We have all heard of taking turmeric (curcumin) with black pepper (piperine) to enhance the bioavailability and absorption of curcumin. Piperine, the bioactive compound found in black pepper, has been shown to significantly increase the absorption of curcumin by inhibiting metabolic enzymes that break it down and increasing intestinal permeability.

Curcumin is a highly effective anti-inflammatory agent valuable in managing inflammatory conditions like arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, and certain cancers by blocking inflammatory molecules like cytokines and enzymes like cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), a potent antioxidant capable of neutralizing free radicals and reducing oxidative stress, a major contributor to aging and chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, where it may help protect against age-related conditions by scavenging free radicals and boosting the body’s antioxidant defenses, and exhibits anti-cancer properties by inhibiting tumor growth, metastasis, angiogenesis, and inducing apoptosis in cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed, with numerous studies exploring its potential in preventing and treating various cancers, including breast, prostate, colon, and lung cancer.

Piperine is not an emulsifier. Piperine and emulsifiers are different types of compounds that enhance bioavailability through different mechanisms.  Emulsifiers are substances that help stabilize mixtures of two immiscible liquids, such as oil and water, by preventing them from separating into distinct layers. They work by surrounding oil droplets with a protective layer, increasing their surface area, and making it easier for digestive enzymes and bile salts to break them down, facilitating the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients or compounds.

Black pepper that enhances bioavailability primarily through two mechanisms:

  1. Inhibiting metabolic enzymes: Piperine inhibits certain enzymes like glucuronidation enzymes that are responsible for breaking down and eliminating compounds like curcumin from the body. By inhibiting these enzymes, piperine allows more of the compound to remain intact and available for absorption.
  2. Increasing intestinal permeability: Piperine has been shown to increase the permeability of the intestinal lining, allowing for better absorption of compounds like curcumin into the bloodstream.

However, if someone has a leaky gut or increased intestinal permeability, there are some important considerations regarding the use of piperine. While piperine can enhance nutrient absorption by increasing intestinal permeability, this mechanism may exacerbate an already compromised gut barrier in cases of leaky gut. With increased intestinal permeability, there is a higher risk of undigested food particles, toxins, and other antigenic substances entering the bloodstream, potentially triggering an immune response and inflammation. Furthermore, piperine may also facilitate the absorption of harmful substances, such as bacterial endotoxins or environmental toxins, which could further contribute to inflammation and gut dysbiosis.

IIn such cases, it may be advisable to avoid or limit the use of piperine until the gut barrier is repaired and intestinal permeability is improved. Instead, the focus should be on natural gut-healing strategies, such as eliminating inflammatory foods, consuming gut-supportive nutrients from sources like bone broth (which provides collagen peptides and glutamine), pumpkin seeds (zinc), sweet potatoes (vitamin A), and mushrooms (vitamin D), and incorporating  probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables.

Also, one can consider using alternative bioavailability enhancers that do not increase intestinal permeability, such as emulsifiers (lecithin from soy or sunflower), lipid carriers, or absorption-enhancing enzymes like bromelain from pineapples (core) and papain from papaya.  Consider making a powerful juice!

The goal should be to first restore a healthy gut barrier and reduce intestinal permeability through natural means, after which piperine may be reintroduced cautiously to improve nutrient absorption as part of a comprehensive terrain therapy approach.

Emulsifiers possess a unique molecular structure with both hydrophilic (water-loving) and lipophilic (fat-loving) regions, allowing them to interact with both water and oil molecules simultaneously. When introduced into a mixture of oil and water, emulsifiers form stable emulsions by surrounding the oil droplets with a protective layer, preventing them from coalescing and separating from the water phase. This emulsification process significantly increases the surface area of the oil droplets, making it easier for digestive enzymes, such as lipases and bile salts, to break them down and facilitate the absorption of the fat-soluble nutrients or compounds they contain. 

Emulsifiers serve as effective “medicinal transfer agents,” facilitating the absorption and delivery of beneficial compounds like curcumin into the body. Just as piperine enhances curcumin’s bioavailability, emulsifiers play a crucial role in improving the solubility and dispersibility of fat-soluble nutrients and lipophilic compounds in the digestive tract. By forming stable emulsions and increasing the surface area of oil droplets, emulsifiers promote better digestion and absorption of these beneficial substances. Lecithin, phospholipids, and liposomes are common emulsifiers used in supplements and functional foods for this purpose.

IInterestingly, cacao (cocoa) butter, the natural fat found in pure chocolate, possesses emulsifying properties due to its unique composition of fatty acids and phospholipids. This characteristic makes cacao a potential natural emulsifier that may enhance the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients and medicinal compounds when consumed alongside them. This is one reason why I like to incorporate medicinal herbs into pure cacao preparations, as the cacao butter can act as a natural emulsifier, potentially improving the bioavailability and delivery of the beneficial compounds found in those herbs.

Emulsifiers help our bodies absorb and use fat-soluble nutrients and compounds better. They do this in two main ways. First, emulsifiers can mix with bile salts, which are substances released by the liver into the small intestine to help digest and absorb fats and fat-soluble things. When emulsifiers and bile salts combine, they form tiny structures called mixed micelles. These mixed micelles can wrap around and carry fat-soluble nutrients and compounds, helping them move across the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream more easily.

Secondly, some emulsifiers can interact with special transporters found on the cells lining the intestine. These transporters are like little doorways that allow nutrients and compounds to pass through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream. By interacting with these transporters, emulsifiers can help fat-soluble substances that they have dissolved or encapsulated to be taken up and absorbed more efficiently. For example, emulsifiers like lecithin and phospholipids may interact with transporters that are responsible for absorbing fats, vitamins, and other fat-soluble things, potentially increasing their absorption.

In simple terms, emulsifiers not only help dissolve and disperse fat-soluble nutrients and compounds in the digestive system but also actively assist in their journey across the intestinal barrier. This happens through the formation of mixed micelles that act as carriers and by interacting with special transporters on intestinal cells, ultimately leading to better absorption and use of these beneficial fat-soluble substances in the body.

Common emulsifiers used for enhancing bioavailability include lecithin (derived from soy or sunflower), phospholipids (such as phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylserine), and liposomes (spherical vesicles made of phospholipids). These emulsifiers can be found in supplements, functional foods, and pharmaceutical formulations designed to improve the solubility, dispersibility, and ultimately, the absorption and bioavailability of fat-soluble nutrients and lipophilic compounds like curcumin.

While focusing on gut-healing strategies like eliminating inflammatory foods, consuming gut-supportive nutrients from natural sources like bone broth (glutamine), pumpkin seeds (zinc), sweet potatoes (vitamin A), and mushrooms (vitamin D), and incorporating natural supplements like l-glutamine, collagen peptides, and probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables, you can incorporate emulsifiers to enhance curcumin’s bioavailability. The goal should be to first restore a healthy gut barrier and reduce intestinal permeability through natural means, after which piperine may be reintroduced cautiously to improve nutrient absorption as part of a comprehensive terrain therapy approach.

