I’m big on biomes. It’s so cool to think that instead of my mouth feeding only me, I’m actually feeding a few TRILLION other little mouths.
It sounds rather creepy in fact, but it’s still cool.
However, the fact that each of us carries an entire ecosystem of other creatures explains so many crazy things. Like why some people develop intolerance to certain substances. Or why some people respond so much better to certain drugs than others. Or why some people can eat and eat and eat and not gain weight. And so many other crazy things.
Now if we’re going to truly understand the affect our microbiome has upon us and our society, we’re going to have to try and figure out what the biome looked like for our ancestors. For instance, what did the biome of the Romans and Ancient Greeks look like? How did it differ from that of the Ancient Chinese?
My guess is that we’re going to have to take a page out of paleoclimatology.
It’s possible to figure out what the climate of the Earth was a thousand years ago through different techniques. We can look at rocks, We can look at trees. We can measure the temperature of the ground deep down.
So, when it comes to our ancestors, we’re going to have to do much the same. Of course, samples from the bodies themselves will be a good start. But of course they’ve been sitting around in the dirt for some time. So we’ll have to sample the current environment. We’ll have to look for old organic samples to see what might have been living on those. And we’re going to have to set up some kind of modern model that would allow us to reconstruct that old biome, just to try it on for size.
So the next time your friend says they are gluten intolerant, ask them what their ancestors had for their biome. Were they gluten intolerant?
Someday we’ll have a way to find out.