10% Human. How Your Body’s Microbes Hold The Key To Health And Happiness
Alanna Collen is a science writer and biologist. This work opens very dramatically and surrealistically with the author crashing through the jungle wearing a necklace of bats.
I’ve known some Goths in my time, but this one claims to be acting in the name of science. Well, it turns out Alanna has contracted a tropical infection from ticks encountered upon this reckless mission.
After many treatments she is cured, but her experience is the direct inspiration for this book: a plea for the indigenous flora and fauna that graze the human body. She describes how in the wake of the human genome project, there's a project to also map the DNA of microbes found in stool to gain a complete picture of the body’s functions.
10% Human goes on to summarise the history of disease, immunisation and asepsis, culminating in the current range of antibiotics which cure many of the old ills but leave a host of 21st century conditions, such as: obesity, IBS, autism, allergies and mental disorders, and all in some way connected to our endangered microbes (or so the author would have us believe).
Collen presents some impressive statistics to demonstrate the increase in diabetes and autoimmune conditions.
Her argument is convincing, and though her book hovers awkwardly between science and self help, it boils down to a scientific plea for the natural life: less antibiotics, more breastfeeding, and less Caeserian section leading to increased exposure to microbes that may increase future immunity to 21st century ailments.
Though when Collen starts suggesting shit transplants, she gains and loses a little credibility in my eyes.
The former, because here is a peccadillo even Irvine Welsh didn’t mention, which I guess goes to prove that science still does the pornography best. But really? with someone else's you-know-what?
I consider myself a Libertine in theory at least, and not squeamish about exchanging body fluids with consenting adults, but such deviances can surely only lead to an unhealthy interest in the diet of others. This seems to relegate Collen down alongside the emperor’s worst healthnuts; that actress who drank her own piss and Princess Di’s alleged colonic laundering excesses.
The author brings us full circle back to her own symptoms and that is very 21st century in itself, I guess. What it doesn’t say too much is check your mind and diet first.
This book does follow it’s own specific case history and could use a much more holistic approach and agenda. The subject matter is worthy, but as I said before it is not comprehensive enough for a science book and not specific enough to appeal to the health nut. We are presented with all modern society’s ills whereas the health nut wants answers to symptoms and the science reader relevant knowledge.
There is an overall lack of coherence and the lack of an interesting premise to attract any but the most specialist of readers.
This would seem to be an unhappy amalgamation of the author’s profession and her own case history, and mostly it just peddles its own anxiety.
Title 10% Human. How Your Body’s Microbes Hold The Key To Health And Happiness
Release date 27 April (UK)
Price Unavailable (Ebook) / £15.33 (A$29.99) (Hardback)