You can’t bring nature from supermarket


This is the irony of our society. We strive for moving back to roots but the way we select is nothing but same alternative in same system! Marketers are smart. They know very well that consumers are now fed up with their fake products loaded with chemicals.

But they must sell so that targets are achieved. So what to do? Use what consumers strive for!

आयुर्वेद! वेद ! प्राकृतिक ! Organic! Natural!!

Don’t fool yourself. Mother nature can’t come in packets from mall. If you really wish to bring change, go back to roots. Don’t be so lazy to rely on market to feed you. Find your food and utilities by self. Promote and invest time and money in local home based businesses whom you can trust and are nature friendly.



New study: Parents put nature in the shopping basket

“It actually happens. Children bite into their seats when they’ve been sitting for a while. That’s why I read whatever I can online. It’s where I’m most likely to discover whether or not a particular child seat is stuffed with chemicals,” says Anne, one of the mothers interviewed in a recent study on the consumer behaviour of parents conducted at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Food and Resource Economics.

The researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 17 parents about considerations governing consumer choice in a world bursting with products, experts, social media and self-declared health gurus. One consideration stood out – naturalness, understood in the sense of organic foods or chemical additive free products.

“Parents need to make good decisions amidst this complexity of possibilities and information. They use naturalness as a way to mitigate the complexity and protect their children from that which they deem to be dangerous, with danger being defined as ‘unnatural’,” explains the study’s main author, sociologist and Postdoc Sidse Schoubye Andersen.

Mother nature is not dangerous
Today, many people value their children being exposed to mud and dirt, and in getting dirty. According to Schoubye Andersen, nature used to be seen as something to protect ourselves from – for the sake of hygiene, for example. Today, parents see exposure to ‘natural’ filth and grime as important, contrary to having their child come into contact with chemical substances in various products.

“In this naturalness logic, products can do more harm than good, because they risk creating an imbalance in what is natural. Parents consider their toddlers to be perfect pieces of nature. By exposing them to large quantities of unnatural products, they run the risk of interfering negatively with nature,” says the researcher.

While researchers allowed parents the option of who would be interviewed, mom or dad, the majority of respondents were mothers. Of the fathers interviewed, they often admitted to being influenced by their partners’ attitudes towards what was in the child’s best interest.

“When fathers described household decision making, they often referred to leaning towards the mother’s views. So even though there are fathers who participate actively in decisions about what is in their children’s best interests, it is abundantly clear that the mother has the final say,” says Sidse Schoubye Andersen.



Reckless parenting: Early exposure to mobile and TV, Sleep disruption, Long term zombiness



TV in kids’ room may show your elite status to rest. For me, it is showcasing example of mindless careless parenting by arrogant neo-rich.

With their brains, sleep patterns, and eyes still developing, children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to the sleep-disrupting effects of screen time.

Children Uniquely Vulnerable to Sleep Disruption From Screens, New Paper Suggests

Their eyes are not fully developed! Even if it is innocent cartoon, it is against the development cycle!

Biological, neurological and environmental factors all play a role:

Because their eyes are not fully developed, children are more sensitive than adults to the impact of light on the internal body clock, the paper notes.

“Light is our brain clock’s primary timekeeper,” LeBourgeois says, explaining that when light hits the retina in the eye in the evening hours it suppresses the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, delaying sleepiness and pushing back the timing of the body clock. “We know younger individuals have larger pupils, and their lenses are more transparent, so their exposure and sensitivity to that light is even greater than in older individuals.”

“Through the young eyes of a child, exposure to a bright blue screen in the hours before bedtime is the perfect storm for both sleep and circadian disruption,” LeBourgeois says.

The “psychological stimulation” of digital media – whether it’s exposure to violent media or texting with friends – can also sabotage sleep by boosting cognitive arousal, the authors note.

