Healthy Reading: Missing Microbes, by Martin J Blaser


How the overuse of antibiotics is fueling our modern plagues.

The premise of this book is to teach the reader about the impact over prescribing antibiotics has on human health. Blaser discusses the evidence showing antibiotic overuse causes resistance in microbes, as well as an increase in many diseases related to microbiome imbalance. Blaser starts the book off by discussing some of the modern plagues such as obesity and autoimmune conditions, asthma, eczema, etc that are attributed to antibiotic overuse, and a decrease in beneficial microbes.

The idea is that modern plagues are happening because we have made our world too clean. The result is that our children’s immune systems have become quiescent, and are therefore prone to false alarms and friendly fire. A lot of parents try to ramp up their kids’ immune systems by exposing them to pets, farm animals, or barn yards, or better yet, allowing them to eat dirt.

Blaser explains some basic microbiology and discusses the necessary role microbes have in the human body. He tries to help the reader grasp the concept of how vast the microbiome is, encompassing all parts of the world around us. He explains how millions of microbes can fit into just the eye of needled. He reviews many of the different types of bacteria that make up the human microbiome, and some of the roles each type of bacteria play within various parts of the human body.

Without microbes we could not eat or breathe. Without us, most microbes would do just fine.

We learn how early and frequent antibiotic use disrupts the balance of good bacteria, and thus contributes to many of these modern health issues related to gut bacteria. He discusses many of the different ways we establish our microbiome, such as through the vaginal canal at birth, and during breastfeeding and being handled by mother, skin to skin. Overuse of antibiotics by both mother and infant offset this delicate balance of microbes and disrupts normal biological processes.

The reader gains an understanding of the link between the rise of pathogenic diseases and microbiome health. He talks about parasites, plagues, and the rise of health issues that took place during the Industrial Revolution, and from that time period until present.

Blaser discussed the link to gut microbiome imbalance and GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux, obesity and other modern day disease processes. He focuses on antibiotics and their effect on the entire microbiome. He wants the reader to understand the magnitude that common use of antibiotics are having on us. He discusses not only antibiotics prescribed by Doctors, but all covers the impact of modern farming practices compared to the lifestyle of our early ancestors.

Missing Microbes is well written for the common layperson to understand the concepts presented. The information is interesting and compelling, and there is an emphasis on the urgency there is for us to address these issues, and restore the microbiome balance both within ourselves and in the environment. Blaser shares many fascinating statistics! This book is important read for everyone concerned with our current state of health.

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