A world of inflammation: the need for ecological solutions that co-benefit people, place and planet

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4 Citations (Scopus)


The ecology of the early environment – including microbial diversity, nutrition, nature, social interactions and the totality of exposures in the wider “exposome” – have life-long implications for all aspects of health and resilience. In particular, the emergence of “microbiome science” provides new evidence for vital relationships between biodiversity and health at every level. New perspectives of ecological interdependence connect personal and planetary health; the human health crisis cannot be separated from the social, political and economic “ecosystems” otherwise driving dysbiosis (from its etymological root, “life in distress”) at every level. Adverse changes in macroscale ecology – of food systems, lifestyle behaviours, socioeconomic disadvantage and environmental degradation – all impact the microbial systems sitting at the foundations of all ecosystems. In particular, changes in the function and composition of the human-associated microbiome have been implicated in the mounting global burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), exacerbating inflammation and metabolic dysregulation through multiple pathways across the lifespan. This “dysbiotic drift” (adverse shifts in ecology at all scales) underscores the need for ecological approaches aimed at restoring symbiosis, balance and mutualism. While there is promise with supplement-based strategies (e.g. probiotics, prebiotics), it is essential to focus on upstream factors implicated in dysbiosis, including the health of wider environments, lifestyle, nature relatedness, and the social policies and practices which can facilitate or inhibit dysbiotic drift. This also calls for ambitious integrative approaches which not only define these interconnections, but also capitalize on them to create novel, collaborative and mutualistic solutions to our vast interdependent global challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-e149
JournalVeterinary Dermatology
Issue number6
Early online date20 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


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