Have you been noticing the explosion of info about Gut health and the human microbiome? Heard of Probiotics, Prebiotics and Fermented foods? Do you know how important your gut health is for EVERY SINGLE SYSTEM in your body? If you haven't heard of these terms, it's time you did. For the sake of your health!
Our microbiome is located throughout our body, but lives mostly through our digestive tract. The microbiome is a collection of bacteria, yeasts and parasitic organisms that we host in our bodies. It is so prolific that we are in fact made of 90% bacterial cells, and only about 10% human cells! Is that scary of what? We are merely a host to these ubiquitous bacteria who have 150 x the amount of DNA we do. With numbers that high, the microbiome literally guide the expression of our genes. It's time to ponder the big questions - are you really you, or are you just an expression of your bacteria?
A dominance and over colonization of bad bacteria is called Dysbiosis and can cause numerous health issues with basic day to day problems like gas, bloating, poor digestion etc. We are headed toward a future where bacteria are prescribed by medical doctors to treat diseases. It's already happening!
Your microbiome does the following powerful things for you: - Helps you to recover from Diarrhea - Assimilates cholesterol from the GI tract - Detoxify estrogens and other toxins (Anti carcinogenic) - Supports our immune system - Assist with digestion - Produces vitamins - Fortifies the intestinal lining and repels pathogens and yeasts - Help regulate Zonulin which is crucial to prevent leaky gut
Research into the microbiome is still relatively young, but even the early stages are indicating how important a healthy microbiome is for our overall health. Probiotic therapy is helping halt, and even regress several disease processes in the body. Every single meal you eat, has the power to completely change your microbiome. And don't be fooled into thinking it's you craving those salty chips, or high carb or sugary foods. Your microbiome are powerful messengers in the body and can influence cravings and thought patterns. If you feed more of the bad guys, they will prevail and leave you feeling crappy and constantly bombard you with cravings.
Changing your microbiome can take time. But in saying that every single meal has teh power to change your microbiome. It's a process of feeding the good bacteria with smart nutrition, therapeutic doses of probiotics, prebiotic foods, and reducing the numbers of the less beneficial bacteria. Prebiotics are foods that feed the bacteria. When it comes to the microbiome, there are not necessarily goodies and baddies. The key to a healthy microbiome is diversity. The more varieties of bacteria you have, the more
likely it is you are healthy. That's why eating a variety of foods is key to introduce and new bacterial species.
Certain strains of bacteria have been identified to promote health, or to help with specific conditions. And did you know that there is a bacterial strain that can make you more prone to being obese, and one that makes you skinny? Yes you read that right - Obese individuals have higher levels of a strain Firmicutes, thinner individuals have more of a strain called Bacteroidetes. Lab studies have successfully proven skinny mice gain weight when given bacteria from obese mice, and vice versa!
When a baby is born vaginally, it gets a healthy dose of the mothers microbiome which is it's first powerful lesson in building it's immune system. Without this bacteria, the baby misses out on this key head start in life, and consequently babies born via Cesarean are more prone to allergies and compromised immune systems. As this research spreads, hospitals are beginning to wipe the mothers vaginal fluid on c-section babies to try and overcome this. There is also vast research indicating increased health benefits of babies who had mothers taking probiotics during pregnancy, and especially 3rd Trimester.
Some of the worst influences on our gut bacteria are poor dietary choices, stress, and harmful medications like Antibiotics, the pill, Steroids, Anti-inflammatory drugs. Avoiding these will help build a strong microbiome that in turn will make you strong!
How to build a happy home for the good bugs:
Eat a variety of organic foods – especially vegetables
Eat Polyphenals (antioxidants) found in coloured vegetables, good quality coffee or chocolate, as they function as prebiotics
Take probiotics. Cycle several brands, and strains if you can afford it.
Eat fermented (pre-digested) foods rich in bacteria like Kefir, Kombucha, and Sauerkraut.
Start slowly with probiotics and fermented foods to avoid creating a sudden die off of bad bacteria which may worsen symptoms.
Eat prebiotic foods rich in Inulin: dandelions, artichoke, garlic, onions, asparagus, chickory, resistant starch (green bananas, cold rice or potatoes)
You are not what you eat. You are what your gut bacteria digest.
If there is one thing you take away from this, hopefully it's the power of your bacteria to control your health! :)