Missing Microbes: A review

Here is the short version of this review:  This is an important book. I highly recommend it.

Here is the somewhat longer review:

"The crux of the dilemma is simple: What is normal?" pg.120

I was first introduced to Dr Blaser and his work through a course I took online about the Microbiome. He is best known for his work on H. Pylori and its impact on health. His earlier work helped to identify H. Pylori's relationship to gastric cancer, but as his work continued he started to find that H. Pylori also seemed to have a protective effect on esophageal cancer, asthma and allergies. Dr Blaser started to approach H. Pylori in a more nuanced way; perhaps there was a benefit to the microbe as well as a cost. When it comes to microbes, do we know what 'normal' is? He has taken this idea and turned to the wider Microbiome as a whole.

Some of the questions pondered in the book include: Could some or all of our modern health issues be related to our "missing microbes"? Are we over prescribing antibiotics and at too young of an age? How does our shift in birthing practices effect the Microbiome? Does our antibiotic use effect our potential for obesity? Are we getting more antibiotics than we even realize?

I am not going to lie, this book made me very concerned. Be prepared to face some of your own history in this book. I was exposed to countless courses of antibiotics as a very young child and reading this book certainly made me concerned about how that may have impacted my current and future health; and even the future health of any children I may have. But this book isn't meant to say that we are all screwed. It provides a logical, well reasoned argument for one reason why our health as a whole is declining and how we might be able to regain it.

I can't do anything about the decisions that my parents made when I was a child. Like most parents they believed that what they were doing was the absolute best thing, there was no known cost to antibiotics, only benefit; but I can do something about how I will try to maintain my health moving forward and I am more wholly informed about the negative impact of antibiotics as well as the good, for both myself and any kids I have.

This book is a smart, careful, insightful look into the deep complexity of being human, hosting a microbial community and how our short-sighted actions may now be producing long-term effects. Read this book. Read it now.

One more thing, Dr. Blaser was recently a guest on the Underground Wellness podcast. It is a great introduction if you haven't read the book and a nice complement if you have. Check it out here.