foods but ancient foods that have made sense for millennia. He explains protective measures against unsafe chemicals and drugs. He offers an empowering self-care guide and the blueprint for a revolution in public health. We are not what we have been taught. Each of us is a superorganism. The best path to a healthy life is through recognizing that profound truth. From the Hardcover edition.
A clarion call to save humanity’s most essential fellow creatures – and our health Far beneath our skin exists an unfathomable, ancient universe – an internal ecosystem that is critical to our health. Dr Martin Blaser invites us into the wilds of the human ‘microbiome’, unfurling its inner workings and evolution. For thousands of years, bacteria and human cells have co-existed in a relationship that has ensured the health and equilibrium of our body. But now, much like the natural world outside of us, our internal environment is being irrevocably destroyed. The culprit: some of our most revered medical advances – antibiotics – which appear to be linked to the epidemics of asthma, eczema, obesity, certain forms of cancer, and other diseases plaguing modern society. In a book that stands as the Silent Spring of its day, Blaser sounds a provocative alarm that we ignore at our peril.
Author: Dr. Rob Dunn
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: 2011-06-21
“Anextraordinary book…. With clarity and charm [Dunn] takes the reader into theoverlap of medicine, ecology, and evolutionary biology to reveal an importantdomain of the human condition.” —EdwardO. Wilson, author of Anthill and The Future of Life BiologistRob Dunn reveals the crucial influence that other species have upon our health,our well-being, and our world in The WildLife of Our Bodies—a fascinating tour through the hidden truths of natureand codependence. Dunn illuminates the nuanced, often imperceptible relationshipsthat exist between homo sapiens and other species, relationships that underpinhumanity’s ability to thrive and prosper in every circumstance. Readers ofMichael Pollan’s TheOmnivore’s Dilemma will be enthralled by Dunn’s powerful, lucid explorationof the role that humankind plays within the greater web of life on Earth.
A riveting investigation of the myriad ways that parasites control how other creatures—including humans—think, feel, and act. These tiny organisms can only live inside another animal, and as McAuliffe reveals, they have many evolutionary motives for manipulating their host’s behavior. Far more often than appreciated, these puppeteers orchestrate the interplay between predator and prey. With astonishing precision, parasites can coax rats to approach cats, spiders to transform the patterns of their webs, and fish to draw the attention of birds that then swoop down to feast on them. We humans are hardly immune to the profound influence of parasites. Organisms we pick up from our own pets are strongly suspected of changing our personality traits and contributing to recklessness, impulsivity—even suicide. Microbes in our gut affect our emotions and the very wiring of our brains. Germs that cause colds and flu may alter our behavior even before symptoms become apparent. Parasites influence our species on the cultural level too. As McAuliffe documents, a subconscious fear of contagion impacts virtually every aspect of our lives, from our sexual attractions and social circles to our morals and political views. Drawing on a huge body of research, she argues that our dread of contamination is an evolved defense against parasites—and a double-edged sword. The horror and revulsion we feel when we come in contact with people who appear diseased or dirty helped pave the way for civilization, but may also be the basis for major divisions in societies that persist to this day. In the tradition of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel and Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish, This Is Your Brain on Parasites is both a journey into cutting-edge science and a revelatory examination of what it means to be human.
