This past autumn I attended a showing of Green Fire, the story of Aldo Leopold and how he shaped and influenced the modern environmental movement and the Land Conservancy.  In the discussion following the film, the moderator posed the question – “Do you own land?”  Her point being that you can take part in the environment at large by how you treat the land you own.  This brought me to question – Can man really own land?  I subscribe to the belief of the Native Americans and other indigenous Peoples that we do not own land, we borrow it from our grandchildren.  Then I had the thought that we do own the land our spirits inhabit – our body.  And, just as with the earth, how we treat this body affects the greater world around us. 

As with a farmer of meats or produce, the health of the soil is where it all begins.  If the soil is not properly tended and full of nutrients – vitamins, minerals, active bacteria and other microorganisms – the product cannot create these nutrients.  With our body, the soil is made up of the many creatures within us – bacteria, worms, parasites, protozoa, yeast, viruses, etc.  We have more creatures living in and on us then there are cells which make up the body.  This biodynamic land mass, when properly tended, creates many vitamins and enzymes aiding digestion as well as providing up 85% of our immune system.  Ideally, the creatures within are dominated by the “good guys” or healthy, beneficial probiotic microorganisms, not the “baddies” or pathogenic microorganisms.  Understand that the baddies will never be (nor should they be) fully eliminated, but as long as they are kept to the correct proportions, our bodies will know how to keep them in check.  If the goodies are maintained, they in turn maintain the baddies.  Thus we are all “body farmers” managing the creatures within – our inner soil. 

The maintenance of our inner soil is most affected by our food and lifestyle choices.  Do we eat live foods full of enzymes, good bacteria, and yeasts such as kefir, fermented vegetables, and raw foods which promote the good soil?  Or processed, pasteurized foods lacking enzymes but full of starch, sugars, and fiber on which the baddies thrive?  Are we threatened by all bacteria and dirt in our surroundings and attack it at all costs?  Do we find a natural solution and embrace some of the weaker baddies so that our soil will be able to handle an attack of some larger baddies in the future?  As with any plant, if the soil health is not properly maintained, it will experience disease and eventually death and decay.  This is the biodynamic body farmer’s way of creating a healthy body which yields a plentiful crop.  The study of epigenetics illustrates just how key this “cultivation” is in not only our health, but that of the next generation.  This research demonstrates that it is not only genetics that predetermine the way we are, but the environment. Epigenetics has shown that we are born with a huge choice of genes, most of which we never use. The genes are covered by special proteins, which communicate with the environment and then decide what genes to use. So to a large degree it is the environment, and especially nutritional status, that predetermines our gene expression.

While mulling this concept over, I was struck by a profound thought – we don’t really own this body, just as we can’t own land.  We truly do borrow them both from our grandchildren.  This is evidenced by the works of Dr. Weston A. Price whose studies show the link between the health one’s body and its effect upon future generations.  Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride also shows the link between our health and that of our ancestors.  One can trace their GAPS story back to the bacterial health of the parents and grandparents, as the initial “dose” of bacteria comes from the mother’s vaginal flora.  This sets the stage for future heath: be it good or bad.  Dr. Campbell-McBride’s GAPS protocol can heal the “root system” by repairing the intestinal tract and reestablishing the good flora through diet and supplementation, thus restoring our body’s soil in order to nourish every cell in our body, much the way the earth must nourish every seed.

I now firmly believe that we don’t own the body our spirit inhabits, we do borrow it from our children and grandchildren.  How we treat our soil affects the health of future generations, both directly through reproduction and indirectly through modeling of behaviors.  How we treat the microcosm within has a major impact on our individual health, our children’s health, and on down through the generations.  We even impact the macrocosm of the world at large by the effects our food choices have on the types of farming and industry used to produce them, and how that in turn affects the earth and world around them.  That bite of food on your fork has implications for generations to come, in ways most of us are completely unaware.  Let’s strive to open up that awareness and make our legacy one of health—for ourselves and for those from whom we have borrowed our world. 

Science is now underway to show us the diet connection to our gut microbiome with  American Gut . By following nourishing traditions, a real food diet and embracing the world of tiny creatures among us we can restore our health and that of future generations.   Join me in creating  a healthy microbiome.