Turmeric-Cacao Anti-Inflammatory (emulsifier) Chocolate


– 1/2 cup cacao butter or cocoa butter
– 1/4 cup cacao paste (or 100% unsweetened chocolate)
– 2 tablespoons ground turmeric
– 2 tablespoons MCT coconut oil (acts as an emulsifier)
– 2 tablespoons raw honey
– 1 teaspoon ground ginger
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
– 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
– 1 tablespoon hemp seeds (optional)


  1. In a double boiler or heat-safe bowl set over a pot of simmering water, gently melt the cacao/cocoa butter and MCT coconut oil, stirring occasionally until completely liquid.
  2. Remove from heat and whisk in the cacao paste, turmeric, honey, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and sea salt until well combined and smooth.
  3. If using, stir in the hemp seeds.
  4. Pour the mixture into silicone molds or onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread it out evenly.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until completely set.
  6. Once set, pop the chocolate out of the molds or break it into pieces if poured onto a sheet.
  7. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

This anti-inflammatory, gut-healing chocolate features several powerful ingredients. The cacao butter and MCT coconut oil act as natural emulsifiers, potentially enhancing the absorption of the anti-inflammatory turmeric. Ginger and cinnamon provide additional anti-inflammatory benefits, while cayenne pepper offers a subtle kick of heat and may also have anti-inflammatory properties. Hemp seeds (optional) add a nutty flavor and a boost of plant-based protein and healthy fats.

Living Ground’s journey is at a crucial juncture, and I’m reaching out for your support. Currently, I’m personally covering the weekly wages of our dedicated local staff, amounting to $615 per week. The responsibility is immense, and I’m working tirelessly to keep this lifeline intact.   Currently, I am employing 4 local men (from Masanamaca) full time.   They are amazing people who are working hard to both transform lands and build the project.   Then there are 4 part-timers and again, all from our little community Masanamaca.  They help with the gardens, weeding, weed waking, harvesting, collecting seeds.    All team members are learning.  I desire all team members to become leaders in Ecuador and spread this work to their fellow country -men and women as far as possible.   They will have a stronger impact that the gringos (foreigners).    This is very important work.

Our projects, from market gardens to a secret herbal garden, a commercial kitchen, apprenticeship quarters, and more, are shaping a future of self-reliance. I’m committed to this cause, taking no profits and channeling all my efforts into sustaining the team’s wages through my Live Blood practice and product sales.  We are also creating sales and offering consults, microbe compost, a weekly UPick and gearing up to sell strange, rare and perculiar seeds and plants.    The commercial kitchen is almost complete and we will offer microbe-garden to plate dinners (fundraisers) soon.

Your support is pivotal. A mere $5 weekly, equivalent to a cup of coffee in the north, can make a substantial impact.   We have set up reoccuring donations that can be done weekly or monthly.   By contributing, you actively participate in fostering sustainable practices and training locals to spread this work. – from nurturing soil microbes to promoting human health.

Please join me in empowering human self-reliance. Your generosity ensures the continuation of valuable projects contributing to a healthier, more sustainable future. Let’s make a difference together.

Donate now and be a part of Living Ground’s journey towards empowering human self-reliance!    We need your support!  Muchas Gracias and many thanks!



At Living Ground we are always researching and creating products to help the micriobiome (that includes for the soil and the human).

Introducing a new product that combines the power of bovine colostrum, yogurt, probiotic supplements, and vitamin C to boost your immune system and promote overall health.

GcMAF is a protein that is naturally produced by the body’s immune system. It helps to activate macrophages, which are a type of white blood cell that plays a key role in the immune response. GcMAF has been shown to have a number of potential health benefits, including boosting the immune system, repairing damaged tissue, preventing the growth and spread of viruses and pathogens, reducing inflammation, and protecting against cancer.   While GcMAF is naturally produced by the body, some people may not produce enough of it. This can lead to a weakened immune system and an increased risk of developing chronic diseases.

Our new product is designed to help people boost their GcMAF levels and improve their overall health. It is made with a unique blend of local, fresh bovine colostrum, yogurt, probiotic supplements, and vitamin C. These ingredients have been shown to work synergistically to promote the production of GcMAF.

GcMAF is crucial for a healthy functioning immune system. It repairs damaged tissue, supports the immune system in preventing infections, and helps to fight cancer.  GcMAF stands for Gc protein-derived macrophage activating factor. It is a protein that is naturally produced by the body’s immune system. GcMAF helps to activate macrophages, which are a type of white blood cell that plays a key role in the immune response.

GcMAF is not naturally present in blend of bovine colostrum, yogurt, probiotic supplements and vitamin C. However, the cool thing is when these ingredients are combined, they can create an environment that is conducive to the production of GcMAF by the body’s own immune system.

Bovine colostrum contains growth factors that can help to heal and protect the gut lining. This is important because the gut is where most of the body’s immune cells are produced. When the gut is healthy, it can produce more GcMAF.

Yogurt contains probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that live in the gut. Probiotics help to keep the gut healthy and can also help to boost the immune system.   This this we added a powerful Probiotic supplement that contains concentrated amounts of beneficial bacteria. These supplements can help to further improve gut health and boost the immune system.

Finally we added our homemade Vitamin C which acts as an antioxidant that can help to protect the body from damage. Vitamin C can also help to improve immune function.

When these ingredients are combined, they can create a synergistic effect that can help to boost the immune system and promote the production of GcMAF.

Here is a more detailed explanation of how each ingredient can contribute to the production of GcMAF:

  • Bovine colostrum: Colostrum contains growth factors that can help to heal and protect the gut lining. This is important because the gut is where most of the body’s immune cells are produced. When the gut is healthy, it can produce more GcMAF.
  • Yogurt: Yogurt contains probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that live in the gut. Probiotics help to keep the gut healthy and can also help to boost the immune system. When probiotics are present in the gut, they can help to produce more GcMAF.
  • Probiotic supplement: Probiotic supplements contain concentrated amounts of beneficial bacteria. These supplements can help to further improve gut health and boost the immune system. When probiotic supplements are taken, they can help to increase the production of GcMAF.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help to protect the body from damage. Vitamin C can also help to improve immune function. When vitamin C is present in the body, it can help to increase the production of GcMAF.

Colostrum: A Powerful Immune Booster

When you contract a bacterial or “bad guy” illness, your immune system responds by activating NK cells, which attack and destroy the offenders. Colostrum, the fluid produced by new mothers in the first few days after birth, can help support NK cell function and improve your immune response.   People with lower levels of NK cells are more susceptible to the flu. Colostrum can also help to reduce inflammation, improve metabolism, and protect against cancer.  In addition to supporting NK cells, colostrum contains growth factors that can help to heal and protect the gut lining. This can help to reduce symptoms of leaky gut syndrome, which can lead to inflammation and other health problems.

Colostrum also contains antibodies and lactoferrin, which help to maintain a healthy gut microbiome. A healthy microbiome is essential for overall health and well-being.

GcMAF Probiotic Yogurt can help to support overall health by:

  • Normalizing immunity
  • Normalizing bowel function
  • Improving energy levels
  • Improving mental clarity
  • Reducing food allergies
  • Optimizing athletic performance
  • Promoting longevity
  • Anti-carcinogenic

Our GcMAF Probiotic Yogurt is also beneficial for people with compromised immune systems, such as those with:

  • AIDS
  • Allergies
  • Autism spectrum conditions
  • Bacterial infections
  • Cancer
  • Candidiasis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Dermatitis
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Fungal infections
  • Frequent infections
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Heart disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Lupus
  • Lyme disease
  • Severe IBS
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Viral infections
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Yeast infections
  • Obesity

If you are looking for a way to improve your overall health and well-being, GcMAF Vitamin C Probiotic Yogurt is a great option to consider. It is a safe and effective way to boost your immune system and support overall health.


