Couple of years ago, I attended seminars on machine learning, deep learning, AI/ML and neural network. I was amazed that we are teaching the concept of evolution to software programs but we are no longer training ourselves with the same methodologies.
Humans train their immunity in the same way as deep learning/ machine algorithms train themselves through exposure. The credit of modern vaccination goes to Edward Jenner, who developed small pox vaccine in 1796. An Indian 10th Century text, Sact’eya Grantham, has details of creating inoculations from scabs of patients to develop immunity and prevent epidemics. There is a small debate in scientific community as to who should take the credit for vaccine: the Chinese, Indians or the Europeans. In my opinion, no civilization should take credit of an evolutionary trait that predates humans.
Mother’s womb is the most sterile incubation chamber found in nature, and the breast milk is hermetically sterile nutrition. In essence, we are giving birth to a program/ creation with very little pre-conceived notions. Now as the baby moves, crawls and licks its surroundings, they deliberately ingest a small sample of the outside micro-organisms.
Over the first two years, an infant’s gut fauna changes dramatically. The more time the kid has spent in a sand pit (soil can harbor all kinds of germs), the more diverse the fauna is and stronger the immunity is. Pre mature born infants who were kept in sterile incubation chamber for extended periods and infants who were dozed with large doses antibiotics (because of surgery or illness) tend to have statistically weaker immune system even when they grow up. A pregnant mother’s sudden craving for sour (fermented) food is believed to be an evolutionary maneuver to enrich her immune system and pass on those learnings via the umbilical cord.
Highly acidic gastric juices in the stomach of the children would eliminate most of these micro-organisms and only a trace of weakened germs, bacteria and virus are able to reach their intestines. The modern vaccines are also synthesized in a similar fashion by creating a culture of weakened microbes on a sterile substrate. These microbes gives the necessary training and exposure to our immune system to program for a rapid response team. This ensures that in future if we catch any infection (microbial invasion where they breach our skin or intestines walls), the white blood cells are ready to fight back.
Some doctors and researchers agree that microbes are mutating faster than we can develop flu shots. In such an evolutionary race, it can be argued that strengthening ones immune defenses is better than curing the ailment. Eco-immunology is based on such a philosophy.
Even before the word biome was coined, scholars across cultures understood the role of useful micro-organisms. Ayurveda talks about the balance of body fluids. A rich gut flora needs a small portion of fermented food to be included as part of our diet. The more diverse this food culture is, the more beneficial it will be to restore the gut flora. Today scientists agree that 40% of human digestions happens because of the enzymes secreted through the microbes. Certain vitamins especially B12 are found only in fermented food. Our skin & intestines have billions of orifice and spots for the microbes to attach.
While cleanliness and hygiene are important, sanitizing everything with anti-bacterial soaps, UV light and boiling water is often overdoing. It only weakens our immune system and promotes superbug invasion (disease causing bacteria that are immune to antibiotics and antiseptic chemicals). Fermented food like probiotic pickles (non-oil base), Sauerkraut and beverages like Kombucha and Kefir; are a very healthy & nutritious way of introducing cultures of good little organisms to our kid’s gut biome.
Over the course of new couple of chapters, we will be going through some of the interesting Probiotics recipes that do not require any special ingredients, equipment or processing. However, if you have food allergies, high blood pressure, diabetics or any medical condition, please consult a medical professional before trying.