Book Review: The Human Superorganism by Rodney Dietert

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This is the first book I read regarding the microbiome. It totally revolutionised how I think about food, as well as had an incredible effect on my attitude towards foods I would never have previously eaten, starting me towards a new direction in my nutritional life. Two years after I began my journey and thought I had learned all I needed to know about the basics of nutrition, my eyes were opened to a whole new world.

The book wonders why we have so many non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) in the modern world, even though our knowledge of the biological human is higher than ever, and our breakthroughs in medicines continue to advance at an alarming rate. 

We have beaten such ravaging infectious diseases which killed millions of people such as cholera, smallpox, influenza, measles and Ebola, whilst NCD’s such as cancers, asthma, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, heart diseases, stroke, depression and many more continue to increase. The latest World Health Organisation figures show NCD’s kill 3 times more people as infectious diseases and are responsible for a staggering 71% of global deaths. Furthermore this NCD epidemic is more prevalent in wealthier western societies, whereas poorer third world countries are affected by such diseases considerably less, often not at all. 

These facts alone are surely enough to get any interested person wondering. Rodney Dietert continues to explain in clarity the latest science on human health, and why he believes there has been such a massive shift in mortality in the 20th century; this theory being the change within our own microbiome. 

The Human Superorganism makes a sweeping, paradigm-shifting argument. It demolishes a fundamental belief that has blinkered all medical thinking until very recently, being: Humans are better off as pure organisms free of foreign microbes.

The microorganisms that we have sought to eliminate through antibacterial external cleansing, and antibiotics internal medicines, have been with us for millenia supporting our ancestors. They comprise a staggering 90% of the cells in and on our bodies. More than a thousand species of them live inside us and on our skin. Yet we have now significantly reduced their power, and in doing so have sparked an epidemic of noncommunicable diseases.

Ultimately, this book is not just about microbes; it is about a different way to view our species. The story told of where the biology comes from, how it works, and the ways in which it affects our life is fascinating, authoritative, and revolutionary. Dietert identifies foods that best serve the human superorganism. Not new fad foods, but ancient foods that have made sense for millennia. He explains protective measures against unsafe chemicals and drugs. He offers an empowering self-care guide and blueprint for a revolution in public health. We are not what we have been taught. Each of us is a superorganism. The best path to a healthy life is through recognizing that profound truth.

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