Shifting the Medical Paradigm with GcMAF and Raw Milk


Most realize that Compost is a mixture of organic materials that have been decomposed by microorganisms. It is a valuable soil amendment that can improve the fertility, structure, and water retention of soil.  Most do not realize the difference between organic compost, obone (manure) and Microbe Compost.  Here we explain the difference and why Microbe Compost is so important….

Microbe compost is made using a science process that encourages the growth of beneficial microorganisms.   Our aim is to remove all pathogens and enhance the environment for the benficial organisms.   We liken this to a probiotic!    Just like in the human microbiome, these microorganisms help to break down organic matter more quickly and efficiently than in regular organic compost.    We often say we are not making compost we are farming microbes.   And, we get to determine how our compost is with the microscope.   This is an important tool of our work.

Regular organic compost is made using a more traditional method that does not specifically target the growth of beneficial microorganisms. This type of compost can still be beneficial for plants, but it may not be as effective as microbe compost.   Also, it takes much longer and in the process may be home to many bad guy microbes.

Obono is pure manure and does contain pathogens most of the time.  Manure also is like the chemical fertilizers as it forces plant growth with Nitrogen.    A big beautiful plant may appear that is air, water and nitrogen and little else.

Here are four key differences between microbe compost and regular organic compost:

  1. Microbe compost is like a probiotic. Probiotics are live microorganisms that are beneficial for the gut. 
  2. Microbe compost is more potent. Because microbe compost is made using a process that encourages the growth of beneficial microorganisms, it contains higher levels of these microorganisms than regular organic compost. This means that microbe compost can have a more immediate and noticeable impact on the health of plants and soil.
  3. Microbe compost is more versatile. Microbe compost can be used for a wider variety of purposes than regular organic compost. It can be used to improve the fertility, structure, and water retention of soil, as well as to suppress plant diseases and pests. Regular organic compost is typically used for improving the fertility and structure of soil.
  4. Microbe compost is more sustainable.  It is mimicking Nature.  It is ensuring life “pro-biotic” literally means “pro life”

Organic Matter OM

In addition to microbe compost and regular organic compost, we also offer specialized Organic Matter.  Our OM is like a Prebiotic.  It feeds the microbes.

Living Grounds OM is a blend of woody materials that is aged and sprayed with microbe extract.   Most wood chips contain “anit-fungals” so the aging process is very imporatant.    Our OMis similar to microbe compost in that it contains beneficial microorganisms, but it is less potent. Organic matter is a good option for improving the structure and water retention of soil, but it is not as effective as microbe compost for improving the fertility of soil.

Which type of compost is right for you?

The best type of compost for you will depend on your specific needs and goals. If you are looking for a compost that is effective, versatile, and sustainable, then microbe compost is a best option. If you are looking for a compost that is less expensive and easier to make, then regular Organic Matter is a good option. And if you are looking for a compost that can help to improve the structure and water retention of soil, then both Microbe Compost and OM is a good option.

It is important to note that organic compost is not always safe. The process of making compost is not always monitored closely, so there is a chance that pathogens could exist in the compost and quite often do.    These pathogens can be harmful to plants and humans. It is important to test compost for pathogens before using it.  Here is where the benefit of our microscope come in.

Another thing to keep in mind is that organic compost can force growth. This means that the plants may grow quickly, but they may not be as healthy as plants that are grown with a more natural approach. The plants may also be more susceptible to pests and diseases.

In a way, organic matter is like the food that we eat, while microbe compost is like the probiotics that we take. Both are important for our health, but they work in different ways. Organic matter provides the nutrients that our bodies need, while probiotics help to keep our gut healthy and functioning properly.

In the same way, organic matter provides the nutrients that plants need, while microbe compost helps to keep the soil healthy and functioning properly. Healthy soil is essential for healthy plants, just as a healthy gut is essential for a healthy human.

If you are looking for a way to improve the health of your soil and plants, then microbe compost is for you.   Remember, we are actively consulting with land owners to regenerate lands, soils and homesteads.   We work within the budget and goals of our clients to bring life back to the soil.   Contact us for more information!   


Let’s discuss the similarities between gluten sensitivity and glyphosate toxicity. I believe that many  who think they are gluten sensitive may actually be glyphosate toxic.   

Glyphosate was discovered in 1950 by a Swiss chemist named Henry Martin. It was originally developed as a chelating agent, but later found to be an effective herbicide. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, a widely used herbicide that is sprayed on crops to kill weeds. It is also used in other products, such as herbicides for lawns and gardens, and in animal feed.

Glyphosate works by inhibiting an enzyme called EPSPS, which is essential for the production of aromatic amino acids in plants. This causes the plant to die. Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide, which means that it kills both weeds and crops. However, it is more effective at killing weeds than crops. EPSPS is an enzyme that is involved in the shikimate pathway. It is responsible for the conversion of shikimate-3-phosphate to 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate.  The shikimate pathway is a metabolic pathway that is used by plants, bacteria, and fungi to synthesize aromatic amino acids.

The shikimate pathway is essential for the production of aromatic amino acids, which are used to synthesize proteins, vitamins, and other essential compounds. Glyphosate inhibits EPSPS, which blocks the shikimate pathway and prevents the production of aromatic amino acids. This is what kills plants that are exposed to glyphosate.

A little side note here…..It is interesting that Glyphosate and SARS-CoV-2 both affect the shikimate pathway, although in different ways. Glyphosate inhibits EPSPS, which blocks the shikimate pathway and prevents the plant from producing aromatic amino acids. SARS-CoV-2 hijacks the host cell’s shikimate pathway and uses it to produce the aromatic amino acids that it needs to replicate.   

Here are similarities between glyphosate and SARS-CoV-2:

  • Both can affect the shikimate pathway.
  • Both can be harmful to living organisms.
  • Both can be found in the environment.

Glyphosate is a controversial herbicide. Some people believe that it is safe, while others believe that it is a dangerous chemical that can cause cancer and other health problems. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified glyphosate as a likely not carcinogenic to humans, but the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified it as a probable carcinogen.

The use of glyphosate is increasing worldwide. In the United States, it is the most widely used herbicide. The use of glyphosate has been linked to the decline of certain beneficial insects, such as bees and butterflies. It has also been linked to the development of herbicide-resistant weeds.

Is glyphosate a toxin and danger?

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. This means that there is enough evidence to suggest that glyphosate can cause cancer in humans.
  • The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the WHO, has also classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen.
  • The European Union has classified glyphosate as a likely carcinogen. This means that there is limited evidence to suggest that glyphosate can cause cancer in humans.
  • The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified glyphosate as a likely not carcinogenic to humans. However, the EPA’s decision has been criticized by many scientists, who believe that the EPA’s assessment is flawed.

The debate over the safety of glyphosate is ongoing but I think that anyone with any common sense knows it is a dangerous toxin. The weight of evidence suggests that glyphosate is a toxin that can pose a risk to human health.

There’s evidence that glyphosate harms human health in a few ways, including:

  • Cancer: The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, meaning that it is likely to cause cancer. The IARC’s classification is based on a review of several studies that have found an association between glyphosate exposure and cancer, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, and multiple myeloma. However, the EPA has classified glyphosate as a likely not carcinogenic to humans. The EPA’s classification is based on a review of different studies, including some that have not found an association between glyphosate exposure and cancer. More research is needed to determine the true cancer risk of glyphosate exposure.

    Neurotoxicity: Some studies have shown that glyphosate may be neurotoxic, meaning that it can damage the nervous system. For example, a study published in the journal Neurotoxicology in 2019 found that glyphosate exposure can damage the brains of rats. However, other studies have found no evidence of neurotoxicity. More research is needed to clarify the potential neurotoxicity of glyphosate exposure.

