Let Them Eat Dirt, a Belated Book Review
Let Them Eat Dirt provides a comprehensive understanding of the diverse role impact of microbes in the human health. As a parent to an active 1-year-old, this book influenced how I let my kid eat, play and live.
[Disclaimer: This article by no means provide any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment prescription. The content of this article is for personal sharing and informational purpose only. Please consult your medical provider for any questions you may have.]
The Belated Book Review series
I must admit…
As much as I love food blogging, I found it getting increasingly challenging to create, photograph and write about my own gluten-free dairy-free recipes lately. Having an almost walking big baby got me on my toes at all times. To be honest, I can barely catch up with cooking for the family, all the while keeping everybody’s dietary needs and restrictions in mind.
P.S. I do have some easy and budget slowcooker recipes created during my postpartum times to share with all of you, please stay tuned for that!
So recently I picked up reading as my new hobby, especially food and health related ones. Reading helps me relax, but also keeps me learning everyday and inspires my parenting and future recipe development. I hope this new series of book reviews inspires you too.
Contents of Let Them Eat Dirt
Written by B. Brett Finlay, PhD and Marie-Claire Arrieta, PhD, this book presents the influence of microbes on childhood development and what parents can do to support healthy balance of microbes. In this book, the authors outline relationships between microbes and various chronic illnesses. Current research from labs all over the world are presented to backup the claims, though some may be only observed in mice experiments. (Affiliate link below)
Let Them Eat Dirt consists of three parts. Part I explains how microbes play an indispensable role in our body function. It surveys the importance of microbes in human digestive system and immune system. The authors also introduce the impact of over sanitizing and antibiotics before expanding further in part II.
Part II details how microbes involve in early childhood development. From prenatal diet, birth process (see my birth story here!), breastfeeding to introduction of solid foods, the author described how microbes make their way to our little ones. This part also includes chapters on antibiotics, pets and lifestyle where microbes can alter, which then lead to various health outcomes as seen in research.
Part III elaborates how imbalance of microbes can associate with chronic conditions. In particular, the authors presented research showing possible association between varied microbe composition and diseases such as obesity, diabetes, intestinal diseases, asthma and allergies as well mood and behavioral disorders.
Lastly, the authors concluded with an outlook of microbe alteration for disease prevention and cure. This can be in the form of probiotics, genetic sequencing, fecal transfer and personalized diets.
Let my baby eat dirt, my take on the book
Reading this book provides me with a new perspective on health from the lens of microbe diversity and composition. As a health and wellness-conscious food blogger, I am particularly interested how diet plays a role in altering microbes, and thus achieving disease prevention or cure. This book reinforced my understanding on the benefit of fermented foods and fiber as prebiotics. (Cultures for Health is a good resource for home ferment recipes!) I am also inspired to limit sugar and carbohydrate intake to keep disease-related microbes under control. And of course, to remember to take the probiotic instead of letting it sit in my fridge!
Although the link between diet, microbes and chronic diseases still need a lot more research to be conclusive and clinically recommended. I am hopeful that such perspective and approach will benefit my friends and family, eating their way to wellness!
On eating dirt, my husband used to run up and down the ravine near his home as a child. However for me, growing up in the city, I rarely had a chance to be in touch with nature. I cringe at the look of dirt. Until I went into geography for university, I got comfortable in nature through various hikes and field trips.
Now when I let my baby play in the sand or crawl around on the grass, I am more relaxed. And know that such exposure is good for his microbe diversity.
Our gut and overall health is a lot more complicated than we think. Let’s take good care of it, one meal at a time!