LeBourgeois offers these recommendations for parents:

Limit children’s media use in the hour before bedtime.
Turn off all electronic media devices, including yours, at bedtime, and charge them in a central location outside bedrooms.
Remove all electronic media from your child or teen’s bedroom, including TVs, video games, computers, tablets, and cell phones.

KathanDiary : पुत्रगोष्ठी : Deepawali and Laziness Quotient


“Pappa, Diwali is also known by other name. I don’t recall it. What is it known by?”


“What is the meaning of it?”

आवली means पंक्ति. Series of lamp that we lit. दीपावली : दीप का अर्थ ज्योति प्रकाश आैर आवली का अर्थ माला है. इसका पूर्ण अर्थ प्रकाश पूंजों की माला होता है.”

“Then why do people by candles or Chinese lights? You once said that this LEDs are not good for life. Why people lit them on good festival days?”

” 🙂 It depends upon how alive or dead you are. There are different ways of celebration. Ideal, Lazy or Anti-National lazy? सात्विक, राजसिक & तामसिक.

Ideal is when you prepare and lit oil lamps.
Lazy is when you buy wax candles in form of lamps.
Anti-National and lazy is when you prefer Chinese LED lamp.

Festival driven benefits are availed when we celebrate them rooted spirit of the land!”

“We will celebrate the best way!!”

“Definately beta! We will! Glad that you cleared your doubts! Look how your mother had painted lamps already! And you know what? We are also bringing lamps made up of cow-dung!”

“પપ્પા, દિવાળી બીજા કયા નામથી ઓળખાય છે?”
“એનો અર્થ શું થાય?”
“દીપ-આવલી. આવલી એટલે હરોળ. દીવડાઓની હરોળ! એક સળંગ હરોળમાં દીપ પ્રગટાવવાનો ઉત્સવ.”
“તો પછી આ બજારમાં મીણબત્તી અને LED કેમ વેચાય છે?”
“ખરીદવા વાળા છે એટલે?”
“પણ તમે તો કહો છો કે LED તો આપણા સ્વાસ્થ્ય માટે સારા નહિ તો ઉત્સવમાં ખરાબ પસંદ? લોકો આવું કેમ ખરીદે?”
“બેટા, લોકોની પસંદ એમની પ્રકૃતિ પ્રમાણે હોય. મોટા ભાગના આળસુ તામસિક જીવન જીવી રહ્યા છે. ઉત્સવનો સાચો અર્થ ઉત્સાહ સાથે ઉજવણી. આ ઉત્સાહ નથી રહ્યો એટલે બતાવવા ખાતર દેખાડો.”
“પણ આપણે એવું નહિ કરીએ પપ્પા!”
“ચોક્કસ બેટા! જો તારી મમ્મીએ કેવા સરસ દીવડા બનાવ્યા છે? અને તને ખબર છે? આપણે આ વખતે, ગોમય દીવા લાવવાના છે!”


Revive traditions. Sit with grand-parents, learn traditions and try to celebrate in a way that your active involvement can strengthen your perceptions ज्योतिर्मय.

Wax and LED don’t fit into it. 🙂

शुभ दीपावली !

Mother’s hardwired care instinct : Reason for Resident Schooling
Original Image:

My friends and I firmly believe that early childhood parenting and formal education are two key points for success or failure of the society.

Study Shows How Moms’ Brains Are Hard-Wired to Gather Young

Few days back, we had discussion : Why kids must be sent to resident school, or as popularly known in Hindu homes i.e . Gurukul?

Why kid must change living as per Guru’s kul after certain age?

Reason is : Hardwired maternal (as well as paternal) instinct. And when parents can’t realize this biological flaw, they act as Dhritrashtra-Gandhari, who were also obsessed by their kids. Result is known to everyone.

As a firm believer of Santana dharma, I don’t really need to find answers for it but for fellow travelers, I try to find answers in their own language i.e. modern science.

A mother’s “basic instinct” to grab her wandering offspring and return them to the nest depends on a specific set of brain cell signals, a new study in mice finds.