Author: Moises Velasquez-Manoff
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 2012-09-04
A brilliant, cutting-edge exploration of the dramatic rise of allergic and autoimmune diseases and the controversial, potentially groundbreaking therapies that scientists are developing to correct these disorders Whether it is asthma, food or pollen allergies, type-1 diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, or Crohn’s disease, everyone knows someone who suffers from an allergic or autoimmune disorder. And if it appears that the prevalence of these maladies has increased recently, that’s because it has—to levels never before seen in human history. These days no fewer than one in five—and likely more—Americans suffers from one of these ailments. We seem newly, and bafflingly, vulnerable to immune system malfunction. Why? Science writer Moises Velasquez-Manoff explains the latest thinking about this problem and explores the remarkable new treatments in the works. In the past 150 years, improved sanitation, water treatment, and the advent of vaccines and antibiotics have saved countless lives, nearly eradicating diseases that had plagued humanity for millennia. But now, a growing body of evidence suggests that the very steps we took to combat infections also eliminated organisms that kept our bodies in balance. The idea that we have systematically cleaned ourselves to illness challenges deeply entrenched notions about the value of societal hygiene and the harmful nature of microbes. Yet scientists investigating the rampant immune dysfunction in the developed world have inevitably arrived at this conclusion. To address this global “epidemic of absence,” they must restore the human ecosystem. This groundbreaking book explores the promising but controversial “worm therapy”—deliberate infection with parasitic worms—in development to treat autoimmune disease. It explains why farmers’ children so rarely get hay fever, why allergy is less prevalent in former Eastern Bloc countries, and how one cancer-causing bacterium may be good for us. It probes the link between autism and a dysfunctional immune system. It investigates the newly apparent fetal origins of allergic disease—that a mother’s inflammatory response imprints on her unborn child, tipping the scales toward allergy. In the future, preventive treatment—something as simple as a probiotic—will necessarily begin before birth. An Epidemic of Absence asks what will happen in developing countries, which, as they become more affluent, have already seen an uptick in allergic disease: Will India end up more allergic than Europe? Velasquez-Manoff also details a controversial underground movement that has coalesced around the treatment of immune-mediated disorders with parasites. Against much of his better judgment, he joins these do-it-yourselfers and reports his surprising results. An Epidemic of Absence considers the critical immune stimuli we inadvertently lost as we modernized, and the modern ills we may be able to correct by restoring them. At stake is nothing less than our health, and that of our loved ones. Researchers, meanwhile, have the good fortune of living through a paradigm shift, one of those occasional moments in the progress of science when a radically new way of thinking emerges, shakes things up, and suggests new avenues of treatment. You’ll discover that you’re not you at all, but a bustling collection of organisms, an ecosystem whose preservation and integrity require the utmost attention and care.
Author: Rob Knight
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 2015-04-07
Genre: Health & Fitness
Allergies, asthma, obesity, acne: these are just a few of the conditions that may be caused—and someday cured—by the microscopic life inside us. The key is to understand how this groundbreaking science influences your health, mood, and more. In just the last few years, scientists have shown how the microscopic life within our bodies— particularly within our intestines—has an astonishing impact on our lives. Your health, mood, sleep patterns, eating preferences—even your likelihood of getting bitten by mosquitoes—can be traced in part to the tiny creatures that live on and inside of us. In Follow Your Gut, pioneering scientist Rob Knight pairs with award-winning science journalist Brendan Buhler to explain—with good humor and easy-to-grasp examples—why these new findings matter to everyone. They lead a detailed tour of the previously unseen world inside our bodies, calling out the diseases and conditions believed to be most directly impacted by them. With a practical eye toward deeper knowledge and better decisions, they also explore the known effects of antibiotics, probiotics, diet choice and even birth method on our children’s lifelong health. Ultimately, this pioneering book explains how to learn about your own microbiome and take steps toward understanding and improving your health, using the latest research as a guide.
Author: Rob DeSalle
Publisher: Yale University Press
Release Date: 2015-11-10
Suddenly, research findings require a paradigm shift in our view of the microbial world. The Human Microbiome Project at the National Institutes of Health is well under way, and unprecedented scientific technology now allows the censusing of trillions of microbes inside and on our bodies as well as in the places where we live, work, and play. This intriguing, up-to-the-minute book for scientists and nonscientists alike explains what researchers are discovering about the microbe world and what the implications are for modern science and medicine. Rob DeSalle and Susan Perkins illuminate the long, intertwined evolution of humans and microbes. They discuss how novel DNA sequencing has shed entirely new light on the complexity of microbe-human interactions, and they examine the potential benefits to human health: amazing possibilities for pinpoint treatment of infections and other illnesses without upsetting the vital balance of an individual microbiome. This book has been inspired by an exhibition, The Secret World Inside You: The Microbiome, at the American Museum of Natural History, which will open in New York in early November 2015 and run until August 2016. It will then travel to other museums in the United States and abroad.
Author: Justin Sonnenburg
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: 2017-01-12
Genre: Health & Fitness
From your weight, to how you age, to allergies and diseases - your gut controls it all. In Gut Reactions, leading scientists Justin and Erica Sonnenberg explain how we've neglected this vital organ for far too long. As well as the consequences you might expect - a dramatic rise in food intolerances and inflammatory bowel diseases - are a whole host of other concerns, such as an increase in cancer, asthma, autism and diabetes. We now have only 1,200 species of microbes living in our gut. We used to have many more. Why are these species becoming extinct? And how do we prevent it? With recipes and meal plans, as well as guidance on alternatives to antibiotics and lifestyle choices, Gut Reactions will help you to interpret, understand and incorporate these new radical findings into your diet and lifestyle and will help you on your journey to a healthier gut.