    Endocrine disruption: Glyphosate may disrupt the endocrine system, which is responsible for regulating hormones. This could lead to a variety of health problems, such as reproductive problems and thyroid disorders. For example, a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives in 2013 found that glyphosate exposure can disrupt the production of testosterone in rats. However, other studies have not found an association between glyphosate exposure and endocrine disruption. More research is needed to determine the true risks of endocrine disruption from glyphosate exposure.

    Reproductive problems: Glyphosate may cause reproductive problems, such as decreased sperm count and fertility problems. For example, a study published in the journal Reproductive Toxicology in 2018 found that glyphosate exposure can decrease sperm count in rats. However, other studies have not found an association between glyphosate exposure and reproductive problems. More research is needed to determine the true risks of reproductive problems from glyphosate exposure.

    Gut health: Glyphosate may disrupt the gut microbiome, which is the community of bacteria that live in the gut. This could lead to a variety of health problems, such as digestive problems and autoimmune diseases. For example, a study published in the journal Nature Microbiology in 2020 found that glyphosate exposure can disrupt the gut microbiome in mice. However, other studies have not found an association between glyphosate exposure and gut health problems. More research is needed to determine the true risks of gut health problems from glyphosate exposure.

There is growing evidence that glyphosate can damage the proteins in gluten, making it less digestible. This can cause symptoms in people who are sensitive to gluten.   The symptoms of gluten sensitivity and glyphosate toxicity can be very similar. They can include:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Skin rashes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

It can be difficult to tell the difference between gluten sensitivity and glyphosate toxicity, especially if you have been exposed to both. However, there are a few things that you can do to help you determine the cause of your symptoms.

  • Get tested for gluten sensitivity. There is a blood test that can be used to diagnose gluten sensitivity.
  • Avoid gluten for a period of time and see if your symptoms improve. If your symptoms improve when you avoid gluten, then you are likely gluten sensitive.

There are a few things that you can do to naturally cleanse your body of this toxin.

  • Eat a healthy diet. A healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help to detoxify your body and improve your overall health. These foods are high in antioxidants and help the microbiome which can help to remove toxins from the body.
  • Drink filtered water. Glyphosate can be found in tap water, so it is important to drink filtered water whenever possible.
  • Supplements. There are a number of supplements that can help to detoxify your body from glyphosate, such as activated charcoal, chlorella, and spirulina. Activated charcoal is a natural substance that can bind to toxins and help to remove them from the body. Chlorella and spirulina are types of algae that are high in antioxidants and other nutrients that can help to support the body’s natural detoxification processes.
  • Use herbs. There are a number of herbs that can help to detoxify your body from glyphosate, such as dandelion root, burdock root, and milk thistle. Dandelion root is a natural diuretic that can help to flush toxins out of the body. Burdock root is a liver tonic that can help to support the body’s natural detoxification processes. Milk thistle is a liver protectant that can help to repair damage caused by toxins.  These herbs are all in our Liver Love The Blood Tincture.

Other ways to reduce exposure to glyphosate

  • Buy organic foods whenever possible. Organic crops are not sprayed with glyphosate.   Even better, buy microbe grown plants.
  • If you do not know where you produce is coming from, wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them. This will help to remove any residual glyphosate that may be on the surface of the food.
  • Avoid processed foods. Processed foods are often high in glyphosate.
  • Avoid drinking tap water. Glyphosate can be found in tap water, so it is important to drink filtered water whenever possible.
  • Avoid using herbicides and pesticides around your home.Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It is what gives these grains their chewy texture. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, a herbicide that is widely used to kill weeds. It is a systemic herbicide, which means that it is absorbed by the plant and moves throughout its tissues.

Microbe extracts are more environmentally friendly, less harmful to humans, and can be more effective than glyphosate.  Microbe extracts are not known to be harmful. Some studies have shown that microbe extracts can be as effective as glyphosate at killing weeds, and they can also help to improve the health of the soil.

Here are some of the specific reasons why microbe extracts may be better than glyphosate:

  • Microbe extracts are more environmentally friendly: Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide, which means that it kills both weeds and crops. This can have a negative impact on the environment, as it can kill beneficial organisms as well as harmful ones. Microbe extracts, on the other hand, are more targeted and are less likely to harm the environment.
  • Microbe extracts are less harmful to humans: There is some evidence that glyphosate may be harmful to human health, as it has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, reproductive problems, and gut health problems. Microbe extracts, on the other hand, are not known to be harmful to humans.
  • Microbe extracts can be more effective than glyphosate: Microbe extracts can be as effective as glyphosate at killing weeds. In addition, microbe extracts can help to improve the health of the soil, which can lead to healthier plants.


Recently, I embarked on a journey to the Ecuadorian seaside.  The purpose was to write.  Living Ground is creating our education platform to share our knowledge and self-reliance, health and microbes.  We are creating courses on Microbe Compost, Growing Food and Medicine, Layperson’s Guide to Live Blood Analysis, Alternative Protocols, Kitchen Alchemy, and a comprehensive herbal guide.

I wrote!  I wrote a lot.  Amid this ocean waves sound track, a newfound inspiration surged within me, prompting me to embark on a profound new idea that is perhaps uncharted  in thought and creation (to the best of my knowledge)   

I found myself meticulously crafting the herbal course and it underwent a transformative evolution. I’ve selected 43 herbs, each possessing universal adaptability (can grow anywhere) and have detailed their potent medicinal properties and cultivation methods.  I created characters for the herbs giving them a creation story with a special microbe..the symbiotic relationship.

Yet, the journey didn’t end there; it evolved into a deeper inquiry into the symbiotic relationship between these plants and the microbial world.   Those who know me know I am enthralled by the intricate dance between flora and microbes, I also found myself exploring and writing about the delicate equilibrium that shapes our ecosystem and human microbiome.    It was exhilarating  to say the least and I wrote over 250 pages during my coastal sojourn.  I beleive it is maybe 1/2 complete.

The comprehensive manual for the layperson’s Live Blood Analysis course nears completion, awaiting only the addition of visual aids to enhance its depth. The magnum opus of Microbe Compost, an exploration into the art and science of enriching soil vitality,  is in the final stages of formatting. Equally enthralling is sharing my collection of natural health protocols and terrain theory insights, including a treasury of herbal recipes that bridge the realms of health and culinary alchemy.

As these projectss are slowly reaching their fruition.   It is a labour of love!

Our aspiration is to extend this wealth of knowledge to others.   So, Online platforms will soon offer the courses.

Yet, as much as we embrace the digital age, we hold steadfast to the belief that the most profound learning occurs through tangible experiences. With open arms, we will be able to invite learners, students and seekers to our Project Site, where hands-on engagement breathes life into the written word.   It is slowly and surely coming together.  I am grateful for Mama Sea and the Soil Squad who held down the fort amazingly.    It is a blessing to be working with such generous and kind people!

Our ultimate mission is to send ripples of transformation far and wide, just like a drop in the boundless ocean, as we share the fruits of our labor with a world thirsting for knowledge and healing.

We have an array of lovingly handcrafted products that cater to your well-being. From Bug Off Serums that effectively repel pesky insects to herbal whipped butters, salsas, and vitamin C jams, each creation is a testament to our commitment to excellence and quality. Indulge your taste buds with our mouthwatering curries that celebrate the art of culinary flavors.