Biological mother and even foster mothers (early childhood exposure to mother like figures i.e.  grand mothers, aunts, neighbors, teachers) – they all have hardwired brain, a brain to cater highest possible emotions and care. This care is very much needed in early childhood. However, if it continues for longer time of childhood, it become sweet poison for kid and may turn kid into fragile baby, only grown up in body but not in mind. That 25 years old kid will still ask mother for any crucial life decision. Nothing wrong in it on mother’s side. She must guide kid for entire life. However, it is folly on son/daughter’s life as they can’t drive their life by own. To me, it is not impediment in ultimate life goal i.e. स्वविकास/आत्मसाक्षात्कार/self-realization.

This research says that, when you become mother, your brain is hardwired for care and protecting of kids. Mother will do everything for kid’s protection.

The point I wish to bring to the table is: Overprotection or even normal protection in homely environment, will limit child’s true potential. Let him or her explore his/her true potential and that is possible when they are away after certain age (The Upanayana Sanskar age – varies from age 5 to 11)


*Do check video in link below*



A mother’s “basic instinct” to grab her wandering offspring and return them to the nest depends on a specific set of brain cell signals, a new study in mice finds.

“Our study shows precisely how a maternal instinct is generated in the mammalian brain,” says study senior investigator Dayu Lin, PhD, an assistant professor at the Neuroscience Institute at NYU Langone Health.

Dr. Lin says that because evolution has conserved biochemistry in most mammals, the findings may help to explain human maternal behaviors, such as breastfeeding and rocking a newborn, and could suggest new ways to help new mothers who have trouble nursing or bonding with their infants.

“Moreover, we believe that the findings overturn the longstanding idea that the dopamine system produces a ‘rush’ after a good behavior, and argue instead that dopamine may drive actions before any satisfaction is felt,” says Dr. Lin.

KathanDiary : पुत्रगोष्ठी : Learning by observations : पगड़ी


This is my conversation with 5 years old son. His learning diary. Old posts can be read here : or on Facebook tag


Although he is maintaining his Sankalpa for 3 months and did not watch TV, we thought to watch it together for 20 mins to taste the poison a bit again after staying away from it by self-will . We decided to watch Malgudi Days. The famous first series: Swami and his friends.

My goal was to expose him to village schools, friendships etc.

After watching, as expected, there was a question:

“Pappa, a question!”

“Yes, Beta.”

“All kids in this show had cap on head. I don’t see kids wearing it to school anymore. Sometimes kids wear it when they go to playground but that is it. Why? Are those kids show in TV are different from us?”

“First of all, wonderful observation beta! You picking right things from the media! What those kids were wearing is known as पघडी/साफा. It was integral part of our clothes few decades back. ”

“Why not now? Was it not useful?”

“Indeed, it was useful and very much needed for regions like us (tropical). It served several purposes. But then we picked bad things for TV and media, reason why we don’t watch TV at home. It was taught by TV that it is inferior to wear it. So people stopped wearing it.”

“Bad, we should start wearing it. What are the benefits?”

“We must wear it under the exposure of extreme heat, cold and wind. There are rules for it. I am studying it, will explain you in detail.”

“Yes. Let us wear it for travelling on bike, or when walking/playing under the sun.”


My job is now to explain him value of protecting grey and white matter by wearing cap at right occasions.

Meaning of Turban in Indian Culture


You want your kid become super hero?Do you live in community?



All parents want their children to become superhero. At least better than them. Sometimes, they want their children to pursue their own out of reach dreams. In short, parents spend maximum efforts behind own children. And majority of them fail.

That’s where we misunderstand parenting. Parenting is community duty. We should parent, not only our child, but also parent other children in society. Child needs multiple mentors for overall development. You and your family are not sufficient. Mentors are not school teachers. Mother Nature first rank of mentor. Your best friends, maternal uncle/aunt, paternal uncle/aunt, all relative grands and you two – they represent second line of mentors. His/her friends are third. Teachers next.

Think about it. Experiment.

