This is the fifth in a series consisting of an introduction, 19 Chapters, and 2 appendices. Or thereabouts. Over 165,000 words in total, about 400 pages in book length. The whole thing is already completed in draft with almost half of it through first-pass editing. I’m issuing it chapter-by-chapter for Members of this blog. Join here. The publishing schedule is not formal, but an average of a chapter every couple of weeks is a reasonable expectation.
Of note: this is perhaps my favorite chapter in the series.
- THE MAIN BRIGADES
- COLLATERAL DAMAGE
- THE HURT LOCKER
- GET ME HQ ON THE LINE
- TACTICS AND TRAINING
- ET TU, BRUTE?
Envision a battlefield, and what does your mind’s eye conjure up? A big field? Soldiers in two types of uniforms? Various weapons? Probably that’s what most people see. But did you know that there’s a battlefield right inside your human gut and other places too (mouth, nose, ears, vagina, and birth canal, etc.)? For simplicity, let’s focus on the human gut where between the small and large intestine, you have a battlefield with a surface area the size of a tennis court, and a war is raging between 100 trillion microscopic soldiers of 500-1,000 species, and each species has different weapons to use against other species.
Envisioning that battlefield would more closely resemble something out of Star Wars with all different sorts of aliens locked in conflict to the death. We’ve already discussed many of the jobs your gut microbiome takes on. These microbes make vitamins, absorb minerals, and create brain-signaling chemicals, among other things. But one of their most important functions is to guard their home or battlefield, since their home is never at peace. The number one priority of your microbiome at large is to keep its environment safe for Democracy, by which we mean a sort of perverse majority rule where the majority—those generally beneficial to the host—attempt to exterminate or at least keep numbers (the minority) under control that do damage to the host and by extension, the home of all the good guys that need a continuous supply of food, living their lives of a few hours to a few days in non-stop action.
The war that rages is one of creating an environment suitable for the growth of your beneficial microbes, while making it tough for your pathogenic ones to even “breathe.” That’s the strategic part, if you’ve read your military history. Tactically, they can also unleash skirmishes to quell an uprising.