As the beginnings of our Natural Health Food Store Pod, we aim to offer our community a variety of amazing products that embody the essence of holistic well-being. However, our secret ingredient lies within the microbes of our soil, which we carefully farm to ensure the highest nutritional value in all our plants.

Join us in this journey of regenerative agriculture and discover the wonders of microbe-rich foods, inspired by the abundance and wisdom of the Earth. Together, we can create a sustainable future and nurture a thriving community dedicated to holistic health and well-being.    To learn more about the nutrition loss, here is a great article https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/soil-depletion-aND-NUTRITION-LOSS/

At Living Ground, we are on a mission to restore the balance between our bodies and the Earth through nurturing the soil and harnessing the potential of beneficial microbes. Our Saturday market serves as a celebration of this vision, where we invite you to experience the joys of living in harmony with nature while nourishing your body and soul with our thoughtfully crafted offerings.


Soil and Soil Microbes…the did you know…..

1. Power in Numbers: Did you know that in just one gram of healthy soil, you can find more microbes than there are people on Earth? That’s over 7 billion microorganisms living in a space smaller than a sugar cube!

2. Biodiversity Hotspot: Soil microbes are incredibly diverse. In fact, scientists estimate that less than 1% of soil microbe species have been identified so far. It’s like exploring a vast jungle of microscopic organisms, waiting to be discovered!

3. Tiny Carbon Managers: Soil microbes are superheroes when it comes to carbon storage. They are responsible for sequestering about 10% of the world’s carbon emissions each year, playing a significant role in mitigating climate change.

4. Nutrient Recyclers: These tiny organisms are experts at recycling nutrients. Approximately 80% of nutrient cycling in ecosystems is facilitated by soil microbes, ensuring the availability of essential elements for plants and sustaining life on Earth.

5. Busy Decomposers: Soil microbes are nature’s cleanup crew. They break down organic matter, such as fallen leaves and dead plants, at an astonishing rate. In fact, they can decompose up to 90% of organic material within just two weeks!

6. Multitasking Microbes: Imagine this: a single microbe capable of performing over 100,000 chemical reactions per second! These multitasking microbes are biochemical powerhouses, driving essential processes in soil and supporting the entire ecosystem.

7. Plant Partnerships: Soil microbes form partnerships with plants through intricate symbiotic relationships. Approximately 85% of all plant species engage in mutually beneficial connections with soil microbes, sharing nutrients and boosting each other’s growth.

8. Soil Health Guardians: Healthy soil ecosystems, teeming with diverse microbes, can suppress plant diseases by up to 70%. These microbial superheroes produce natural antibiotics and activate plant defense mechanisms, protecting our crops and gardens.

9. Living Cities Underground: Picture this fascinating fact: if you could gather all the soil microbes from just one square meter of healthy soil and line them up, they would stretch over 100 kilometers! That’s like a bustling underground city, right beneath our feet.

These captivating percentages and facts highlight the incredible capabilities and significance of soil microbes, inspiring awe and demonstrating their essential role in sustaining life on our planet.

Market Garden POD is rising.   This is a weekly cooperative basket program that will provide produce and products from Microbe Rich soils.  We suspect this POD will be offered to the public the first of the new year.     Our baskets will be freshly harvested produce from our certified Microbe Rich gardens.      The COOP Pod is connected to the Market Garden POD. It is all connected and that is our business values structure…the value of our intentions.So, this is a preliminary announcement for locals interested in being a member of this POD. Please send me your email if so!  (info@livingground.art    We will start slow and gentle at first and grow as the gardens do.


This POD is about providing a weekly basket of Microbe Rich Grown Food and gourmet products. We will have baskets for singles, couples and families. We are creating and designing this as we go..this will be an experiment in how to service you and nourish the soils at the same time.

A lot of what we are doing is moving with the microbes. Our mission is to change the path of war to raising the “little good guys” in mass. Whether that be the little good guys of the soils or little good guy humans (souls).   When you work and love a garden, you have to create. For me, that is most precious experience. Been doing this for decades now. All that learning, discovering and enjoying. It honestly is my most favourite action of my day….garden to my tummy. I love to alchemize the garden for enjoyment of the senses.

These skills of experience are a part of the Living Ground. Everything is connected. In the last 2 years I have discovered the microbes and learned how to harness and make them happy. They work with the plants to ensure bounty. I harvest the plant with joy. I make food and medicine. I am apart of the microbes and they are a part of me. It is really quite simple.

Living Ground will offer gourmet, nutrient dense, taste bud delight foods. We made Basil Infused Sun Dried Tomatoes, started a wine of basil vinegar (watermelon homemade wine) that is florescent green, buttered up a turmeric pepper horseradish sauce. There is plenty and more than plenty if you try! Last night, we had a meal that literally knocked our taste and digestion into healthy gear.

This is what this about! Diversity. Growing! Alchemizing! Healing! Loving! Deliciousness!   It is all connected.

And, as it is connected, this is a part of the Cooperative POD ..the weekly basket program. It is beyond organic and always alchemized.

We’re in trouble. Our over-reliance on fossil fuels and our taste for foods with a high carbon footprint is causing disruptive climate change. Our throwaway society has flooded the land and seas with plastic pollution. And we face a growing public health crisis triggered by the rise of disease-causing microbes that we cannot kill with antibiotics.

Now for the good news. Living Ground is entering the busy-ness of selling food…but our primary intention to provide a system where people can have ready and affordable access to gut food – that is food grown in microbe rich soils.

Our guts are a real brain. They form part of an intelligent control system which manages our bodies, particularly our appetite and so decides how much and what food we want to eat and how much and where we store fat. Our guts are also home to the bulk of our immune system. Poor guts health is at the source of modern chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and its related heart attacks, dementia etc. A health gut is really important.

But to have a healthy gut means we need the right biology in the first place and we need to feed it the right sort of food. When people find out how gut food is grown the whole idea puts most people off, which is why you can’t buy gut food from the supermarket or in a bottle from the chemist.

Healthy gut biology starts in the guts of creatures that live in the soil.   Read that again!     This microbe biology passes from the guts of the microbes and into the plants where if we eat them soon after they are harvested they will enter out guts and the plants will provide them with food so they will flourish.

We, and all animals, have been doing this for millions of years but the whole idea is totally at odds with our modern antiseptic society so eating gut food will always be for a minority group.   And, humans will diminish!    We can not duplicate Nature as much as science and technology tries.

We know how to grow gut food, you have to have soil which is full of creature of the soil.   To feed the creatures, the soils must be full of organic matter.  We don’t have to be concerned with minerals..there is plenty of that!

And we have to avoid chemicals which will harm the beneficial biology – modern chemicals may not hurt us but they can be a disaster for micro-biology.  And, I will add that Natural insecticides also are harmful.   

And we have to eat the plants shortly after they are harvested before the beneficial biology dies.

All this is a more expensive process than modern chemical industrial farming and supermarket system and to many people quite revolting, which is why we don’t see gut food products on super market shelves.

Good and nourishing food is really about growing food to feed our brain. To do that we have to feed the microbes that already are living in our gut – that’s a pre-biotic.

But we also have to breed new microbes in the soil, which will go into the plants that we will eat and hence from part of our gut brain – that’s a pro-biotic.

To breed these microbes we have to feed and water them – for that we need plants that take the energy from the sun and covert it into microbe food. The plant will exchange this food for the food it needs. So, the microbes go get the plants food.    Now the snag is that there are good bugs which will make us strong and healthy and bad bugs which at best just want to use as a comfy home to breed in – but unfortunately they often get it wrong and kill us.

