Puffed Up Immune System
Digital Painting, 38" x 18"
Bacteria train the immune system. When the bacteria are imbalanced, the immune system isn't properly calibrated and can become overly active. Immune systems in this condition are like puffer fish who can't retract their spines and are constantly on alert for danger. When the immune system is like this, it can't tell friend from foe and can begin to attack the body's cells. This can lead to autoimmune and other chronic health conditions. Most people consider bacteria to be the cause of health problems, not the solution; however, some bacteria provide us with the chemical weaponry necessary to fight off other, malicious bacteria.
Bacteria in the microbiome train the immune system. Without exposure to these bacteria as children, our microbiomes become less diverse and our immune systems less able to recognize which bacteria are dangerous and which are essential for our health. A person's own cells can get caught in the crossfire between hyperactive white blood cells and bacteria, as I have depicted here in this detail painting to the left. An anxious immune system is a danger to its host.
Digital Painting, 16" x 9"
People with Depression, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or Fibromyalgia have been shown to have altered levels of bacteria in their microbiomes. Whether the health condition causes the imbalance or the imbalance causes the health condition is still being researched, but an unhealthy microbiome and chronic illness are related.