In this week’s podcast, Patrick Holden speaks to Dr Zach Bush – the internationally renowned, multi-disciplinary physician, founder of Farmers’ Footprint. Together, they discuss the intricate intersections between the microbiome, nutrition and chronic diseases, highlighting the devastating impact of chemical herbicides and pesticides on both soil and human health.
Zach begins by outlining the context of his research, to illustrate how he first came to untangle some of these complex correlations. He explains that the early stages of his medical career in the 1990s coincided with an unprecedented rise in chronic diseases across the US. At the same time Zach witnessed a major breakthrough in genetics which challenged the old scientific orthodoxy which considered the human cell as the epicentre of our health and immunity. The new knowledge suggested that, instead, we should be focusing on the microbiome, the communities of bacteria, viruses and fungi that populate our cells. Furthermore, the study of epigenetics reveals that the microbiome is highly susceptible to its external environment, which would in turn suggest that factors such as nutrition and agriculture have a major impact on human health.
This steers the conversation towards what Zach regards as one of the most serious threats to the health of the microbiome: chemical agriculture. As he argues, the herbicides and pesticides that are now ubiquitous across our food and ecosystems are also interfering with the bacteria within our gut. He believes that a rise in the use of toxic chemicals in our farming systems can be directly linked to the prevalence of chronic diseases, such as cancer, in the US and further afield.
Patrick and Zach then discuss what they see as the urgent need for a radical shift away from chemical agriculture, towards regenerative farming practices – for the health of the soil, water and people, all of which are intimately linked. They agreed that, given the chance, our ecosystems would recover surprisingly quickly, but that the challenge lay with shifting long-standing human perspectives, with communication, education, and spreading awareness around these issues, more important than ever.
For more on the subject of glyphosate, read a recent article written by Patrick Holden.
Zach Bush MD is a physician specializing in internal medicine, endocrinology and hospice care. He is an internationally recognized educator and thought leader on the microbiome as it relates to health, disease, and food systems. Dr Zach founded *Seraphic Group and the non-profit Farmer’s Footprint to develop root-cause solutions for human and ecological health. His passion for education reaches across many disciplines, including topics such as the role of soil and water ecosystems in human genomics, immunity, and gut/brain health. His education has highlighted the need for a radical departure from chemical farming and pharmacy, and his ongoing efforts are providing a path for consumers, farmers, and mega-industries to work together for a healthy future for people and planet. His work in for-profit and nonprofit arenas is creating avenues for collaborative action for all stakeholders in our global community for a regenerative future of health for the planet and our children.