Writing Prompt #3

Our behavior and health has been previously thought to exist in a vacuum, untouchable by the microbial world. But research uncovers every day that microbes have an enormous impact on many aspects of who we are, physiologically and psychologically as well. Even though microbes influence us, we also influence them through our own choices and behaviors. Many behaviors that influence our personal microbiomes center around what we eat and how we manage our hygiene. Eating, for example, has the power to change our microbiome for better or worse depending on what foods are consumed. One who eats mostly junk food will culture a microbiome that benefits from that type of food, and said microbiome would influence the person to eat more unhealthfully. The true is also said for healthy food, so developing habits with healthy food will cultivate a microbiome that feeds off of it. This can lead into a cycle of being accustomed to eating healthfully, or eating poorly and developing diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Another habit that influences one’s microbiome is cleanliness. Although I am not arguing against having good hygiene, being too meticulous about it has been correlated with higher rates of allergies and autoimmune disease. Although correlation does not equate to causation, one hypothesis for this phenomenon is that disallowing the body to be exposed to enough microbes and pathogens leaves the immune system unprepared and misguided, increasing one’s chances for allergies and autoimmune disease.

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