Thursday, January 28, 2010

Eating microbes for health

Eating microbes in soil might be good for us -- and necessary for our health and wellbeing (thanks to Seth’s blog for posting about this).

This study from 2007 (press release here) showed that mice fed the bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae found in soil, had similar effects as antidepressant drugs. The study started after cancer patients given M. vaccae reported improvements in their quality of life, leaving scientists wondering if these bacteria might alter serotonin levels. The lead author of the study said:
“These studies help us understand how the body communicates with the brain and why a healthy immune system is important for maintaining mental health. They also leave us wondering if we shouldn’t all be spending more time playing in the dirt.
It makes sense that our bodies are meant to ingest some dirt. It may be that we clean our food a little too well. It's a widely held belief that vegans can’t get enough vitamin B12, but if we simply left some dirt on our fruits and vegetables we'd get plenty of B12 from the soil.


  1. as a deficient B12 vegan- I concer. Its just hard living in a world where you have no idea where your food comes from. If we could all just grow all of our own food in this dream world

  2. What if the dirt contains (without our knowledge) carninogens or other toxics, or rat poop?

  3. Hi Diana,

    Thanks for your comment! Yes, it is very difficult when we don't know where are food comes from. And as Chris points out, unless we grow our own food we can't really know what toxins we might be ingesting along with those nutrients.