To breed the good bugs – without the bad bugs taking over – we have to manage the conditions, which means food and water. The good bugs like oxygen and a little water….but not too wet (aerobic) while the bad bugs breed when it is wetter and no oxygen (anaerobic). How is oxygen transported in the human and what does it need to transport oxygen? Iron. But parasites love stored iron. Is this a rabbit hole or what?

Let’s get to the nitty gritty of true health! That means a paradigm shift. It is a 360 on our beliefs about health and microbes. Well, remember, Douglas Adams wrote : “The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.” We probably only know 5% or less of how Nature works..but we do have some good information to change our ways NOW. And, NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT!!!

Will you be apart of this soil revolution?


Mainstream alternative health and television news outlets have really highlighted hormone D (vitamin D) the past few years. As always, the goal is to inject more confusion into people’s minds about natural health.⁣
I have always been concerned about people popping vitamins for health.    I don’t think we know enough about nutrition to be able to isolate and make a pill.    Nature always provides the whole picture unknown to our sciences at this point.   Vitamin D is one I am learning about and it is called the  “sunshine” vitamin for a reason.    The phrase “vitamin D” is smurf language. It means nothing! Vitamin D is a psy-op term to confuse you. Are we talking about D3 (cholecalciferol), 25(OH)D (calcidiol), or 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol (calcitriol)? ⁣

Biology of the sunshine vitamin

“Vitamin D is unique because it can be made in the skin from exposure to sunlight.[3,8–10] Vitamin D exists in two forms. Vitamin D2 is obtained from the UV irradiation of the yeast sterol ergosterol and is found naturally in sun-exposed mushrooms. UVB light from the sun strikes the skin, and humans synthesize vitamin D3, so it is the most “natural” form. Human beings do not make vitamin D2, and most oil-rich fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring contain vitamin D3. Vitamin D (D represents D2, or D3, or both) that is ingested is incorporated into chylomicrons, which are absorbed into the lymphatic system and enter the venous blood. Vitamin D that comes from the skin or diet is biologically inert and requires its first hydroxylation in the liver by the vitamin D-25-hydroxylase (25-OHase) to 25(OH)D.[3,11] However, 25(OH)D requires a further hydroxylation in the kidneys by the 25(OH)D-1-OHase (CYP27B1) to form the biologically active form of vitamin D 1,25(OH)2D.[3,11] 1,25(OH)2D stimulates intestinal calcium absorption.[12] Without vitamin D, only 10–15% of dietary calcium and about 60% of phosphorus are absorbed. Vitamin D sufficiency enhances calcium and phosphorus absorption by 30–40% and 80%, respectively.[3,13]”

We are still in kindergarten understanding Vitamin D language. There are over 14 different kinds of 25Ds and three different pathways that it follows: hydroxylation, lactonization and epimerization. We only ever hear smurf language from influencers and “health experts”. We never hear secosteroid hormone D talked about in these terms.⁣
The most important thing to note is that D3 supplements will raise 25D (the one they measure) which will then raise your 1,25D (the one they rarely measure). Saying that D3 supplements won’t raise your 1,25D is like saying giving bakers more flour to bake with (25D) isn’t going to make more bread (1,25D). Its a completely nonsensical statement. D3 is a SUBSTRATE to make the other molecules and guess what? You don’t choose what your body makes. It makes what it needs based upon your pathogen load. Even before this situation everyone has been dealing with chronic infections.⁣
When 1,25D gets too high you get an increase in metallothionein production which binds up copper 1000x stronger than zinc (Karasawa et al, 1987). Excess 1,25D from supplementing “Vitamin D” decreases energy production in your kidneys and opens them up to iron-induced damage (Zager et al, 1999). 25D and 1,25D in excess both suppress hepcidin and ferritin synthesis which increases iron storage in the cell (Barcchetta et al, 2014).⁣
With Smurf “Vitamin D” language we also never hear of Lumisterol, Tachysterol or Suprasterol, three compounds that you make when ultraviolet light (sunshine) hits the 7 dehydrocholesterol in your skin. Choose UV light over oral or topical D3 supplements.


This article was written by Tim Spector from King’s College London and was originally published by The Conversation.

Everyone loves D, the sunshine vitamin. Doctors, patients and the media have been enamoured with vitamin D supplements for decades. As well as their clear benefit in curing severe vitamin D deficiencies, endless headlines hail their magical ability to reduce a vast range of conditions from dementia to cancer.

Medical specialists such as myself have been promoting supplements to our patients with osteoporosis and other bone problems for decades. Many food products contain artificially added vitamin D with the aim of preventing fractures and falls and improving muscle strength although the vitamin also has been claimed to boost the immune system and reduce ageing. I used to sometimes take vitamin D myself and recommended it to my family to survive sun-starved winters.

However, a new paper on the risks that vitamin D may pose finally has convinced me that I was wrong. My view on vitamin supplements and the multi-billion dollar industry behind them altered radically after I began researching my book, The Diet Myth, in 2013. The industry and its PR is supported by celebrities who reportedly have high-dose vitamins drip fed into their veins, and around 50 percent of Americans and Britons take them regularly. But surprisingly, there is a lack of evidence to support the health benefit claims of virtually all vitamin supplements on the market.

One study based on the large SELECT trial suggested that supplements such as vitamin E and selenium actually increased prostate cancer in some men. And last year massive analyses combining 27 studies on half a million people concluded that taking vitamin and mineral supplements regularly failed to prevent cancer or heart disease. Not only are they a waste of money for the majority of us – but if taken in excessive quantities they can actually hasten an early death, increasing your risk of heart disease and cancer.

Virtually no vitamins or supplements have actually been shown to have any benefit in proper randomised trials in normal people without severe deficiencies. Rare exceptions have been lutein nutrients for macular degeneration, a common cause of blindness – and vitamin D, the golden boy of vitamins.

Since the 1980s, researchers (including myself) have written thousands of papers, associating a lack of our favourite vitamin with over 137 diseases. A 2014 BMJ report, however, found these links mainly to be spurious.

Won’t do you any harm?
Our genetic makeup influences vitamin D levels. We can use this information to tell if naturally low vitamin D levels might actually increase the risk of disease (rather than be a consequence of it). The evidence so far suggests (with the possible exception of multiple sclerosis and some cancers) that low vitamin D levels are either irrelevant or merely a marker of the disease.

Until now we haven’t worried about giving people extra vitamin D because we thought “it might help anyway and of course (as it’s a vitamin) doesn’t do you any harm”. With our increasing knowledge, we should now know better. Recent studies in the last five years have suggested that even calcium supplements as well as being ineffective in preventing fracture can increase the risk of heart disease.

While several studies in normal people failed to find any protective effects from vitamin D, others have been more worrying. One 2015 randomised study of 409 elderly people in Finland suggested that vitamin D failed to offer any benefits compared to placebo or exercise – and that fracture rates were, in fact, slightly higher.

The usual prescribed dose in most countries is 800 to 1,000 units per day (so 24,000-30,000 units per month). However, two randomised trials found that at around 40,000 to 60,000 units per month Vitamin D effectively became a dangerous substance.

One study involving over 2,000 elderly Australians, which was largely ignored at the time, and the one just published found that patients given high doses of vitamin D or those on lower doses that increased vitamin D blood levels within the optimal range (as defined by bone specialists) had a 20-30% increased rate of fractures and falls compared to those on low doses or who failed to reach “optimal blood levels”.

