Microbiota, obesity and rheumatism

This medical topic should be part of the dedicated blog, but I include it here as an example of horizontal complexity, before the article on the two dimensions of complexity. The horizontal is an interactive cycle between elements capable of communication, while vertical complexity is an integration of interactive systems, one forming the elements of the following. Let’s look at an exciting interactive cycle, that of food, involving taste, food choice, microbiota, digestive second brain.

The microbiota

Which organ mainly decides the mode of feeding? The brain, with its almighty consciousness? No, it is the microbiota, the bacterial society that inhabits our digestive tract. The microbiota is an important part of our identity and the most independent of our genes. At birth, we inherit an initial assembly of microbes from the passage through the maternal tract and the first people who manipulate us. This bacterial “nation” will evolve over the years by immigration and competition between the “ethnic groups” installed. Famines, antibiotics and other upheavals can occur, sorting out survivors. In adults, the microbiota has gained a lot of resilience, is less likely to be jostled. But it remains highly dependent on a regular and preferential diet: one that allows its bacterial factions to stay together.

A organ in its own right

The microbiota should not be seen as a collection of bacteria but as a whole maintaining a certain microbial homeostasis, like any other body organ. The microbiota is an organ. Some bacterial species promote the presence of others. The Microbiotic Whole is a symbiosis as much as a competition. It is maintained in two ways, by bacterial exchanges, and by signals sent to the digestive system. Two types of signals: levels of absorbed metabolites with their blood concentration, and bacterial messages specially dedicated to the digestive tract.

The chemical communication microbiota / intestine is translated by the local nervous system, true second brain rich in 100 million neurons. These signals only awaken consciousness when something goes wrong. They constantly order it in an invisible way: they form the taste for certain foods at the expense of others. The microbiota thus decides most of our food preferences. We can modulate them in consciousness with the help of gastronomic art, yet even the greatest of masters will not make us easily swallow something we do not taste.

Consciousness, a puppet perched on a shopping cart

Thus programmed the consciousness goes hunting for its food supplies, most often today armed with a shopping cart. The hands mechanically grab the victuals on the shelves. Consciousness pretends to think about quality and price. But the content of the shopping cart in nutrients and calories is hardly changed. What the microbiota wants, it will have. The order will be coarsely in accordance with its desire, as is the coarse taste. It is not a computer terminal that allows you to tap your command on an Amazon-consciousness…

Big advantage over Amazon, the order arrives unpacked! And even already coated with digestive juices. No need for teeth, for the complete enzyme toolkit. The intestine is a Club Med whose buffet provides a wide range of ready-made nutrients. Bacteria bulge. The cycle is complete.


Let us look at the disturbances. Obesity comes from a microbiota that generously provides the gut with most of the processed nutrients, as well from a feedback system, satiety, which saturates little. Let’s understand that obesity comes as much or more from inherited microbiota than from genetics. Dad, mom, my nanny, you gave me a super-efficient microbiota with its forklifts to fill the cells with abundant and superfluous fat!

Where can consciousness intervene in this cycle? Most of the time it has very little knowledge of what is going on. “But I hardly eat anything!” cried all the obese. Any sincere nutritional investigation reveals the opposite. If the consciousness of the obese persists in denial, it is enough to film it without its knowledge. Its blindness becomes manifest. It looks like a zombie during shopping, meals and forays into the fridge. How to awaken the obese?

Where to intervene consciously?

The most important thing is that her consciousness accepts her own helplessness. “Aware” of its own limitations, it is also aware of the few effective tools it has left. It is not the “constant” surveillance that can work, since the consciousness is in zombie mode during deviations. Where to intervene in this case?

At the time of supply. Brief, critical period, when consciousness can focus its rare and dear attention. If supermarkets emptied of their hordes of zombies and were replaced by an ordering desk controlled by a nutritionist, obesity would disappear within a few years. The variety and flavor of the meals would not be altered, rather improved even. The microbiota of obese people would be forced to evolve. The taste of these people readjusts in a few months. Their excessive appetite is reduced and they begin to enjoy their food again. The body is no longer flooded with all these unnecessary nutrients.

Fighting the high cost of living can worsen obesity

Note in passing that the fight against the high cost of living is a great promotion of obesity. If prices drop in supermarkets, shopping carts fill up. If prices are high, people are encouraged to exchange and produce their own food in worker gardens. People who work full-time in exchange for a modest salary no longer have the opportunity to garden. They are dependent on cheap supermarkets and lose all control over their food. Is it surprising, under these conditions, that obesity affects the lowest social strata? It is certainly not so much an education issue.

