Diversity is much in the news these days in a political sense, and today I would like to explore wider senses of the word that impact on all of us every day.
Imagine that your diet was restricted to just one meal; you could eat as much as you like, as many times a day as you wished, but it was just one meal, always the same. Pretty soon this would have an effect on you emotionally and psychologically. You would become bored with it very soon. You would not look forward to eating it, maybe even actively dislike it. Your digestive system would also become affected, and may rebel in some way – constipation or diarrhoea maybe. Over a period of time, your health would begin to suffer from the narrowness of the group of nutrients that you were feeding your body, and you would exhibit signs of various nutrient deficiencies. We know that such a course of action is inherently unhealthy, and that diversity in our diet is a good thing for our overall health and wellbeing.
Our agriculture is moving more and more towards monoculture; there is much less diversity in crops nowadays than there used to be. Planting the same crop in the same place each year zaps nutrients from the earth and leaves soil weak and unable to support healthy plant growth. It reduces the diversity of micro-organisms in the soil; micro-organisms that are essential to the continued health of the soil, and the health and growth of the roots and plants themselves. Because soil structure and quality is so poor, farmers are forced to use chemical fertilizers to encourage plant growth and fruit production. These fertilizers, in turn, disrupt the natural makeup of the soil and contribute further to nutrient depletion. Monocropping also creates the spread of pests and diseases, which must be treated with yet more chemicals. The effects of monocropping on the environment are severe when pesticides and fertilizers make their way into ground water or become airborne, creating pollution.
The same is also true in our homes – the diversity of our microbiomes in our homes is changing to one of monoculture. We use a swathe of chemical or natural products to kill up to 99.99% of germs in the home. In essence, what this means is that a very small group of bad bacteria develop biofilms and resistance, and become more harmful. Just look at the rise of ‘superbugs’ that kill thousands of people every year in Hospitals.
We even extend this to killing micro-organisms on our skin, using antibacterial shower gels packed with chemicals. These wipe out the beneficial bacteria that help to keep our skin healthy, giving rise to an increasing number of cases of skin conditions.
Paradoxically, the striving for a germ free home environment may actually make us more vulnerable to health problems. In medicine, the hygiene hypothesis states that early childhood exposure to particular microorganisms (such as the gut flora and helminth parasites) protects against allergic diseases by contributing to the development of the immune system.
So, in the environmental sense, diversity is very good for us, and monoculture not so good. This also extends to our gut bacteria, where diversity is a key element of gut health. Antibiotics wipe out a good number of the 1,000 species of gut bacteria, up to 25% of which may never return due to our Western Diets. We may supplement with Lactobacillus Acidophilus, for example, but that is just one species, albeit a fairly dominant one. It will help, up to a point.
If you are going to use Probiotics for gut health, use a multi strain one, with a very high bacterial count – at least 50 billion per capsule. Or use one of the range of Custom Probiotics powder with up to 11 strains and up to 400 billion bacteria per gram. And rotate your probiotics every three months for maximum effect, just using a different one with different strains to keep the diversity going. Try to eat a wider variety of organic and fermented foods.
In your homes you can use Living Balance Organic Probiotic Cleaner for all your surfaces. This cleaner with 18 strains of beneficial bacteria derived from soil and water adds diversity to your environment while naturally keeping bad bacteria under control and avoiding the spectre of resistance. These keep bad bacteria in check for three days, not three hours (ordinary cleaners keep bad germs away for 36 minutes, and in 3-4 hours you are back where you started. That goes for bleach, chemical cleaners and Eco cleaners. But not for a probiotic cleaner)!
PLUS, when you wash Living Balance down the drain after use, the beneficial bacteria actually have a positive effect on our waterways!
No need for gloves, no need for masks, it is completely non toxic and organic, and safe for kids and pets.
In the shower
And for your skin, you can use a soap that encourages the growth of your own beneficial microbiome like the Top to Toe Soap and Hair Soap. These keep your skin and scalp healthy, naturally, using your own microbiome so they are tailored to you!
Micro-organism diversity in our home and personal microbiomes is an essential part of keeping us healthy and happy, and I would encourage us all to make a move away from monoculture in the coming decade.