In my recent article entitled Mainstream Medicine Overlooks the Two Major Causes of Chronic Illness I made the case that dysbiosis and chronic low-grade inflammation are at the root of a long list of diseases and health problems. In support of that statement, I cited a diverse selection of scientific papers that have been published over the past couple of decades.
A natural question that arises from the above assertion is: What is the best treatment for dysbiosis and chronic inflammation? At the end of my earlier article I made the statement that a Paleo-inspired lifestyle, coupled with microbiome restoration, is the “medicine” of choice for dysbiosis and inflammation. I also argued that it’s the medicine that most effectively addresses the evolutionary mismatches that underlie the dysbiosis/inflammation pandemic.
In today’s article, which I intend to keep short, I thought I’d expend on that idea.
The crux of the problem
The thing that’s important to acknowledge from the get go is that diseases and health problems associated with chronic inflammation and microbiota disturbances were much less prevalent in the past than they are now. This statement is supported by a big pile of data derived from a great variety of different research studies (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
It’s only very recently – on an evolutionary time scale – that type-1 diabetes, colon cancer, acne vulgaris, rheumatoid arthritis, and many other conditions characterized by microbiota disturbances and inflammation became common. Hunter-gatherers don’t get these diseases (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Neither do other non-westernized people who adhere to a traditional lifestyle (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
This clearly suggests that there’s something about our modern environment that’s messing with our bodies and increasing our susceptibility to a variety of different illnesses. We can’t blame our genes, seeing as our genes have changed fairly little over the past millennia.
Even if the genome of the modern man had been markedly different from that of the late Paleolithic man, that wouldn’t mean that we could blame our health problems on our genes, seeing as it makes absolutely no sense for natural selection to drive the frequency of alleles that are detrimental in the context of inflammation-associated disease risk up, given that inflammation-associated diseases tend to go hand in hand with impaired sexual function, low libido, increased mortality, and other problems that can adversely affect a person’s Darwinian fitness.
Hence, there has to be our environment there’s something “wrong” with, not our genes. Obviously, our genetic make-up does affect our risk of getting sick; however, in most cases, specific environmental triggers are required to actually make us fall ill.
Disease goes hand in hand with microbiome disruption
It could be argued that the two primary factors that determine our health are diet quality and microbiota composition. Other things, including sleep, physical activity, genetics, and sun exposure, are contributing factors, in the sense that they affect the composition of the microbial ecosystems we harbor, as well as our disease risk via other mechanisms.
Over the past couple of decades, it has become increasingly clear that microbiome disruption is a central issue in most disease processes. Virtually every disease under the sun – not just chronic illnesses, but also acute ones – has been linked with genome-microbiome mismatches. One could go as far as to say that disease is always accompanied by microbiome disruption (6). Microbiome disruption, in turn, goes hand in hand with inflammation. Microbiota disturbances can occur secondary to inflammation and disease; however, they can also drive the development of inflammation and disease.
A person who eats a species-inappropriate diet and harbors a degraded, imbalanced microbiota is much more likely to get sick than a person who eats a species-appropriate diet and harbors a diverse, resilient, and stable microbiota. The reason is simple: The latter person’s body, including his immune system, is receiving the types of stimuli it is evolutionarily designed to need in order to function correctly. The same cannot be said for the former person, who will likely be exposed to a steady stream of endotoxins and other problematic compounds and have a chronically activated immune system.
Ancient solutions to modern health problems
The only logical conclusion that can be drawn from the scientific evidence pertaining to the etiology, distribution, and pathogenesis of inflammation/dysbiosis-driven diseases is that species-appropriate nutrition and microbiome restoration should be at the center of the treatment of type-1 diabetes, acne vulgaris, and other diseases and health problems that have inflammation and dysbiosis at their roots.
A treatment approach centered around microbiome restoration and species-appropriate nutrition may not bring about complete symptom eradication in every single patient case; however, it will undoubtedly cause marked health improvements in most instances. Obviously, the approach is general in nature and will have to be customized based on each patient’s medical history, needs, and health status. In cases where the microbiota of the patient is in a fairly good state, species-appropriate nutrition by itself may be sufficient to bring about significant health improvements.
Not every disease and health problem under the sun is closely linked with inflammation and dysbiosis; hence, not every disease will respond to the treatment approach outlined in today’s article. Perhaps needless to say, a healthy diet, coupled with microbiome restoration, won’t cure conditions like myopia or lower back pain. With that said, very many diseases and health problems are caused, at least in part, by dysbiosis and inflammation, and will therefore respond to a treatment program that addresses these issues.
Before we wrap up, I think it’s important to point out that the things I’ve talked about in this article don’t just apply to humans. The reasons why we humans are vulnerable to disease are similar to the reasons why other organisms are vulnerable to disease. Many other organisms harbor complex microbial communities and are prone to develop inflammation-related illnesses if they are exposed to environmental conditions they are not well adapted for.