In this podcast I speak to Kate Forbes, a naturopathic lifestyle coach. Our topic is all about the soil microbes and how these organisms affect the health of the plant and ultimately human health.
Why are you so passionate about microbes and the role they play in our soil and our health?
- We are at a critical point, and it’s the bacteria that can bring it all together for us. It’s a great privilege to be a voice for the bacteria. We need to understand the importance of allowing the bacteria and the viruses (that have had such a bad rap and have caused us to melt in fear) to get on with their business. That business is the symbiotic process that happens within the soil from the first point of the food web (as it moves into plant life, and into animals) all the way to the point when it releases its energy into us. This is the answer to improving our health and our immunity. This is the key to natural farming and reviving our soils. And it is free of charge. It’s there for us to cultivate.
What role do microorganisms play in the soil itself and then in our bodies?
- These microorganisms play an essential role in the carbon cycle and the nitrogen cycle.
- Bacteria decompose various gasses and elements from the soil and the plant, transforming them into full-spectrum nutrients.
- In a balanced environment, the bacteria work together with nature to regenerate the soil and germinate the seed. In our bodies, these same bacteria help to digest food in our colon. Essentially, we have an apothecary of medicines in our gut that we don’t know about.
- What we do to our soils and plants (for example, using pesticides and antibiotics) is like setting off a nuclear bomb within that environment. We wipe out the full spectrum of bacterial living in these spaces.
- One of the biggest problems we face is we have species of bacteria that are not in their proper place. When the soil has been stripped of its microbes, the plants do not have the amount of nutrition that they should.
- Essentially these microbes are the composers of life as they switch genes on an off within our bodies and this impacts on our longevity. The healthier the plants that we eat, the healthier we are.
- The industrial complex has ensured that profit margins are met and that output is maximized, but they failed to look at the soil. We now have a very thin layer of soil, and a great deal of land on this planet is sterile or infertile.
- The good news is that it takes no time whatsoever to repopulate that soil; it could be fertile again within a few months (3 months).
- When you feed the microbiome correctly, you release the body’s innate wisdom. It comes back in weeks if the imbalance is not too serious or degenerative. In a more serious disease, it can take from three to six months to come right and that’s obviously with all the other therapeutic and lifestyle changes. Because in order to change our environment (microbial), we have to change the conditions (i.e. what we do to our bodies). The same would go for the soil.
Can you elaborate more on soil fertility?
- Soil is tested according to its physical, biological and chemical fertility. So someone checking out the soil will look at its structure, its texture, its water-holding capacity and the root and mycelium penetration.
- When you pick up that soil and it has a lovely earthy smell, that’s your mycelium and all the microbial life. All of this life gives the roots of the plant the capacity to grow and gather nutrients optimally.
- From a chemical standpoint, acid-alkaline balance and salinity are important. An imbalance of either may be harmful or even toxic to plant life. In monoculture you’re going to look at that and add fertilizers; this harms the soil rather than building it up.
- Biological fertility is all about the living organisms within the soil and how to keep them in balance. This includes the mycelium and fungi, which foster life within the soil. They also keep the balance within the soil like with parasites.
- Healthy plants secrete pheromones that can ward off insects and other predators. There’s a symbiotic relationship between the plants and microbes within the soil that is essential in this process. Strong plants have strong immune systems. They are protective.
- Eating that fresh plant from live soil is how we should be feeding the microbes in our gastrointestinal tracts.
- The microbes within us play a vital role in our own immunity, including viruses. Viruses are not all bad. Mostly we develop an immunity to them, which then dictates our evolutionary path. Life is a masterpiece of balance! And when the microbiome is in balance, there is no disease. And if there is an imbalance, a healthy microbiome will be able to restore the balance quite quickly.
If a plant is not healthy and we eat it, what’s the impact on our health?
- Epigenetics is the environment the gene is in. If you want to radically alter your genes, you have to radically alter your epigenetic environment. You can do that by changing the amount of nutrition you take in and by increasing the diversity of bacteria.
- The nutrition from a plant grown in inferior soil is going to be compromised. Chances it’s genetically modified. Chances are there’s very little bacteria – it’s almost sterile, especially if it comes from a supermarket that needs to sterilize everything. That means we are being stripped of certain microbes that we need in our bodies to be healthy. Same with the soil – it’s being stripped of essential nutrients that the plant needs to be healthy.
What do we do about this?
- It’s important to get over the fear we have developed around viruses and bacteria. If we were that fragile, we would not have an overpopulation or climate change problem on the planet right now.
- We need to get back to that model that nature has silently fermented into being over billions of years.
- It takes very little to re-inoculate a system. A worm farm, a bokashi composting bin or even just a bacterial breakdown for compost kit from a hardware shop is a most powerful way to start cultivating life, bringing in fungi, bringing microbes and other bacteria into the garden.
- What’s important is to start that food web at the most basic level – the mycelium. Once this has been done, it’s about planting and eating veggies out of your garden as much as possible – or sourcing organic vegetables and getting them as fresh as possible. It’s the key to your health and to the health of the planet.
- If we can become symbiotic again, and if we can stop needing to control nature, we will learn to come back into harmony with nature. And it’s not dreadful; it’s not like you have to log out of life and never go into a supermarket again. It’s more about becoming more aware and including certain lifestyle changes that will bring that into being. If it means creating a pot of live herbs or growing a box of veggies on your balcony, or it means planting a piece of soil the size of a door that can feed a family of four. It does not require a huge amount of land. You can start today.
- Sprouting or growing microgreens are some of the most powerful ways to regenerate and get some healthy bacteria into our systems.
- Broccoli sprouts are wonderful, as they detox the liver. But any microgreens are good. Hemp seeds have that germinating potential as well as all the nutrition that you need. Planting them in a bit of live soil is beautiful because you get the soil inoculation and you can pick the leaves as they shoot. If that’s not practical, just put the seeds in a bottle with some water to soak, then drain them and let them sit in a sunny space (not too hot and not direct sun). In three days, you’ll get the potent nutrients from the seeds and also you’ll get a good range of bacteria into your body.
- When it comes to the bacteria inoculating your system or your soil, the most important thing is diversity. You need many different types of bacteria.
- If we nurture the bacteria inside of us and within the soil, we will change so much for our health and the health of our planet.
Some of the key takeaways:
- Eat live foods.
- Drink smoothies with sprouts every day.
- Cultivate some soil.
- Start fermenting something.
- Learn how to make yogurt.
- And just cultivate life, pure life.