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My son is lying in bed home from school with severe intermittent cramping, and of course my first thought as always is to try to get some fermented food into him. (Pretty sure it’s not his appendix.) I know that fighting bacteria with bacteria is effective, and that probiotic, bacterial-rich ferments, even small spoonfuls of “pickle juice” (brine), support a rebalance.  So I’m relieved when he requests “one of [my] homemade fizzy drinks”  — some version of water kefir.

There is continuously new research emerging about the microorganisms in our digestive systems and relationship to disease, including dementia, autoimmune disorders, and diabetes.  Yesterday I read about research concerning Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in this regard, and an interesting summation of positive and negative aspects of antibiotics.  And there have been absolutely fantastic episodes on BBC Radio 4 on the Food Programme, if you are lucky enough to have access to these links:  That Gut Feeling Part One and That Gut Feeling Part Two.  Since listening to these radio docs, I have been thinking of my own microbiome as an organ I can easily make healthier by daily dietary choices, such as increasing fibre, variety and of course including raw and unpasteurised and fermented foods, as well as reducing processed foods.

And so I try with my children as well, not as successfully as some ardent fermenters perhaps, but I do my best. So after offering my son a glass of water kefir sweetened and carbonated with a bit of bramble jam, I wanted to give him some fruit salad with probiotic yoghurt,”bio-live” to abate those painful cramps.

On top of that fruit salad I sprinkled some non-organic raspberries from the supermarket, and reflected as always on whether the sprays, fungicides, and pesticides that we inadvertently eat, for all the reasons many of us don’t eat organic all the time (cost, accessibility), would also be effecting the bacteria in our guts, probably negatively, by decreasing diversity and therefore interfering in a “natural” balance.

There are occasionally posts I see on social media about this, but I’m never sure if they are good science.  This morning contemplating the raspberries reminded me that a month ago I’d enquired on Twitter whether people knew of reputable research surrounding issues of pesticides et. al. on human gut health.

One follower in particular tweeted back some links, which I include here now. They’re all based on Glyphosate, which is interesting, and very political, as an herbicide, yet I hope the conversation can also extend to pesticides, and fungicides too. I can’t vouch for them as I yield to experts on scientific matters, but I’m sharing them because I think this is a really interesting part of the microbiome conversation. There are very important connection between the agriculture we depend on and its relationship to biodiversity of flora, fauna, and in the soil as well– soil health being critical for climate stability.  It all comes together– our bodies, the soil, the atmosphere, and the creatures great and small inhabiting all of these realms– a deep and complicated ecology, within, beyond, and between.

If you know good links to share, please do so in the comments.  I and we will be most grateful.

Glyphosate and Amino Acid Biosynthesis 

Glyphophosate, Celiac, Gluten Intolerance

Glyphosate suppresses the antagonistic effect of Enterococcus spp. on Clostridium botulinum.

Concerns over use of glyphosate-based herbicides and risks associated with exposures: a consensus statement