Science

1.4 BOLDLY GO WHERE ONLY MICROBES HAVE GONE BEFORE (1)

The story of the human species is being told in our guts, and we need intrepid explorers to chart and decipher the narrative. These explorers are not limited to the laboratory or field research; they can be found in offices, grocery stores, gyms, coffee shops, and brew pubs. A gut explorer is the guy the next office over who eats only raw meat. A gut explorer is the girl behind the counter at the coffee shop who is taking probiotics. A gut explorer is the owner of the local brewery who is vegan. Explorers are everywhere: they are the brave few who—sometimes unwittingly—embark on experiments that affect their gut health in ways that are drastically different from the rest of society. They can appear in many forms and sometimes don’t even know that they are gut explorers. They are your neighbor who obsessively monitors his feces, examining them daily for changes. Every day you encounter gut explorers in many places—some socially acceptable, some aberrant.  You may even be one.

Though they can be found in many places, gut explores are a rare breed. Most of us in the United States are not actively experimenting with our bodies (though most of us probably unknowingly do so). Rather, we are the settlers. No less intelligent or brave, settlers tend to stick with already scientifically charted territory.  Sure, there are those of us, as Temple notes, “when confronted […] with the vast mass of the intestines,” experience “confusion and a feeling of hopelessness” that anything “can possibly observed with any meaning or rigor at all.” But most settlers fall into the category of people who only consider their guts when indigestion requires them to take a Tums.

Settlers wait for the scientific process to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of a way of life. Most of us know that the conventional wisdom of “eat right and exercise” is correct. We’ve had years and years of this methodology proving to be effective. And most of us will live our lives this way: we will try to eat better, try to be more active; and when inevitably, our bodies begin their metabolic decline, we will turn to proven pharmaceuticals (aka technology) despite the possibility of negative side effects because these substances and techniques have been vetted by the established scientific and health system.

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