Invite from China


Colin Austin   Shenzhen China  11 May 2016

Attached is my not so serious account of my adventures in Yunnan to look for the world’s best soil. It did not go to plan but raised some serious questions. I hope you enjoy reading this.

Thirty years ago almost all Chinese were skinny - now about half are still skinny but the rest are fat - the rural population with the best soil and most nutritious food are fatter than their city cousins - while thinner than the Western population they have higher rates of diabetes.

Already diabetes and the related problems are a major - but rapidly growing - health issue, losing limbs, blindness and reduction of life cause major personal distress while is a major strain on the health service. An amputation led recover may please the economic rationalist but is a tragedy for the people who suffer.

My studies lead me to believe that our gut bacteria are a major factor. They digest much of our food, they produce vitamins we cannot, they create hormones which control our appetite and whether our food is stored as fat or goes to energy. For those interested I have a list of recommended reading and viewings.

But our beneficial gut bacteria can be destroyed by antibiotics (which is in processed foods whether we like it or not), toxins from pollution or by harmful bacteria from eating the wrong food.

Experiments on mice have shown that they can be made fat or slim, energetic or slothful virtually at will by changing the gut bacteria. This is pretty powerful evidence of the importance of gut bacteria and is easily done with mice as they are more than happy to eat their own or other mice’s pooh.

But people are not so keen on eating other people’s pooh - the medical profession has developed pills with a long euphemistic name but are really just pooh pills, while if you prefer a plumbing job is available at the other end. Neither are likely to become a mass sensation.

However, for thousands of years’ humans have had healthy gut bacteria simply from the food they ate. To me this natural process seems infinitely preferable to adding pooh pills to the array of pills that many people are popping on a daily basis.

I am confident that I know how to make soil with a healthy biology that grows healthy plants but I have a missing link in my knowledge - how soil biology is transferred to our bodies to create healthy gut bacteria.

When I get back to Australia I intend to set up some self-experimentation on how to improve my gut bacteria to improve my health (and weight).

But I am just one person and the idea occurred to me that it may be possible to set up what is essentially a crowd research project where a group of people with the same interest as me - in the effect of diet on health - conduct their own self experiments to create a pool of shared knowledge.

In essence it would mean growing and eating plants in biologically active soil and cutting out some of the harmful food like fructose and trans fats and just seeing whether you feel better and are healthier.
The first step is to see if this is a viable project which will be supported. I am therefore asking you to email me to let me know if you may be interested in participating. When I get back to Australia I will be writing up my method of creating biologically active soil with more details on my ideas on this trial.


pdf version for printing Yunnan.pdf


Food to make us healthy

5 Mar 2016


The Nutrient Chain

Colin Austin  © Creative commons this document may be reproduced but the source should be acknowledged. Information may be used for private use but commercial use requires a license.

This web sites aims to show how to grow food which will make people healthy

Carbohydrates and Minerals

wheat field ina1.jpg Plants take carbon dioxide and water (via rain) from the atmosphere and energy from the sun to create carbohydrates which we eat to use as a source of energy - breathing out carbon dioxide back to the atmosphere. This is a totally sustainable cycle - as long as the sun keeps shining. All those fields of wheat, rice, corn etc. are simply natural solar panels.


Our modern diet has abundant energy from these carbohydrates which will continue way into the future.


rock in soil But there is another cycle - the nutrient cycle. Minerals starting life as insoluble rocks in the ground are broken down by soil biology - particularly fungi - into more complex chemicals which are soluble and can be absorbed by plants which in turn convert these into even more complex chemicals - the phytonutrients which provide us with essential minerals and vitamins.

Our bodies use some of these phytonutrients directly others are converted into even more complex chemicals - such as the hormones - which control our body particularly how much we want to eat and what our bodies does with the energy - burn it up in burst of activity or convert and store it as fat.


fungi ina3.jpgFor millennia this used to be a totally sustainable cycle - our poop and bodies were returned to the earth but no longer. Modern industrialised food production may be extremely efficient in producing carbohydrates but is lacking the essential phytonutrients which provide us with the essential vitamins and minerals.

This web site aims to show how virtually anyone can grow food which will make then healthy by managing the nutrient chain from the raw minerals to our stomachs while recycling much of the waste back into our food supply.


Food as Medicine


food as medicine Just search the internet for diet and health, particularly Drs Michael Gregor, Mark Hyman and Brian Mowll - diet has a major impact on health and can reverse diabetes, minimize the risk of heart attacks and reduce body fat.

There may be differences on  fat versus sugar but they all say that eating fresh fruit and vegetables gown in soil with plant available nutrients is the key to health.

This sites aims to help people grow food which will make them healthy.  I starts in the soil with biology which releases nutrients to the plants.


There is a nutrient chain which start with

- the soil biology which makes minerals and nutrients available to plants

- plant which not only produced carbohydrates for energy but the essential vitamins, mineral, and phytonutrients

- which in turn control the hormones - which determine how much food we eat but more importantly what our bodies does with this food e.g. provide energy, rebuild our bodies or simply stored as unhealthy fat.


factory farming en2.jpgThe modern industrialised food system produces abundant cheap food full of fats, sugars and salt but low in vitamins, minerals and the natural phytonutrients which are critical for health.

We want to show how people  they can offset the negatives by growing healthy food themselves.

We also focus on how to produce food sustainably by conserving nutrients and recycling all waste back into nutritious food.


wicking bed Wicking beds are a major game changer allowing almost anyone, even people with limited space, times or skills to grow food which is full of these essential vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Soil is the key to Wicking Beds - it must have a high void space and be hydrophilic (water loving).  Humus - the end product of composting can hold so much water that it makes the common separate water reservoir absolute.  We talk about how to make humus from waste.  There is o need to waste money on expensive Wicking Beds - I want them low cost so everyone can benefit. 


composting wormsWhile health may be the top priority we focus on how to produce food sustainably by conserving nutrients and recycling all waste back into nutritious food. For example by composting and worm farming.  Biology releases nutrients from minerals so they are available to the plants which in turn will make us healthy.


 libraryIt is a reference site or library containing some 900 articles on food, health, soil, water some short and simple just focusing on the basic or ‘how to’ while many are longer; articles which study the issues in depth. While it may be great to have so much information you may need a little help in finding the article you are actually interested in.


To help we have installed a search box which scans the entire web.

We have also set up a system for improved manual search - we have divided the web into two main area - current and previous topics.


We suggest the first step is for you to go to the library


Current topics include


icontime.jpg New - which list the recently published articles


iconnutritionp.jpgdiet and health - which looks at how our bodies react to diet impacts


iconwickingbed2.jpgWicking Beds - which are the easiest way for many people to grow some of their own food


iconsoil2.jpgsoil and soil biology - which is the starting point for healthy food.


Previous topics include Water (making the most of water)

Scheduling, Salinity, micro-flood, Carbon absorption and climate change,My time in Ethiopia, publications, Videos, publications

(n.b. while these files contain information which is still valid and relevant today the original format has been maintained)

I am currently selecting the best of the articles into the sections. Some topics have been covered in a series of articles we have included a suggested reading list.

You may need to use the search box to locate the 'oldies but goldies'.

I run this site as a free service because I feel strongly about the damage being caused to our health by industrialised farming and processed foods.  Globally this is the largest drain on the global health services. The cost to the Australian health system for diabetes is $14.6billion p.a.

But it is not the money - it is the personal cost of having limbs amputated, going blind, suffering heart attacks and stokes.  Yet with the right diet Diabetes is reversible.

To contact me email