A Swamp Draining Analogy

Roni Caryn Rabin provides an excellent swamp draining analogy in her story “A Gut Makeover for the New Year.”

An analogy is a comparison between two things for the purpose of explanation or clarification. The two things to be analogized are the microbiome (critters that live in your gut) and swamp dwelling political insiders and elites (critters that live in Washington). For the sake of simplicity quotes from the microbiome story will be in italics while references to swamp dwellers will not.

Here is Phil Marden’s picture of happy prospering microbiome consuming good things while the miserable doofus microbiome is eating pizza. The hat worn sideways is the tip off.

Please don’t think I am analogizing the swamp dwelling Washington critters to the cheerful consumers of nuts, grains, fruits, veggies, legumes and seeds. The doofus sideways-hat-wearing, pizza-eating microbiome is the one I have in mind. The doofus and the swamp dwellers are the ones that have the power to make us feel either great or awful.

Trillions of microbial cells inhabit the human body… and growing evidence suggests that the rich array of intestinal microbiota … does all sorts of odd jobs that promote sound health. A diminished microbial ecosystem, on the other hand, is believed to have consequences that extend far beyond the intestinal tract, affecting everything…

Sometimes it appears that there are trillions of swamp dwellers in Washington but this is an exaggeration since there are not even trillions of people on earth. What is clear is that those swamp dwellers punch well above their weight. A diminished microbial ecosystem if ever there was one.

Microbial diversity may be further undermined by the typical high-calorie American diet, rich in sugar, meats and processed foods.

 The one word equivalent for the swamp dwellers is money.

Altering your microbiome, however, may not be easy, and nobody knows how long it might take. So if the microbial community in your gut has been shaped by a daily diet of cheeseburgers and pepperoni pizza, for example, it won’t respond as quickly to a healthy diet as a gut shaped by vegetables and fruits…

The swamp critters do not wish to be changed by the withdrawal of money lest they be faced with unpleasant phone calls from mortgage lenders and the bursars at their children’s schools and colleges. Half of them malign the top 1% but all of them love being in it. Expect them to cling tenaciously to their cheeseburgers and pepperoni pizzas.

The microbiome story includes a discussion about an experiment involving good diets, bad diets, exercise and sloth among mice. For the sake of scientific purity, the mice are separated into control groups designed to mimic favored and disfavored American activities, with some emphasis on the disfavored. There was one line that caught my eye.

Mice eat one another’s droppings when they live together, so they easily share the bacterial wealth.

Clearly, the hapless mice learned this skill from the swamp dwellers.

By now, you get the whole analogy thing so we’ll just end where the author began and leave you to draw your own conclusion.

If you’re making resolutions for a healthier new year, consider a gut makeover. Refashioning the community of bacteria and other microbes living in your intestinal tract, collectively known as the gut microbiome, could be a good long-term investment in your health.

Not so good for the swamp dwellers to say nothing of those to whom mortgage payments and tuitions are owed, but salutary for the rest of us.

8 Responses to “A Swamp Draining Analogy”

David Irons, January 03, 2017 at 8:12 pm said:

Finding myself hung up on the endless possibilities implied by mouse dropping analogies….


Haven Pell, January 04, 2017 at 7:12 am said:

Poor Ms Rabin. Her story will be remembered for little else.


GARRARD GLENN, January 03, 2017 at 9:13 pm said:

Am I a man, or a mouse? I gather it really doesn’t matter, as visceral absorption of mouse droppings is beneficial to both populations. Hence, I plan to eat more canned food, as canned foods contain a heretofore troubling amount of mouse droppings.


Haven Pell, January 04, 2017 at 7:13 am said:

Fortunately, you have now learned that the canned food will be beneficial to your microbiome


C. Griffin, January 03, 2017 at 9:49 pm said:

Evidently you hit a nerve with that mice, um, food tidbit. I am rather more bothered by that backward hat guy eating the pizza (fact: Consumer Reports did a piece years ago on the amount of rat feces found in probably 10 different pizza chains–in our house we just call it protein).
Maybe all the swamp people will OD on pizza–we can only hope.


Haven Pell, January 04, 2017 at 7:14 am said:

Perhaps an assault on the microbiome of the Washington critters would be more successful than other efforts to rid ourselves of them?


Brandy, January 04, 2017 at 7:56 am said:

Follow the poop replaces follow the money? The swamp/tummy expunging maybe an eradicate process. but, shucks, out with the known bad and in with the yet unknown bad. We’re in for an interesting ride and, what the hell, we survived the ride just (reluctantly) ending.


Haven Pell, January 04, 2017 at 8:02 am said:

Good question. Nobody listens to follow the money anyway.


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