We will long remember all the precautions we took, and are still taking, to avoid contracting Covid-19: social distancing, face masks, sanitizing hands and surfaces, avoiding crowds, no hugs and kissing, and more.
But this pandemic will pass, and then we will have to return to normal pre-Covid-19 social interactions for the sake of our physical and mental health. However, some public health professionals worry that too many people have now been trained to fear the world, so they will continue to take precautions that will not only be unnecessary but actually harmful when this pandemic passes.james hamblin, the Atlantic)
To maintain good health we need close personal contact with others and with the material world around us. Our physical bodies – head, trunk, arms, legs, internal organs – don’t fully describe us because we too live in symbiosis with a vast invisible world of microbes, including bacteria, fungi and viruses.
This vast hidden microbial ecosystem is called the microbiome, and it has co-evolved with humans for many thousands of years. Density of microbes, primarily bacteria, populate the human gut, and the microbiome organisms also populate our skin, lungs, and elsewhere. The scientific study of the microbiome is new, and most publications on the subject have appeared in the last 10 years alone.
Much remains to be discovered but it is already clear that the microbiome closely influences human health. A healthy, diverse microbiome is related to good health, and a compromised microbiome is related to poor health.
Although some germs are harmful, such as the annual flu virus and the Covid-19 coronavirus, most of the germs we come into contact with are either harmless or actually good for us, and we need to be “good” for good in our microbiome. microbes are required. Health. The microbiome is involved in many processes of fundamental importance, such as helping to train the immune system and digest our food, synthesizing vitamins K and B in the gut, and much more.
The composition of our microbiome fluctuates slightly as we come into contact with other microbes in our daily lives. If we are deprived of these exposures, especially early in life, our immune systems will likely malfunction, resulting in allergies, asthma, autoimmune disorders, obesity, type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions.
Over the past decade, microbiologists have become concerned about the overuse of antibiotics and the cleanliness of the environment. Antibiotics are a huge boon to medicine to fight disease but are overused and/or used inappropriately.
Antibiotics and sanitizing surfaces both kill microbes and together can force the “good” microbes needed for healthy microbes to go extinct. And, of course, over the past year we have dramatically increased our focus on hand and surface hygiene and avoiding contact with the virus. We might expect that these different pressures significantly reduced microbiome diversity.
The microbiomes of the very young and the elderly are the most resilient, while the microbiomes of older children and adults are resilient and any damage caused during the pandemic can be easily reversed. High fiber diet, spending lots of time outdoors, of course contact with animals and getting back to normal life, when safe to do so, mix freely with others and hug and kiss loved ones, Microbiome diversity All the best for improving. It was very important to vaccinate before the 70s to allow them to re-establish the normal microbiome through earlier access to visitors and open areas. And breastfed babies are great for establishing a healthy microbiome.
Re-establishing normal social contacts when we are all vaccinated and this pandemic is over will be critical, although it will be helpful to take extra precautions during flu season. If you’re nervous, remember the implications of adopting outdated pandemic precautions, especially the sterilization of our surroundings. The risk of surface transmission of COVID-19 is less than one in 10,000.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, only one of the top-10 causes of death, influenza, was due to an infectious disease you could have caught. Almost all other causes of death – heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and so on – are related to unhealthy microbiome. So, when we get a signal from the health authorities to resume normal life, let’s get back to each other – we have nothing to lose but our masks.
William Reville is an emeritus professor of biochemistry at UCC
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