• Lizzie Shutt

How Your Health Is Connected To The Remarkable Soil Microbes

Updated: Mar 2, 2020

Microbes here, Microbes there, Microbes are everywhere… and that’s normal!

My fascination with microbes grew from my interest in mushrooms. Mushroom mycelium act as the telephone wires that keep the whole forest in the loop of what’s going on, in addition they are so nutritious and medicinal, so that makes me a huge fungal fangirl! (more mushie stuff in later blog) Microbes are very similar in a sense that they are an essential part of healthy functioning and communication for an ecosystem. They facilitate much of the nutrient processing that goes on in the soil and in you!

I was formally introduced to soil microbes during a summer program in Costa Rica, where a farmer brewed his own compost tea by collecting the mountain microorganisms that lived in the outskirt forest surrounding his apple orchard. He explained the amazing benefits his trees received from the tea and I can attest those were some of the best apples I’ve ever tasted! The compost tea is similar to eating fermented foods, both inoculate the soil or gut with beneficial microbes. My understanding of the microbial world developed very holistically because as I would learn one thing about human microbes, then I would find similar data for the plant world. I love how as I learn more and more about both plants and humans I find they are more similar than they are different! #WeAreAllConnected

Tip: Eat veggies with some dirt, don't scrub it off if they're straight from your garden or from a trusted organic grower!

I now view soil as Mother Earth’s gut, it’s the basis of life. Every teaspoon contains billions of microorganisms from tiny bacteria to long earthworms and each contribute towards creating healthy soil. Larger organisms like worms chew bigger material up for the microorganisms to further digest, in addition their burrowing and wiggling through the soil creates passages for air and water to fill making it easier for plant roots to absorb. Bacteria and fungi break down dead material and turn it into usable forms of nutrients for plants thus continuing the cycle. These tiny life forms do much more too: they improve phosphorus uptake, fix nitrogen, degrade toxins, sequester heavy metals, suppress pathogens, and help plants tolerate abiotic stresses.

After reading all the critical functions microbes perform you can see they’re important for plant health and overall the ecosystem’s health. By assessing the microbial populations and activity in the soil, it will be a good indicator into the health of your soil. This becomes an important topic as populations increase and food security remains a major issue. Agricultural soils will have different microbes depending on how the farm is operated and what the crop rotation, or lack of is like. Sound familiar? The human microbiome is just as sensitive to the food we eat, our emotions, environment, and past life experiences.

A healthy soil microbiome develops by rotating crops or incorporating multiple into the same field because different crops require various levels of nutrients. Therefore if the same crop is planted year after year it will continually deplete the major resources it needs. Without adequate time between plantings the soil microbes cannot repopulate and regenerate the organic matter back to previous levels. *Human translation: “eat a variety of foods” so you support the growth of a diverse microbiome.* Without time for regeneration the farmed soil will require more fertilizer, fungicides, pesticides, and overall maintenance because when the crops are newly planted again the soil isn’t feeling 100%... I can relate. When I’m feeling sick or tired and then a new project or deadline comes into my life it’s the last thing I want to focus my energy on. My body wants to heal itself first before tackling any external projects otherwise I may get sicker and not give 100% to the task.

To bring it all together, the microbiome of our soils functions just like the one in your intestines, skin, mouth, and researchers are continually finding out more about the intricate relationship microbes have with this planet. I would love for you to take a microbiome journey with me this month! I will be putting out a blog each week covering you and your billions of microbes. Can I count you in?

“Live Dirty, Eat Clean & Green”,

Lizzie Shutt


P.S. Email me any questions or topics you would like to know more about lizzieshutt3@gmail.com

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