The epidemic of obesity is giving rise to new frontiers of scientific research. Hugh Ross summarizes some of these innovative efforts in his article, “Taking Care of Gut Bacteria Helps Human Health.” The preliminary result of this initial study suggests that the long-term effects of the American diet, rich in high-calorie foods, may end up destroying the diversity of microbes that live in our digestive tracts. This, in turn, may be a major factor contributing to obesity.
In keeping with the tradition of providing new reasons to believe in the God of the Bible, Dr. Ross suggests that emerging human gut bacteria research may also reveal a new area of supernatural design and how our microbiome must be fine-tuned for optimal health.
The Bible certainly has many things to say about God’s plan for the health of His people. In particular, He provided many specific instructions to the ancient Israelites related to food and its preparation. Although these food laws were repealed as part of the New Covenant, some scholars have suggested that they offer instructions with medical value (see for example, None of These Diseases).
Investigation into the realm of the human microbiome may now be confirming the accuracy of these ancient instructions on a deeper level. The daily diet of most Americans is high in processed grains, sugar, beef, and prepackaged foods. However, a diet closer to that of the ancient Jews would actually be much better for preserving the health of gut bacteria. As more research emerges, hopefully we’ll continue to get more specific information about how to “feed” our microbiome in a way that promotes good health.
On a practical level, Christians might also reflect on ways that the promotion of good health, including the promotion of healthy gut bacteria, aids us in the fulfillment of our kingdom purpose. The writer of Hebrews exhorts believers to run the race of life with endurance (Hebrews 12:1–2). But how often do we reflect on the ways that good fitness levels and eating habits enhance our ability to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19–20)? Conversely, how often do we consider the ways obesity hinders our ability to do ministry? Taking care of our bodies certainly increases our chances of enduring a longer race.
Continued research has the potential to yield insights into a potential new area of design. It’s possible that future inquiry may reveal that such diversity of gut bacteria is a unique feature of human beings and may open new ways of meditating on what it means to be “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).