पुत्रगोष्ठी – Making of Ganesa and Essential Life Lessons


One thing I always followed in my relation with my son : Never enforce anything. Nothing. Let there be demonstration, slow and steady exposure to idea and concept. Give enough time and space for digestion.

He is 5+ now. More observations, varied questions. For last 5 years, he did not demand to establish Ganesa Vigrah at home. He enjoyed visiting different pandals and observe shapes and sizes.

This year too. Day 1 went into visiting relatives and friends sthapana. But in evening, there was question : Why not at our home?

Day2 : We started with our first attempt to give shape to our Ganesa. What did we use? We collected clay from the shore of Maa Narmada few months back.

What is planned for day 3 : Give appropriate colors so that a divide vigraha emerge from it. And yes, don’t fall in modern trap of calling it Idol or Statue! This is Vigraha(विग्रह). मूर्तिसे देवता स्थापन! तत्त्व स्थापन! जल स्थापन, पृथ्वी तत्त्वसे!

Day 4  to Day 10 : We will recite and memorize गणपति अथर्वशीर्ष. We will observe and note down different forms and their characteristics. And this will continue for next 5 years.

You may bring most beautiful vigrah at home but don’t miss to prepare one at home by self. Your involvement. Family’s involvement. Your vigrah is your prana representation. Reflection of your muladhar.
This (गणेश चतुर्थी to अनंत चतुर्दशी) is the open window of the year where mother nature naturally allow you get rid of excessive toxins built during varsha ritu due to मन्दाग्नि(low digestive fire with uncontrolled food habits).
1) Food during this time will help. Modak and Kheer, pomegranate
2) Devotion to Shri Ganesa will help. गणपति अथर्वशीर्ष
3) Spending time with clay will definitely help as it is पृथ्वी तत्त्व’s trait to absorb toxins from body. Plus, vigraha making yields concentration and attentive mind, result is observed in body cleansing. Stabilize Vata prakop.
Your imperfections in vigraha making will inspire you to correct the foundation. Foundation is in learning different art forms.
There is interesting conversation between King Vajra and Sage Markendya in Vishnudharmottara Purana about it.
King Vajra wants to learn art of Idol making.
He seeks guidance from Sage Markendya.
And Sage prescribes him to learn following art in sequence to become master of Idol creator.
Vocal music (Reciting Vedas) => Instrumental Music => Natya Shashtra => Chitra Kala (Painting in 2D) => Becoming sculptor
In short, it is important to realize cosmos, to express it so potently so that seekers can connect with God by concentrating on divine play captured in Idol.


पुत्रगोष्ठी – He taught me devotion, simplified


Generally, I don’t really need to open refrigerator as there is no such need 🙂 But for a change, I opened it Today evening. And what do I find?

I asked my wife with astonishment, :”What is this?”

“Ask your son! This is his act.”

I summoned my son.

“Kathan, please come here. What is this?”

“Oh..this! 🙂 Pappa, this is temple.”



“Why in fridge?”

“You once said that God’s Murti and picture are alive. If they are alive, they deserve the same treatment or better than us. If we use fan or AC, they too need it, right? That is why I installed my God, Shri Krushn here. He will sleep here and during day, he will be in temple.”

Speechless. People often talk about being like a child. And they often capture only one aspect of childhood. Being childish…acting mindlessly. But if there is something important to learn from kids, it is their devotion and faith.Highest level of sincerity and devotion are two primary aspects of हनुमान अवस्था. Kids are always in Hanuman state. It is this factor of childhood, being more प्राणवान like Hanuman and remain devoted and faithful to center of attraction.

Bhakti is essential for achievement of Karma(Yajna, selfless devotion for Nation and Culture) mentioned in Gita. Not so long ago, this land had witnessed many examples proving this point. In fact, they are the only examples where native culture could survive against foreign oppression.

