“The biosphere is the universal sum of all the ecosystems on Earth, or the zone of life for plants, animals, and microbes on the Earth's crust, controlled by a natural self-regulating system”. We often refer to this system as Nature. For any eco-system to thrive, all parties operating within the eco-system "have to" operate in a balanced relationship to one another. The biosphere belongs to no single entity, it’s stability depends on diversity, on every living being, just as the individual beings that live within it depend on it. Too many of one species, or chemical, wreak havoc on an eco-system.
Humans are technically animals, and we are merely one species within the biosphere. The extinction of any plant, animal, or insect, like bees, or the Asian Puma, negatively impacts us just as much as it does the rest of the biosphere. Sometimes symptoms of something being awry in the eco-system show up immediately, and other times, a few thousand years later. Nature has evolved with built in buffers that help it maintain homeostasis but she too has her limits. The same processes exist within the human body, for example the way in which our bodies regulate blood ph., “Human blood contains large amounts of carbonic acid, a weak acid, and bicarbonate, a base. Together they help maintain the bloods pH at 7.4.” If either one is exceeded by the other on account of dietary, or environmental factors, the human body begins to show minor symptoms. Left unaddressed, these symptoms snowball into illnesses, and if further ignored, the illnesses prove fatal.
One should therefore not be surprised that a biological being of Earth, reacts to imbalance in the same way the Earth does. In a famous quote by American physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, he says, “We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.” In other words, we are interlinked, and have evolved from the same source. The one simple fact we over look; is that our lives, our health, our food supply, air quality, water security, and our financial security, all depend on a thriving bio-sphere, and by extension every other species of plant, animal, microbe and chemical that exists. The spiritualists wren’t wrong when they claimed, ‘We Are One’, it turns out, we are. It’s because we are part of a single biosphere, the overwhelming quantity of animals we raise for human consumption also negatively affects the whole, just like excesses affect our bodies.
Recent studies have linked high fat diets with higher production of certain bile acids, that lead to colorectal cancer. “30 types of bile acids float around in the human gut, to help digest food and absorb cholesterol, fats, and fat soluble nutrients." Michael Downes, a senior scientist at Salk Institute, believes, “Maintaining a balance of bile acids is key to reducing cancer growth.”
Balance to most of us usually means a little bit of everything, or everything in moderation but myths like these, are sometimes just as harmful to us as the exact behaviour they are aimed at inspiring us to avoid. For optimal health the human body requires the right ratios of Macro, and micro nutrients based on an individual’s bodily needs, wether that’s healing from an injury, recovering from an illness, or training for athletic adventures.
Eating in moderation may not ensure we’re getting enough of a nutrient we need more of, and may well mean we’re consuming too much of a nutrient we need only trace amounts of. Authors of a Harvard Heart Letter, published by Harvard Health publishing, posit that “Our Paleolithic hunter-gatherer ancestors took in about 11,000 milligrams (mg) of potassium a day from fruits, vegetables, leaves, flowers, roots, and other plant sources, and well under 700 mg of sodium. That's a sodium-to-potassium ratio of 1 to 16. Today, we get more sodium (3,400 mg) than potassium (2,500 mg), for a ratio of 1.36 to 1.” According to Dr. Eric Berg DC, author of the book, The New Body Type, a healthy potassium to sodium ratio is 4:1.
In a study published in 2011 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, it was observed that participants with high sodium-potassium ratios were more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases that resulted in pre-mature deaths. Optimal health, requires not just absorbing large amounts of one nutrient while ignoring others, it’s about eating a precise amount of all the required nutrients in the ideal ratio to one another, so as to help the human body remain in a state of equilibrium, and inhospitable to disease.
Like in an eco-system, a body’s needs change depending on how the system has been disrupted, and how long the disruption has lasted. High quantities of sugar, hormones, bacteria or toxins, cause disturbance in animal bodies, while an eco-system can be disrupted by an imbalanced ratio of green house gases that cause phenomenon like acid rain, forest fires, melting of polar ice caps, floods etc. the scale and length of a disruption dictates the kinds of measures needed to restore homeostasis. In both cases, the longer one waits, the more drastic, and painful the course of action needed to restore balance.
+ Words: Nayomie
Nayomie is an entrepreneur, with a background in design and marketing. She is an advocate for Climate Change mitigation, and animal rights. In this introductory piece, one in a series, she shares with us her opinions on our place within the earths systems, and the fallacy of the everything in moderation approach.