The Gut-Brain Axis: Dietary, Probiotic, and Prebiotic Interventions on the Microbiota examines the potential for microbial manipulation as a therapeutic avenue in central nervous system disorders in which an altered microbiota has been implicated, and explores the mechanisms, sometimes common, by which the microbiota may contribute to such disorders. Focuses on specific areas in which the microbiota has been implicated in gut-brain communication Examines common mechanisms and pathways by which the microbiota may influence brain and behavior Identifies novel therapeutic strategies targeted toward the microbiota in the management of brain activity and behavior
WINNER OF THE 2016 AUSTRALIAN BOOK INDUSTRY AWARDS, INTERNATIONAL BOOK OF THE YEAR SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2016 BRITISH BOOK INDUSTRY AWARDS, NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR LONGLISTED FOR THE 2015 GOODREADS CHOICE AWARDS 'BEST SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY BOOK' A Sunday Times bestseller The key to living a happier, healthier life is inside us. Our gut is almost as important to us as our brain or our heart, yet we know very little about how it works. In Gut, Giulia Enders shows that rather than the utilitarian and — let’s be honest — somewhat embarrassing body part we imagine it to be, it is one of the most complex, important, and even miraculous parts of our anatomy. And scientists are only just discovering quite how much it has to offer; new research shows that gut bacteria can play a role in everything from obesity and allergies to Alzheimer’s. Beginning with the personal experience of illness that inspired her research, and going on to explain everything from the basics of nutrient absorption to the latest science linking bowel bacteria with depression, Enders has written an entertaining, informative health handbook. Gut definitely shows that we can all benefit from getting to know the wondrous world of our inner workings. In this charming book, young scientist Giulia Enders takes us on a fascinating tour of our insides. Her message is simple — if we treat our gut well, it will treat us well in return. But how do we do that? And why do we need to? Find out in this surprising, and surprisingly funny, exploration of the least understood of our organs. PRAISE FOR GIULIA ENDERS ‘A publishing sensation that … sets out to free toilet talk from its taboo’ The Times ‘Enders’ gut manifesto calls on its readers to celebrate their lower bodies’ achievements, rather than apologise for them’ The Guardian
Combining cutting-edge neuroscience with the latest discoveries on the human microbiome, a practical guide in the tradition of Wheat Belly and Grain Brain that conclusively demonstrates the inextricable, biological link between mind and body. We have all experienced the connection between our mind and our gut—the decision we made because it “felt right”; the butterflies in our stomach before a big meeting; the anxious stomach rumbling when we’re stressed out. While the dialogue between the gut and the brain has been recognized by ancient healing traditions, including Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, Western medicine has failed to appreciate the complexity of how the brain, gut, and more recently, the microbiome—the microorganisms that live inside us—communicate with one another. In The Mind-Gut Connection, Dr. Emeran Mayer, executive director of the UCLA Center for Neurobiology of Stress, offers a revolutionary look at this developing science, teaching us how to harness the power of the mind-gut connection to take charge of our health. The Mind-Gut Connection shows how to keep the brain-gut communication clear and balanced to: • heal the gut by focusing on a plant-based diet • balance the microbiome by consuming fermented foods and probiotics, fasting, and cutting out sugar and processed foods • promote weight loss by detoxifying and creating healthy digestion and maximum nutrient absorption • boost immunity and prevent the onset of neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s • generate a happier mindset and reduce fatigue, moodiness, anxiety, and depression • prevent and heal GI disorders such as leaky gut syndrome, food sensitivities and allergies, and IBS, as well as digestive discomfort such as heartburn and bloating • and much more.
Author: Paul G. Falkowski
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Release Date: 2015-04-27
For almost four billion years, microbes had the primordial oceans all to themselves. The stewards of Earth, these organisms transformed the chemistry of our planet to make it habitable for plants, animals, and us. Life's Engines takes readers deep into the microscopic world to explore how these marvelous creatures made life on Earth possible—and how human life today would cease to exist without them. Paul Falkowski looks "under the hood" of microbes to find the engines of life, the actual working parts that do the biochemical heavy lifting for every living organism on Earth. With insight and humor, he explains how these miniature engines are built—and how they have been appropriated by and assembled like Lego sets within every creature that walks, swims, or flies. Falkowski shows how evolution works to maintain this core machinery of life, and how we and other animals are veritable conglomerations of microbes. A vibrantly entertaining book about the microbes that support our very existence, Life's Engines will inspire wonder about these elegantly complex nanomachines that have driven life since its origin. It also issues a timely warning about the dangers of tinkering with that machinery to make it more "efficient" at meeting the ever-growing demands of humans in the coming century.