In the islands, people were neither educated nor obese. Fishing and culture were their daily lives. Overweight has arrived with the Westerners, their low-paid jobs and supermarkets. Extensive education that limits the side effects has not spread similarly. Islanders have lost education adapted to their environment and gained obesity…

Inflammatory rheumatism

And rheumatism, what do they do in this article? They reinforce the idea that “nations”, in order to preserve their identity, should not face too much immigration. Bacterial and cellular nations communicate constantly but must remain independent. When viruses enter the body and integrate into it, it is as vectors of information, not competitors of cells. Bacteria are real competitors, which is why their intrusions give rise to such dangerous infections. Our cells are ex-bacteria that have organized themselves around common laws, inscribed in each of them: the genetic code. Each applies all or part of the laws but conforms to the universals, such as not multiplying without receiving the order. The cancer cell is a mutant that becomes wild bacteria again: it begins to ignore these laws.

Rheumatism is initiated by the chronic intrusion of bacterial fragments into the body. Illegal immigration. It takes place mainly in the intestine, favored by certain genes that make the cells of the digestive wall less joined. The looser spaces between them encourage the passage of undesirable immigrants. Another site is the gum: chewing and brushing the teeth spreads and makes the tooth-gum interface bleed, facilitating intrusions. The lung is another potential place; chronic lung disease is common in rheumatism.

Has the action level been crossed?

These incessant stimuli gradually sensitize the immune system, which normally only excites itself in the event of a massive invasion. An isolated germ has little future in the body, which is why if you prick yourself with a clean needle, without disinfecting the skin, you are unlikely to trigger an infection. Some germs pass inside, skin saprophytes not very aggressive, not having the ability to multiply. They are used to sharing resources, not appropriating them.

The same is not true for viruses, programmed to proliferate through the cellular machinery, and for aggressive bacterial colonies, which use all available resources. This type of invasion triggers the immune alarm, a rapid amplification of the body’s defense. All immune cells exchange signals for general mobilization. It is a great battle and a phase of great destruction, which affects the organism itself. You don’t defend on your soil without paying the price. To limit the breakage, immunity is quickly inhibited, as soon as the alarm ceases.

The police are attacking good citizens!

Due to this inhibition, chronic intrusion of bacterial fragments does not immediately trigger an immune response. No alarm has yet been sounded. Some antibodies begin to appear, at low levels. They do not cause damage. Not yet. Because they have a flaw. Since bacterial fragments resemble certain constituents of the organism itself, the antibodies will attack the right citizens: the cells of the articular membrane and those of other organs. Yet they have their passports, follow the common rules. But this passport is no longer valid. It is copied into bacterial fragments. There comes a time when the immune response is racing. Now the hunt for intruders is open. The unfortunate joints are on the front line. They suffer without being able to make their protests heard.

Control as early as possible

The rheumatist does not know where her pain comes from. There is microbiota, gene, gingivitis, encounters with walking germs, eating, awakening or falling asleep immunity —pregnancy, the consequences of severe infection. A salmigondis of causes whose complexity should be understood to treat rheumatism at its origin. But we do not know how to make the immune system forget a target, it loses its memory only very slowly. The treatment of rheumatism therefore consists in limiting the excitation of immunity, and this as early as possible.

What about the obese rheumatizer?

The link between rheumatism and obesity is not only through the microbiota. It is direct, because fatty tissue is a regulator of immune inflammation. It is not responsible for joint aggression, but when autoimmunity has been aroused, rheumatism has been triggered, fatty tissue hinders the effect of the treatments undertaken. It alleviates them, forcing them to be strengthened, and so do their side effects. An obese person is not rheumatic because of her overweight, but she is much less sensitive to anti-rheumatic treatments.

The role of consciousness, in the end? Model horizontal complexity cycles. Identify where it can intervene. By realizing beforehand that it attends its life more than it controls it. It is a small seat to build in height. Consciousness is not depedstalized. On the contrary, it went up to the balcony, with the elite.


1 thought on “Microbiota, obesity and rheumatism”

  1. Lovely article, JeanPierre! Do I intuit a low undertone of Panpsychism herein? It feels like that. It was inferred, in another piece that I skimmed and may read in detail later. The core question was: are rocks conscious? Now, if one thinks about Edelman’s distinction, some years ago, it comes to something akin to his notion of primary consciousness. Dr. Edelman did not, to my recollection, attribute any sort of conscious faculty to rocks. However, he did not rule it out in primitive life forms. If, and only if, the influence of microbiota can be considered as intentional, we can infer it is fundamentally conscious in that narrow sense. I am more in agreement with what Godfrey-Smith has investigated in octopus, squid and other sea life. Those creatures do appear to exhibit intentionality. Microbiota are perhaps, as Freud might have said, unconscious? Thank you.


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