Elias Hakalehto, PhD, Adj.Prof.
CEO, Finnoflag Oy
Vice President, International Society of Environmental Indicators
First published in 4.12.2020
In this world, things move on from place to place, from time to time. This makes up successions, and so is the health of ours a succession of events. It starts from one point and continues its progress toward another one. As any stream, it can either grow in volume or get shrunken, but in any case, it moves on. As human beings, we are intended to stay healthy, but the health status of ours flows like a river. This metaphoric approach can lead to a remarkable opening in the public health sector.
During our individual life-span, the health of an adult human is based on his or her well- or ill-being in the previous times, in childhood, during infancy, in the mother´s womb. And even before that, the health of any individual is influenced or also determined by the genes obtained from our parents. According to the present understanding, these genes are inherited from generation to generation in different combinations. But there can also be added new factors to our lines of heritage. The chains of health can be influenced in that sense from outside by the environment.
Visiting India in 2017, the undersigned had the opportunity to see one of the 22 handling sites for dead animals that had been collected from the street and villages in various part of this vast country. Treating of the carcasses was largely manual work, which was carried out under the southern sun by the workers. As the visitors of the plant, we wore our protective masks, but those workers did not have any filtering or any other protection against the risks of the inhaled air. We asked about the security of the personnel carrying out their job in the wide field where the carcasses had been piled. They were using big knives for separating the soft body parts to be transported into the biogas unit. The answer to our question was: "Only the third generation in line can have an occupation in here. Just the men, whose fathers and grandfathers had been working there, could survive in these conditions."
Scientifically we may deduce or hypothesize that those workers in the rendering field in India, had obtained some epigenetic factors from the earlier generations, which protected their body systems in the otherwise dangerous conditions of the treatment unit. Or is the human immunological system developing its defensive capabilities as a sequence of events or subtle changes from generation to generation? Or can we suppose that the individual alimentary or other microbiomes can develop within time under stressing outside conditions, and this microbiological constitution is then transferred from individual to individual in the subjected families (to the continuous environmental stress)? Thus protecting the members of the families against otherwise fatal microbiological conditions.
These chains of health start from some point (of observation), and they are distributed over distances of time. We obtain our food or water as a result of an agricultural and industrial chain. In different production conditions, these chains vary a lot. In light of the example above, it is also our own reaction that matters; the inherited or learnt-in way of our body system to meet the environment and its challenges. In Helsinki, Finland, the late professor Ilkka Hanski with Professor Tari Haahtela and other colleagues, developed the "Hygiene hypothesis". It was established on the basis of the finding that environmental biodiversity in the form of microbiota, for example, and allegic reactions, were negatively correlated. Prof. Haahtela introduced this theory in the memorial lecture of his friend Ilkka Hanski. This excellent presentation took place in the International Conference of the Environmental Indicators (ICEI 2017) in Helsinki, chaired by the undersigned. As a consequence of this line of thinking, it was also found out that the children in the country-side were less prone to allergies than the children in the cities. And in the later studies, it was also observed that the children who met with domestic animals in the agrarian setting were healthier than the children in the more urban environments. This remarkable health effect pursued with the sophistication of the immune system under appropriate stimuli was possible to get produced also by having the kids in touch with healthy forest soil.
Consequently, the chains of health can be, not only the hygienic cold-chains in the food production, but also the chains of events onsetting of a contact of an individual with a balanced microbiome, inside or outside our body system. Extensive work around these issues have been conducted by Professor Yehuda Shoenfeld with his research group in the Zabludowicz Center for Autoimmune Diseases in the Sheba Medical Center, in Israel. According to their studies the encountering of human individuals with helminths and the eggs of these paracites in rural Africa, protects the people against autoimmune diseases. These diseases in general include many tedious illnesses such as type I diabetes, multiple scerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, systemic lupus erythematosis and many others which belong to the "Mosaic of Autoimmunity" as designated by Prof. Shoenfeld. In fact, many of these adverse health effects are realted to imbalanced microbiome or some infalammatory reactions related to the microbes.
If we think deeper and deeper about our hygienic health principles, we often come to the conclusion that absolute deprival of all micro-organisms is not always the healthiest strategy. Instead, it is often important for us to get exposured with a right kind of pressure to train and elaborate our immunity. On the other hand, it is possible that continuous exposure to a monotonous microflora may initiate autoimmune rections. In some earlier publications of the undersigned, there have been attempts to comprehend the microbial side of the interaction between man and his microbes. In practise we should train our microbiome and elaborate it in order to build up protection against viral, bacterial and other infections or epidemics.
Every microbial community seems to seek for a balance between its members, as well as with its surroundings. Consequently, the micro-organisms are the basic influencers in all ecosystems, not least in our intestinal ecosystems. We have called their joint activities as "Bacteriological Intestinal Balance" (BIB) in the healthy digestive tract. This balance is initiated in the duodenum by the dualistic balance between two major metabolic groups of so called coliformic bacteria. Duodenum is the part of the small bowel right after the stomach. There the food is sprayed through the pyloric sphincter from the acidic gastric areas into the duodenal tract where the pancreatic fluids and the BIB rise and maintain the pH around six. There the food mixture is transforming into chyme, from which the nutrients are then takan up during its passage through the intestines.
