The Human Superorganism: How the Microbiome Is Revolutionizing the Pursuit of a Healthy Life (Hardcover)
"Eyeopening... Fascinating... may presage a paradigm shift in medicine.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Teeming with information and big ideas... Outstanding.”
—Booklist (starred review)
The origin of asthma, autism, Alzheimer's, allergies, cancer, heart disease, obesity, and even some kinds of depression is now clear. Award-winning researcher on the microbiome, professor Rodney Dietert presents a new paradigm in human biology that has emerged in the midst of the ongoing global epidemic of noncommunicable diseases.
The Human Superorganism makes a sweeping, paradigm-shifting argument. It demolishes two fundamental beliefs that have blinkered all medical thinking until very recently: 1) Humans are better off as pure organisms free of foreign microbes; and 2) the human genome is the key to future medical advances. The microorganisms that we have sought to eliminate have been there for centuries supporting our ancestors. They comprise as much as 90 percent of the cells in and on our bodies—a staggering percentage! More than a thousand species of them live inside us, on our skin, and on our very eyelashes. Yet we have now significantly reduced their power and in doing so have sparked an epidemic of noncommunicable diseases—which now account for 63 percent of all human deaths.
Ultimately, this book is not just about microbes; it is about a different way to view humans. The story that Dietert tells of where the new biology comes from, how it works, and the ways in which it affects your life is fascinating, authoritative, and revolutionary. Dietert identifies foods that best serve you, the 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 the 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.
About the Author
Rodney Dietert is Professor of Immunotoxicology at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He received his PhD in immunogenetics from the University of Texas at Austin. Among his authored and edited academic books are Strategies for Protecting Your Child's Immune System and Immunotoxicity, Immune Dysfunction, and Chronic Disease. Rodney previously directed Cornell's Graduate Field of Immunology, the Program on Breast Cancer and Environmental Risk Factors, and the Institute for Comparative and Environmental Toxicology, and he has served as a Senior Fellow in the Cornell Center for the Environment. Recently, he appeared in the 2014 award-winning documentary Microbirth. In 2015 he received the James G. Wilson Publication Award from the Teratology Society for the best paper of the year on the microbiome.
“Dietert makes the cogent and eye-opening argument that the microbiome—the collection of microbes that lives in our bodies and on our skin—is the arbiter of immune system homeostasis… A book in which the author's fascinating, well-researched ideas regarding holistic health may presage a paradigm shift in medicine.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Teeming with information and big ideas about our tiny co-partner species, this is an outstanding introduction to the universe of little lives that dwell within us.”
—Booklist (starred review)
“Dietert makes a fascinating case for an exciting, emerging field that offers a new way of thinking about the human body and health.”
"Packed with new insights, The Human Superorganism sets out a fascinating perspective on the trillions of microbes that co-habitate with us, and delivers must-have information for how we can harness their power to prevent disease and flourish alongside them. Truly brilliant!"
—Robynne Chutkan, MD, FASGE, Founder of The Digestive Center for Women, author of The Bloat Cure, The Microbiome Solution, and Gutbliss
“Lucid and beautifully referenced, Rodney Dietert has provided an authoritative new road-map of the human body, complete with its inner workings.”
—Martin J. Blaser, MD, Professor of Microbiology, Director, Human Microbiome Program New York University Langone Medical Center, author of Missing Microbes
“Rodney Dietert, a widely recognized researcher in immunology, developmental biology, and environmental health, writes at this new frontier from the inside, as someone who has made some of the important contributions to this young field. These are exciting times in science: when old ideas and assumptions are overturned, including our very concepts of who we are. As the early findings of microbiome research indicate, all of what we think makes us us is in fact a continuing conversation between our human cells and the billions of microbes on the surfaces of our bodies. This is a highly readable book, but also the work of a scientist who has not compromised rigor for the sake of popularity.”
—Ellen K Silbergeld, PhD, Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health
“Tremendously enjoyable... The Human Superorganism really lays out the case for why the new research on the microbiome is a complete game-changer for how we view human health, and it offers this information in a comprehensive, readable and thought-provoking manner. It informs how I approach my patients in my own practice.”
—Susan S. Blum, MD, MPH, Founder and Director, Blum Center for Health, author of The Immune System Recovery Plan
"In his startling and thought-provoking book, The Human Superorganism, Rodney Dietert shatters the conventional view of the human body by confronting the reality that most of the cells in our body are not our own. The book explains how an imbalance in the microbiotic ecosystem of our body has caused a sharp increase in allergies and other non-communicable diseases in modern life, and it offers practical advice for fortifying and cohabiting productively with our single-celled partners."
—R. Douglas Fields, author of Why We Snap and The Other Brain
“In The Human Superorganism, Rodney Dietert challenges us to see ourselves anew, as stewards of our own personal ecosystems. Rejecting ‘the new normal’ of diabetes, obesity, cancer and depression, we are empowered to learn how to feed our microbiome and begin healing ourselves from the inside out. The ultimate reward is a healthy internal environment that craves and is satisfied by what is truly good for us. In a world in which babies are born pre-polluted with endocrine disruptors and other harmful chemicals, it may be our best hope of survival.”
—Carol Kwiatkowski, Executive Director, The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, Professor, University of Colorado Boulder, Dept. of Integrative Physiology
"A must read if you are interested in disease, health and medicine. Dr. Dietert has the unique ability to describe a new paradigm that is an easy read and understood at all levels of training or education."
—Gary R. Burleson, PhD, President and CEO of Burleson Research Technologies, Inc.
"Superscientist Dietert wants us to look at humans as superorganisms... How we can radically readjust public health protocols—and our own."
—Library Journal, Prepub Alert
“Noted immunologist, Professor Rodney Dietert, has produced a fascinating and eminently readable book about the 'new biology' that recognizes that we are not just 'us', but we are a chimera that is 90% microbial. He is a master storyteller.”
—Peter J. Davies, International Professor of Plant Biology, Cornell University
"Rodney Dietert provides a clear and accessible introduction to the world of the human microbiome and its influence on human health. His use of anecdotes and examples complete the story, bringing the clinical evidence into the context of every day life."
—Jack A. Gilbert, Professor, Department of Surgery, University of Chicago, Group Leader for Microbial Ecology, Argonne National Laboratory