Explaining exactly why vitamin D supplements are often harmful is harder. Some people who don’t take supplements have naturally high blood levels which may be due to them spending large amounts of time outdoors in the sun or eating oily fish regularly – and there is no evidence that this is harmful. Higher than average levels can also be due to genes which on average influence about 50 percent of the differences between people. So our obsession with trying to bring everyone up to a standard normal target blood level is seriously flawed, in a similar way to our one-size-fits-all approach to diet.

Until now we have believed that taking vitamin supplements is “natural” and my patients would often take these while refusing conventional “non-natural” drugs. Our body may not view supplements in the same misguided way. Vitamin D mainly comes from UV sunlight converted slowly in our skin to increase blood levels or is slowly metabolised from our food.

In contrast, taking a large amount of the chemical by mouth or as an injection could cause a very different and unpredictable metabolic reaction. For example, our gut microbes are responsible for producing around a quarter of our vitamins and a third of our blood metabolites and also respond to changes in vitamin levels picked up by receptors in our gut lining. Any artificial addition of large amounts of chemicals will upset some sensitive immune processes.

The news that even my favourite vitamin can be dangerous is a wake-up call. We should be taking our worldwide abuse of these chemicals much more seriously rather than routinely adding them to foods. The billions we waste on these products, assisted by the poorly regulated but rich and powerful vitamin industry should be spent on proper healthcare – and people should be educated to go in the sunshine and eat a diverse range of real food instead. For 99 percent of people, this will provide all the healthy vitamins they will ever need.

Tim Spector is a professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London.

This article was originally published by The Conversation. Read the original article.

How beneficial microbes in the soil, food and gut are interconnected and how agriculture can contribute to human health

The human gut microbiome is a complex system of gazillions of bacteria, fungi, viruses,p rotists and archaea that has an enormous effect on our metabolism, health and well‐being. The same holds true for the plant rhizosphere, the crucial parts below ground: roots are immersed in a soil microbiome that provides plants with important nutrients, protects them from disease and pathogens and helps plants to adapt to environmental changes (Fig 1). And, similar to faecal transplants in humans, soil transplants can have a drastic effect on plant health and growth. Moreover, plant and human microbiomes are linked to each other: since the gut and the soil microbiome share similar bacteria phyla and since microbes from fruits, salads and vegetables join the human gut microbiome, the plant microbiome can affect the gut microbiome and thereby human health (Fig 2). The current and well‐known concept of a healthy diet—one that includes a lot of fibre, minerals and vitamins from fruits and vegetables—should therefore be expanded to consider plant microbes that not only benefit plant health but via food also human health. Vice versa, as much as antibiotics can severely change the human gut microbiome and its function, the use of herbicides, fungicides and pesticides in food production has drastic effects on the plant microbiomes in the soil and on the fruits and vegetables that we eat.


Figure 1. The gut microbiota in humans and the soil and rhizome microbiota in plants exist under similar environmental conditions.



Figure 2. The direct and indirect effects of the plant microbiota on the human gut microbiome.

The gut microbiome

A human body consists of about ten times more bacterial cells than human cells, the majority of which are in the gut. The ratio of microbial to human genes is even more impressive, counting more than 3 million microbial genes compared with 22,000 human genes. The gut microbiome starts to develop before birth and becomes fully established 2–3 years into childhood. The formation of the infant microbiome is not only important for gut function, but also crucial for the development of the systemic and mucosal immune system thereby influencing infant and eventually adult health (Lozupone et al2012).

… since microbes from fruits, salads and vegetables join the human gut microbiome, the plant microbiome can affect the gut microbiome and thereby human health.

The original view of a simple mutualistic interaction between gut cells and microbial cells has given way to a much more complex and dynamic view of a close symbiotic interaction between humans and bacteria. The intestinal epithelial and mucosal immune cells recognize and interact with select bacterial species which contribute to the proper functioning of the human immune system. Microbially generated metabolites not only help the gut to extract nutrients from food, but can also influence immune function (Postler & Ghosh, 2017). In fact, a dysfunctional gut microbiome has been shown to cause or contribute to various gastrointestinal diseases, inflammatory or immune‐mediated diseases, diabetes, obesity, atopic diseases and chronic kidney diseases (Lozupone et al2012). Generally, microbiome richness and diversity are directly associated with human health, but this simple equation needs to be considered with care.

An important step towards our current understanding was the finding that healthy and sick gut microbiomes differ in their microbial composition. Although gut microbiomes contain up to 1,000 different microbial species and show large variations between individuals, 99% of the gut microbiota belongs to only 30–40 species (Lozupone et al2012) that change in positive or negative ways in response to external or environmental factors. Novel sequencing techniques now allow the detection and quantification of virtually all gut microbes, but we still know almost nothing about the role and function of many microbial species, let alone the role of viruses that also populate the gut ecosystem.

Changes of the microbiota in historical times

As humans and human civilization changed over millennia so did the human gut microbiota in response to changes in diet. The gut microbiome of contemporary hunter–gatherer societies for instance shows drastic changes during the year reflecting the changes in food supply. Moreover, major differences can also be observed between the microbiota of female and male members of these societies: the microbiota of women resembles more those of herbivores, while the male members have a more carnivore‐like microbiome. The changes in gut microbiota from earlier to modern civilizations also reflect changes in hygiene, which can still be observed between urban and rural communities. Modern lifestyle with improved hygiene, processed food and the widespread use of medicines, notably antibiotics, seems to have had a major effect on human gut microbiome diversity during the past decades, overall reducing its variety.

Importantly, what people eat has a much stronger influence on the gut microbial composition than genetics: members of the same family living in different locations show larger differences in their microbiomes than genetically unrelated individuals who share the same household and similar lifestyle and nutrition.

Microbes enhance food quality and content

Humans can only synthesize 11 of the 20 essential amino acids themselves; they rely on food intake for the other nine along with all 13 essential vitamins. Most of these amino acids and vitamins are retrieved from meat, eggs, milk products, fruits and vegetables, but a few essential compounds are produced by microbes—which are important producers of essential amino acids and vitamins themselves. For example, cobalamin (Vitamin B12) cannot be produced by either plants or animals; it is synthesized by microbes in the plant microbiotas or in the gut of ruminant animals.

In addition to primary metabolites, amino acids and vitamins, many microbes also produce a large variety of chemicals known as secondary metabolites or natural products. Among the best‐known of these compounds are antibiotics but also immunosuppressants, anticancer and anti‐inflammatory drugs.

Yet, plants are at least as capable as microbes in producing secondary metabolites; overall plants synthesize more than hundred thousand compounds, many of which are used as pharmaceuticals or are important for human health. Flavonoids, a highly diverse class of plant compounds that are present in many fruits, vegetables or nuts, have many biological activities including anti‐inflammatory, anticancer and anti‐viral properties. Omega‐3 (n‐3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are found in nuts and seeds of twenty different plants, including soy bean, rape seed or flax. PUFA reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, blood pressure and inflammatory reactions. Another class of important plant products are conjugated linoleic acid, L‐carnitine, choline or sphingomyelin, which all positively affect the gut microbiome (Postler & Ghosh, 2017). Interestingly, many plants produce only tiny amounts of these secondary metabolites, but beneficial microbes associated with their plant host can boost their production. The interaction of microbes and plants thereby influences food quality, taste and texture (Flandroy et al2018).

Where does our food come from?

