A new year message from within our gut

  • Renuka Narayanan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 28, 2014 14:11 IST

Science tells us that the human gut is full of extremely tiny microorganisms, collectively called a biome, that contribute to a healthy existence. Diet is supposed to play a part in their active contribution to our good health. In particular the colon is home to the most dense and diverse species of bacteria in the human body and these bacteria need to keep getting what they're used to getting to keep us ticking. To put it very simply, as I understand it, you are what you're used to eating. This is affirmed by the number of times we hear people say, "Unless I eat rice (or rotis or meat or pasta) at least once a day, I feel I haven't eaten".

It may not even be you but your biome that determines your state of physical well-being. If you carry within you a friendly set of bugs, you feel well and happy. But a person born in a milk-drinking culture can be lactose-intolerant. A person born to a wheat-eating culture can be allergic to wheat. Science proves that life is as random as that, which disproves that one diet is more sanctified than another.

It would be medieval on our part to scoff at science, which is truth in action. As science studies creation in increasing detail, its findings do more and more to disprove the justification for religious differences.

Science repeatedly shows us that existence is too long, subtle and complex a process for us to fully comprehend. Can we really confidently state that God created the world in so many days? Do the 'gods' we imagine and the extraordinary hereafters we construct really exist? Have not such thoughts long appeared to many reasonable people as poetic notions with no basis in reality? No reporter, scientist or field-worker has ever been to the hereafter to prove God's existence. Our pet fancies are therefore simply not a reason to get after a fellow being because he or she prefers another poet.

Science, with which we abuse the earth and each other, repeatedly shows us that life is still an unsolved mystery. Therefore it's absurd on our part to expect 'rewards' in a culturally imagined 'hereafter' for imposing our beliefs on a person of another gender, another social group, another religion or another culture. The dread laws that we are taught to think of as 'divinely ordained' were thought up by our predecessors on the planet as they huddled in terror while the thunder roared and the lightning flashed. However much we have longed to know and still long to know, we really do not know how existence happened. Not the most vivid and compelling poet really knows. That is the truth and we should not be afraid of it.

Moreover the food we eat so sanctimoniously is actually eaten by tiny bugs inside us that are primarily responsible for keeping us alive. Your bugs are used to one kind of food while my bugs are used to another kind of food, that's all. The more different we think we all are, the more similar we are proved to be.

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