The germ theory of disease has been the core of western medicine for about 140 years. The theory is that microorganisms get inside us and make us sick.
It’s hard to argue with germ theory. Especially if you’re a big corporation, pharmaceutical company, or doctor. Listerine is for sale to kill germs in your mouth, Purell for your hands, Z-Packs for the internal, and Lysol for around your house. Doctors get paid to recommend germ-busting products.
Germ theory fits like a glove with our western Keynesian economic model. Keynes says spend, spend, spend. Germ theory says buy, buy, buy. Together, the models are an intellectual’s hand guide for instant gratification: spend your way to riches and buy your way to health!
The problem with germ theory is that science is showing it is about half wrong. And that’s because classic germ theory classifies the 10 trillion microbes inside of you which are necessary for health and survival…as germs.
What makes these 10 trillion little guys, which collectively weigh about as much as your liver, so important? They do things for us that we can’t do. Like China’s efficiency in manufacturing essential everyday items, our benelles decided long ago that bacterial microbes were more efficient at carrying out certain health functions. In possibly the greatest “if you can’t beat them join them” moment of all time, our benelles outsourced health functions to microbes.
Besides helping control our metabolic rate, gut permeability, neurotransmitter levels, and preventing auto-immune disease, the microbes-that-are-us have other fascinating capabilities such as rapid evolution. Our benelles take generations to evolve but harmful microbes only take a few minutes. If our benelles suddenly had no supporting cast of beneficial microbes, we’d keel over dead from harmful microbes just like the aliens in War of the Worlds. In lieu of extinction, we’ve installed beneficial microbes in our guts that rapidly evolve to counteract inexorable harmful microbe invasions. In a way, we’re cheating our way to health.
We couldn’t live without the microbes in our body. Our microbiome is the collective environment of microbes and their interactions with benelles. Progressive thinkers are already thinking of our microbiome as a newly-discovered human organ. Science is now proving that eating healthy is good for this microbiome organ (read with mock surprise).
Like growing a garden, cultivating the correct levels of good microbes in our guts takes time and patience. A round of antibiotics is tantamount to coming in with a hoe and indiscriminately tearing up both the plants and weeds. Take that, bugs and weeds! This rip-it-all-up meme is congruous with western medicine’s instant gratification approach of attacking benelles to kill sick cells, leaving the patient better in the short run and bankrupt in the long run.
For the last 50 million years, we were pretty good at treating our microbiome in a friendly, symbiotic way. Then germ theory classified our microbiome as the enemy and we put our belief in pasteurized foods, antibiotics, and bleach. We became skilled at attacking own our defense system. It’s like the universe installed the paragon of Anti-Virus protection in us, but over the last 100 years we’ve been right-clicking and disabling every 10 minutes.
A better public understanding of our microbiome should shift spending to sustainable, organic industries. Once moms understand that frequent antibiotics and packaged food, devoid of nutrients for our microbiome, are causing their kids to run the dual risk of obesity and auto-immune disease, Whole Foods should gain a nice portion of the money currently being spent at doctor’s offices.
The paradigm shift here is that germ theory condones an anti-bacterial approach which attacks and starves our microbiome. Louis Pasteur was right. Germs can make you sick. But not having them makes you sicker.