Children must learn this factor of life. Unfortunately, arrogant parents educated in leftist liberal education, mar this innocence of kids and make them ruthless zombies from childhood. If not Istha Murti, your kid will succumb to cartoon. It is inevitable.

What is Bhakti anyway?

Human = Cognition + Feeling + Will
Human = Knowledge + Devotion + Action
Human = ज्ञान+ उपासना + कर्म

Devotion gives powerful hint about Bhakti. Devotion towards God. Devotion towards self. Devotion towards all living and non-living beings. Devotion for own karma. Devotion to Society. Devotion to dharma-sustenance. Devotion to Nation. For example, we call राष्ट्र-भक्ति which means Devotion towards Nation (and there is well known राष्ट्र-सूक्त in Rigveda).

Read more :

Bhakti : Unfaltering devotion

पुत्रगोष्ठी – The Foam Mystery of the wild in the backyard

This is my conversation with 5 years old son. His learning diary. Old posts can be read here : or on Facebook tag


During last Sunday’s tree plantation drive, we found several flowers. They were new to Kathan. Since last Monday, we focused on target-oriented morning sessions. Our goal was to explore weeds’ flowers in the wild. Everyday, we come home with new set of flowers.

One day, we observed something interesting.

“Pappa! Look at here! This plant is vomiting!”

“What? Plant and vomit? Let me see. Oh there is some foam on this plant!”

“Just like how soap foam is created during bath!? Can I take it on hand?”

“No..don’t touch for now. Let us observe it further!”

“Why this foam here? Did someone bath here?”

“lol! Good question! Let us find out. Let’s do one thing. Let’s come here again tomorrow. We will observe for some more time.”


—–Second day——

“Pappa! Look at there! Same foam but on different plant!”

“Oh yes! That means, it is not just one plant! Then what is it? Interesting!”

“Is someone throwing foam here it due to rain?”

“No dear. Look closely. It is on specific branches of plant. And on specific plants. Not all plants. Humans or rain can’t achieve such perfection. Must be some bird or animal or insect.”

“You find out from office!”


—- Same day evening——

“Kathan!! It is indeed insect! It is nest for this insect. Look at the video!”

“Wow!! Nest?”

“Yes! These insects are common on plants who can imbibe more and more nitrogen from soil. And they are because soil as more nitrogen due to chemical farming in adjacent famrs. This insect sap food from plant while baby-insects grow!”

“woow! But pappa…one more question! What is this chemical word? What all things can be considered as chemical!”

“Very good question! Let’s discuss is some other time. Add it in your list of queries!”


“પપ્પા, અહી આવો! જુઓ આ શું છે! આ છોડ ઉલટી કરે છે!”

“શું? છોડ અને ઉલટી? લાવ જોવા દે તો! ઓહો…આ છોડ પર ફીણ? આ ઉલટી નથી..કંઇક ફીણ જેવું છે.”

“સાબુનું ફીણ થાય છે એવું? હાથમાં લઉં?”

“હા એવું જ પણ હાથમાં ના લઈશ.”

“પણ આવું કેમ છે? અહી કોઈ નાહવા બેઠું હશે?”

“હા હા :D! સરસ પ્રશ્ન!મારે પણ જાણવું પડશે. એક કામ કરીએ..કાલે ફરી આવી ને જોઇશ..થોડો વધારે સમય લઈને નિરીક્ષણ કરીશું!”


—- બીજા દિવસે——–

“પપ્પા! જુઓ જુઓ! આ એકજ છોડ પર નથી..અલગ અલગ છોડ પર છે!”

“અરે હા! એટલે એ આ માત્ર એક છોડ પુરતું નથી! તો શું હોઈ શકે?”

“કોઈ માણસે સાબુનું ફીણ ફેંક્યું હોય?કે પછી વરસાદ પડવાથી થયું હોય?”

“હોઈ શકે! પણ ધ્યાનથી જો બેટા…એ માત્ર છોડની અમુક ડાળી પર જ છે. જો વરસાદકે બીજા કોઈએ માણસે કર્યું હોય તો આટલું ચીવટતા થી ન થઇ શકે! મને લાગે છે…કોઈ પક્ષી કે જીવડું હોઈ શકે.”