Some members of the alimentary microbiome find their niches on the epithelial membranes of the digestive tract, but most of the microbial load is multiplied while passing on through the canal of the gut. Its ultimate fate is to get defecated out of the body but on the way there the microbes participate in the nutrient processing and absorption, as well as in the building up of the immune reactions and adjusting the water and gas balances in the digestive tract and in the entire body system. The stools constitute roughly 1/3 of the microbial biomass, 1/3 of the undigested food, and 1/3 of the various slag materials of the human and microbial metabolism. In the upper intestines, the microbiota contributes to the food uptake, but they also process the metabolic wastes and gases and circulate them. The bile substances are also secreted via papilla vateri into the duodenum, but reabsorbed back to use in the distal ileum. Thus the bile acids also select the microflora which is most active in the small bowel. The enterohepatic circulation is most important for the individual digestive and general health. Likewise is the succession of events in the gut described in the books of the undersigned, such as the "Alimentary Microbiome - a PMEU Approach" edited by the undersigned and published by Nova Science Publishers Inc., N.Y. in 2012.
The concept of "alimentary microbiome" were less used those days. Introduced roughly ten years earlier by Professor Joshua Lederberg, the concept very nicely described the important role of intestinal microbial ecosytems in the digestive tract and elsewhere in our body. The US National Institute of Health had established the Human Microbiome Project in 2007, but it was completed in 2016 only, after which these aspects of the human health were truly and broadly recognized. As Professor Philippe J. Sansonetti, the director of the Institut Pasteur Laboratory Pathogénie Microbienne Moléculaire, nicely expressed in his lecture to 100 top Finnish phycisians in Helsinki in June 2018 saying something like: " A couple of years ago I could not have believed that microbiology would come to the core of medicine to stay there in the way as it has happened".
Already in 1927 microbiologist Arthur Isaac Kendall, professor and dean at the Northwestern Univesrity in Illinois, USA, with his coworkers stated that the intestines formed a succession or "column" of microbes. He also suggested among the very first ones that mental disorders, such as "neurosis" could be caused by the imbalances of the microbiota. And these could be repaired in many cases by e.g. giving lactic acid bacteria as probiotic supplements. Now it is only a few years ago that these ideas have been widely accepted and they have aroused the interest they would have deserved.
Thinking of the distribution of microbes in our digestive system, or in the animal farms or industries, we need to be open-minded in making up the hygienic decisions. We should apply also the wisdom of older generations than our own. In the great prairies of the American plains, the bisons were wandering as huge herds in the past. The Native Americans could maintain the balance with these large animals, which could grow up to the weight of circa one metric ton of skin, bones, flesh, hide, fur and inner organs including the digestive tract. There the rumen content´s microbial biomass weighed about 100 kilos. Their milk provided nutrition for the buffalo calves, and they liberate gases, secrete urine, and produce feces into the ecosystem. Their rumen microbes convert the dry grass of the prairies into raw materials for the metabolism, that is catabolism and anabolism, which produces building blocks for all the different organs of the animals and the necessary energy for running the cycles. Metabolice organic wastes are then returned to the soil which again and again produces the vegetation for the use of the ruminant bisons, with the help of microbes. Any imbalance in this system is played out by the solar energy which fills in the gaps of entropy.
All this beautiful constitution of ecosystemic balance was maintained on the foundation of balance of the alimentary microbiome of the bison. The "herd immunity" was a functionable concept in this natural ecosystem, and we need more of its kind of systems to get perservered in the world of ours. - It has been indicated that several animal species could be susceptible to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including the tiger. This extraordinarily fair and fascinating animal was at some time prognosed to get extincted by 2020, which fortunately did not happen. But this threatening condition of the rainforests, and mangrove forests and other ecosystems may coerce the ecosystems to loose their top predator. This could take place as a part of the same global ecocatastroph which also has opened ways for emerging pandemics like the COVID-19. Indeed, it is the versatility of these and all other ecosystems which could protect mankind against the emerging microbial agents. Symbolically and also coincidentally and most concretely, we are under the same threats as the tigers are in this world.
On the basis of the considerations above, as human beings we are positioned into many chains of health. These successions of positive events in our environment have always worked for us. We need the animals and plants and microbes to maintain our health. That is why the microbial cultures can support the agriculture and other production of foods and industrial goods which then maintains our culture, the civilizations. In June 2020 our consortium submitted an application to the European Union for establishing modular field factories for the production of chicken egg yolk antibodies (IgY) against SARS-CoV-2. Finnolfag Oy was the lead partner in this application which was participated also by LED Future Oy and several other high-tech companies, as well as top universities and research institutes in four countries. Although the decision made by the EU was not a supportive one, we have plans for another consortium. The idea of blocking the viral epidemics by prophylactic´IgY antibodies was presented by the undersigned in 1996. These bird egg antibodies have been characterized already more than a century ago. If interested to know more, please email to the undersigned, to the address: email@example.com.
As like the ecological cycles of the grasslands (see above) are a chain of health connecting the ruminant microbiome to the soil microbiome, and to the various creatures in that ecosystem, we also have viruses and bacteria in everywhere, in every ecosystem. These tiny creatures are the dynamos of the networks of living things on this planet. They keep the natural cycles of subtances going on. They also maintain the balances between and within the organisms. Microbes produce our food, whether it is of plant or animal origin, it is embedded into the functionality of microbial ecosystems. Those systems also control the diseases. If mankind would live in balance with the microbes and their molecular functions, we were much healthier everyone. The chicken egg yolk antibodies technology is not competing with vaccinations but complementing them. The gallant acts of support to this technology using one of the oldest means of producing nutritives and health substances, the chicken egg, would empower and mobilize novel resources for the fight against many diseases. In the generational wisdom of our forefathers in all times, the human survival was always interlinked with soil and its power to sustain us. And the soil is containing the biological organisms, which maintain it. So, it is the chain of ecosystems within us and out of us, which is our ticket for improved health.