Amazonian Hunter-Gatherers Isolated from Western Medicine Have the Most Diverse Microbiome Ever Recorded*
With the current ethnic – cleansing of indigenous peoples, this is what humanity stands to lose…
The Yanomami people, who hail from the Amazon, live a semi-nomadic, hunter-gatherer lifestyle in the jungle. They have been living like this for thousands of years. According to iflscience, the tribe was first contacted in the 1960s, but it wasn’t until 2008 an unmapped village was spotted in Southern Venezuela. A team of researchers returned to the village within the year to collect mouth swabs, faeces and forearm skin samples from 34 villagers ranging in ages from four to 50. Now, the microbial DNA of the villagers has been analyzed and the findings are absolutely astonishing.
A new study published in Science Advances has found that this isolated tribe of hunter-gatherers posses the most diverse microbiome ever documented in humans. The microbiome of industrialized people is 40% less diverse than the Yanomami. Even minimal exposure to Western medicines greatly decreased the diversity of the bacteria— some of which is known to be beneficial, like preventing kidney stones from forming.
Despite never being exposed to commercial drugs, some of the Yanomami’s microbes carry genes that resist antibiotics. According to iflscience, it is suggested that these genes have come from an early exchange between human microbes and soil bacteria, which produce natural antibiotics.
The findings of the study, produced by a team led by Maria Dominguez-Bello, an associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Centre and put out by EurekAlert, show that Westernization may be responsible for the loss of important bacterial diversity. The results suggest that decreased bacterial diversity, industrialized diets and modern antibiotics are linked to immunological and metabolic diseases such as obesity, asthma, allergies and diabetes. According to EurekAlert, the diversity found in the faeces and skin of the Yanomami is inversely proportional to the exposure of antibiotics and processed foods.
The majority of human microbiome studies have focused on Western populations. Investigating microbiomes that have been unexposed to processed diets and antibitoics, like the study of the Yanomami, may give us important information about the human microbiome and how it is changing in response to modern culture.