“પપ્પા…કાલે શોધી લાવજો!”

—- એ દિવસે સાંજે———

“કથન! પેલા ફીણનો જવાબ મળી ગયો!”

“ઓહો!! બોલો બોલો જલ્દી!!”

“એક જીવડું છે! એનો એ માળો છે!”


“હા એમાંથી એના બચ્ચા નીકળશે! આ જીવડું એવાજ છોડ પર થાયકે જ્યાં જમીનમાં કેમિકલ ખેતીના કારણે Nitrogen વધારે હોય! જો આ વિડીઓ!”

“ઓહો! કેટલા સરસ છે…પણ પપ્પા..નવો પ્રશ્ન! આ કેમિકલ શું છે!”

“સુંદર! એના પર ફરી ક્યારેક! 🙂 ”

Age 10 and below is the age to cultivate observation skills. Insects and weeds are unknown areas for modern schooling curriculum. Hardly any focus on it. But if we don’t expose it to kids, they will never realize system aspect of nature. Role of everyone into mother nature. Nothing is useless – is difficult to grasp developed urban mind.

And foam is not only possible in soap or the soap-toy! Such foam in wild was wealth earned for this little mind. This is possible when we could spend more time with kids in nature. Time well spent in observations and projects.

Our journey to explore wild flowers is continuing. Will share more on it once the project is over.

Some old articles on Weeds and the lesson I wish to teach my son:

Mother nature provides common sense sensors and we run to lab for soil testing with soil health card 😉

Technological arrogance vs Sensible observations

Later is win-win situation.

Weeds were never useless. Those who consider them useless are actually useless.”

Monsoon and Weeds

Crops can do their own weed control

Embracing Weeds: Holistic Agriculture


Parent? Go back to jungle or send kids to forest-school (गुरुकुल)


GUT microbes is a buzz-word in medical fraternity of western world. It is welcome sign as they are unlearning useless DNA dogma and mindless antibiotic treatment practices.

In Bharat(India), child development is intervened in वर्णाश्रम धर्म. Everyone was following it 100 years back. And it was very reason why we were never worried about health by minor details like GUT microbes.

वर्ण & आश्रम were potent tools to take care and nurture पंचकोशीय बंधारण. As soon as you hit the age of Upanayan, you are sent to forest for learning. It is very essential.

In many countries, they are shifting schools to forest. Forest-school is growing concept in finland, japan and US. (Google it to know  more).

Our गुरुकुल शिक्षण happened in forest. Forest and cows were prerequisites. Both act as प्राणवर्धक & प्राण-संवर्धन.

When GUT-microbes of growing kids are not taken care (unfortunately, me and many in my generations missed it. Present generation of urban kids are missing it. Present generation of rural kids also miss it due to urban influence but they are still in good position compare to urban kids), adult life is miserable, feeble and weak.

Why Worry about Children’s GUT health?

The role of gut microbiota in early life and its impact on gut health and subsequent diseases remain unclear. There is a lack of research and awareness in this area, especially in the Asia‐Pacific region, including Malaysia. This paper reports the position of a Malaysian Working Group on some key issues surrounding gut microbiota in early life and its role in gut health and diseases, as well as experts’ stand on probiotics and prebiotics. The group reached a consensus that certain factors, including elective caesarean; premature deliveries; complementary feeding; use of antibiotics, prebiotics and/or probiotics; and exposure to the external environmental, have an impact on gut microbiota in early life. However, as evidence is lacking, especially from the Asia‐Pacific region, further studies are needed to understand how gut microbiota in early life affects subsequent diseases, including allergy, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity and infantile colic. Lastly, although beneficial in acute diarrhoeal disease and probably allergic eczema, probiotics (and/or prebiotics) should be used cautiously in other gut dysbiotic conditions until more data are available.