Food production has changed tremendously during the past century. Today’s agricultural production systems are mostly large‐scale monocultures of a few elite crop varieties that require fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides to ensure a high yield. Most of these high‐yield breeds have lost important secondary metabolites that protect plants and humans alike. A good example is the domestication of plants of the Brassicacae family, such as cabbage and cauliflower, in which the amount of glucosinolates has been reduced to eliminate their bitter taste. Yet, glucosinolates not only help the plant to resist to pathogens but are also suspected to be a prebiotic anticancer metabolite (Blum et al2019).

Modern lifestyle with improved hygiene, processed food and the widespread use of medicines, […] seems to have had a major effect on human gut microbiome diversity during the past decades

Industrial agriculture requires increasing amounts of fertilizers and pesticides to maintain yield. This seems to be the result and/or the cause of a poor microbial diversity in the soil. Soil erosion and climate change also affect microbial biodiversity and contribute to the loss of large areas of arable land and their microbial populations (Blum et al2019). In this way, crop plants today lack many of their important symbiotic partners to produce or increase the contents of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other metabolites that are beneficial for both plant and human health.

Soil is the ultimate source from which plants recruit beneficial microbes for the rhizosphere and phyllosphere, that is the root and shoot surfaces, but also for the inner plant organs (endosphere), including fruits and seeds. Plant rhizo‐, phyllo‐ and endosphere microbes not only increase nutrient use efficiency and thereby crop yield, they are also involved in enhancing resistance against herbivores, insects, bacterial and fungal pathogens and even nematodes or viral infections (Blum et al2019).

The use of herbicides, excessive mineral fertilization and improper land management have serious effects on microbial communities. A good example is glyphosate that has been used for more than 40 years in agriculture. This chemical inhibits enoylpyruvylshikimate‐5‐phosphate (EPSP) synthase, an enzyme of the shikimate pathway that is responsible for the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids in plants. EPSP synthase is present in all plants but not in humans, which makes glyphosate an ideal herbicide. The application of glyphosate to kill weeds is linked with the use of glyphosate‐resistant crops which has helped considerably to assure high crop yields.

But the use of glyphosate might come with a price. Although the acute toxicity of glyphosate to humans is low, the fact that humans are exposed to it over long terms prompted the WHO to classify glyphosate as a potential carcinogenic in 2015. Importantly, glyphosate is also an antimicrobial, as both bacteria and fungi rely on the shikimate pathway for aromatic amino acid production. A number of reports show negative effects on beneficial soil, rhizosphere and endosphere microbes, including arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and nitrogen‐fixing Rhizobium spp. (Van Bruggen et al2018). Glyphosate also seems to inhibit a number of soil, plant and gut beneficial microbes at much lower concentrations than pathogenic microbes. In terms of the human gut microbiome, such inhibition was observed for the beneficial microbes Bifidobacterium sp. and Enterococcus sp. compared with pathogenic strains of Clostridium sp. and Salmonella sp. (Van Bruggen et al2018). Overall these indirect effects of glyphosate on soil, plant and human microbes might affect human health.

Food quality beyond fibres, minerals and vitamins

The protein‐rich input from increased meat consumption in Western diets also massively affects the gut microbiome, whereby certain microbes suppress beneficial competitors and change our eating behaviour to favour more unhealthy food. Much of the current discussion on maintaining a diverse and healthy gut microbiome is focused on eating a healthy diet, which is defined by a high content of fibre, minerals and vitamins. However, this still leaves out an important aspect of food.

Most of our daily food comes from industrial agriculture and has been exposed to herbicides, fertilizers and a large array of pesticides to obtain high yields. Pesticides are a large class of chemical compounds that include fungicides, bactericides, nematicides, molluscicides, avicides, rodenticides and animal repellents. A large literature is available to show the negative effects of many commonly used pesticides on human health. For example, various carbamates, pyrethroids and neonicotinides have endocrine‐disrupting activity and negative effects on reproduction in animals and humans (Nicolopoulou‐Stamati et al2016). However, many beneficial microbes are also among the targets of pesticides with direct and indirect implications on soil, plant and food safety.

The interaction of microbes and plants thereby influences food quality, taste and texture.

For example, most copper‐based fungicides have a deleterious effect on nitrogen‐fixing bacteria (Meena et al2020). Similarly, long‐term application of organomercurials has negative effects on cellulolytic fungal species. Triarimol and captan decrease the content of Aspergillus fungi that help plants to grow and develop. Carbendazim is highly toxic to Trichoderma harzianum, a potent biocontrol agent against the soil‐borne fungal pathogens FusariumPythium and Rhizoctonia and many fungicides also inhibit hyphal growth and root colonization by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. The insecticides chlorpyrifos, phosphamidon, malathion, fenthion, methyl phosphorothioate, parathion, chlorfluazuron, cypermethrin or phoximin have negative effects on soil and rhizosphere microbiota at field‐recommended concentrations (Meena et al2020).

Many fresh fruit, salads and vegetables are stored and shipped, often over long distances, before they arrive at the supermarket. Long storage and shipping periods, however, are not possible without treating fruit and vegetables with a variety of pesticides and antibiotics for preservation. Not only will some of these chemicals make their way through food into the human gut, but they also kill off the plant microbiota.

Agriculture uses about four times more antibiotics than human medicine. This massive (ab)use of antibiotics in farming, mostly to enhance growth and health of livestock, has greatly contributed to the emergence of resistant bacteria. Not only do antibiotics excreted by animals change microbial function and composition of soil, waterways and other biotopes but also the antibiotic resistance genes can spread to other microbes via horizontal gene transfer (Jechalke et al2014). The consumption of fresh produce from fields fertilized with manure from antibiotics‐treated animals can thus spread resistance genes to the human gut microbiome and further the emergence of multi‐drug‐resistant human pathogens. The widespread application of pesticides and herbicides could similarly increase the risk of new pathogens and diseases against both plants and humans.

… crop plants today lack many of their important symbiotic partners to produce or increase the contents of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other metabolites…

Similarities between root and gut microbiomes

Recent research suggests that the root and gut microbial communities exist under similar conditions (Mendes & Raaijmakers, 2015). Both are open systems characterized by gradients of oxygen, water and pH that create a diversity of different niches. Both systems inherit their microbial members from the environment: food in humans and soil in plants, respectively. Plant and gut systems are populated by a multitude of similar bacterial phyla (Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria) and, similar to human faecal transfer, transplantation of beneficial microbes from disease‐suppressive soils can protect plants against various diseases (Mendes & Raaijmakers, 2015). Research on different mammalian herbivores and carnivores indicates that the gut microbiome recruits some of its members from eating raw plant material. Root and gut microbes synthesize essential amino acids, vitamins and many other secondary metabolites that modulate their host immune system: as such, the plant and gut microbiomes can be considered as meta‐organs with paramount importance for the health of their hosts.

Most of our daily food comes from industrial agriculture and has been exposed to herbicides, fertilizers and a large array of pesticides to obtain high yields.

It is therefore important to better understand the functions and roles of the hundreds of different microbial species in the complex interaction network with their hosts. Of equal importance is the question how to establish and maintain a healthy microbiome. At the same time, the re‐integration of beneficial microbes into agriculture could contribute to providing healthy food in a sustainable manner so as to help reduce the amount of fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides being used (Bender et al2016). Moreover, given the food link, humans would also benefit from eating unprocessed organic food since it supplies beneficial microbes along with secondary metabolites. Research on the integral role of microbiomes on their host’s metabolism and health should therefore not stop at the human gut microbiome but expand to the microbiota of plants and their function in plant growth and development. Given the food link, such an effort would benefit both plants and humans.


The work was supported by the baseline fund BAS/1/1062‐01‐01 to HH from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.


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