Check the GUT microbe-perspective.

Answer hints for

  1. Why forest based gurukul for age 7 to 16
  2. Why cows in school?
  3. Why even naturalized urban school garden is not enough?


Switching from an Urban to Hunter-Gatherer Lifestyle may Increase Diversity in Children’s Gut Microbes

An international team of researchers has shown that immersing city dwellers in the traditional lifestyle and diet of a rainforest village for two weeks increases the diversity of the visiting children’s—but not the adults’—gut microbiota. In a small pilot study published this week in mSphere®, an open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, the team shows that the immersion visit did little to shift the adults’ skin, oral, nasal and fecal microbiota.

“We wanted to look at the question of whether microbiota change during a drastic, radical change of diet and lifestyle,” says Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, a microbial ecologist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey who led the study with microbiologist Monica Contreras from the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research. “In this village, there was no market economy, no bodega, no Coca-Cola—so this represented a radical shift in diet from a high percentage of processed foods in urban places to zero processed foods and an all-natural diet.”

Dominguez-Bello, along with researchers from New York University and two Venezuelan institutes, took advantage of a visit planned by five, city-dwelling adult visitors—and two of their children—to live among an indigenous Yekwana village in the Bolivar State of Venezuela for 16 days. The village has a hunter-gatherer-gardener lifestyle and diet.

Typical fare includes cassava (a starchy, high-fiber tuber), corn, various wild fruits, including plantains, pineapples, and berries, fish, and small amounts of game meat and eggs gathered from wild birds. Visitors had two meals a day that consisted of soup with a bit of fish or meat. The rest of their diet consisted of “all-day snacking on cassava with fruit” says Dominguez-Bello. The visitors also bathed in the river without soap and followed the natural circadian rhythms of their hosts.

“The diet contains very little animal protein and it’s very, very high in fiber and very low in fat,” compared to Western diets, says Dominguez-Bello.

While it is known that people with traditional diets have higher gut microbiota diversity compared to those with urban diets, it was unknown if urban dwellers could shift the diversity of their microbiota higher simply by following a traditional lifestyle and diet. In the gut, a high diversity of microbes is considered a sign of good health.

Traditional people eat diets rich in unprocessed plant material, which are much more chemically complex compared to processed foods. The smorgasbord of chemicals acts as fuel for a higher variety of microbes. Traditional people use less antimicrobial medicines and compounds in daily life, which might also contribute to their increased gut microbe diversity.

During the 16-day visit, the researchers collected samples from the visitors’ skin, mouth, nose, and from a fecal swab. Age-matched samples were also collected from villagers. The samples were sequenced and compared.

Surprisingly, none of the adult visitors’ microbiota shifted significantly during the visit, while the two children’s gut microbiota trended toward a higher number of total microbial species present. Although these results were not statistically significant and in just two subjects, the researchers saw this as interesting nonetheless, given the children’s ages of 4 and 7.

Up to now, it was thought that children’s gut microbiota become stable and more ‘adult-like’ by the time they reach 3 years of age. “This indicates that the window for maturing your microbiome may not be 3 years of age, but longer,” says Dominguez-Bello. Her team plans to do a larger study with 12 children participating in an “immersion summer camp” to a traditional village.

Because the children’s gut microbiota exhibited more plasticity, these results raise an interesting possibility that urban children who eat a more traditional, high-fiber, low-fat and low-processed diet early in life might cultivate a more diverse set of gut microbes. Conversely, adults may have a limited response due to their low microbiome plasticity.

Dominguez-Bello was not terribly surprised that the adults’ gut and other microbiota changed so little: “If you take traditional people and bring them to New York, give them antibiotics and McDonald’s to eat everyday, it’s not surprising that they lose diversity,” she says. “But if, as an urban dweller, you’ve already lost that gut microbe diversity and you move to a high-diversity diet, maybe you cannot ‘bloom’ diversity because you simply don’t have those microbes present anymore.”

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