Cell for cell we are 10 times more bacteria than human. In fact for every human gene you possess there are about 100 bacterial ones that also make up who you are. So when you do the math it means this ..you are 1/3 of 1% of who you think you are!
Welcome to your inner Microbiome -allow me to introduce you to 100 trillion of your closest friends and why everything you put in your mouth determines theirs and your very health.
Each one of us inherits our "micro-world" from our mother, picking up billions of microbes as we move through her bacteria laden birth canal. Those who are delivered by C-section are colonized by a less diverse array of bacteria. Research now shows that those that miss out on this vital inoculation may need support through the supplementation of baby friendly probiotic flora to reduce their risk of depressed immunity, digestive disorders and food sensitivities. We also receive microbes from our mother’s milk, which allows early microbial colonization of the gut, creating enhanced resistance.
The quest to understand our native microbes is becoming big science and in the very near future -big business, as it’s actually very important for public health. We rely on these microscopic inhabitants more than we realize. They provide us with nutrients that would otherwise be denied to us, prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, and negatively changing their community by diet and environment is now being linked to disease.
And their effects are not localized to just the gut - they also affect the brain as not only your physical health but also your mental health is deeply influenced by the health of the microbial zoo that lives within. Your gut microbes affect your overall brain function, from basic mood swings to the development of serious illnesses like Autism, Alzheimer’s, and schizophrenia.
The health of our inner "friends" are continuously affected by our environment, diet and lifestyle choices. If our microbiome is damaged and thrown out of balance (dysbiosis), all manner of health consequences can result. Some of the factors which increase our risk include:
Refined sugar, GMO /processed foods, pesticides, Gluten, Antibiotics, NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), antacids and Stress
The best way to optimize your gut flora is through your diet. A gut-healthy diet is one rich in whole, unprocessed, unsweetened foods, along with traditionally cultured foods. But before these foundational foods can work their magic in your body, you have to eliminate the damaging foods that get in their way. A good place to start is by drastically reducing your label bearing food sources. Processed foods can harm your good bacteria, and sugar promotes the growth of unfriendly inhabitants.
Incorporating traditional foods such as sauerkraut, naturally fermented pickles, miso, tempeh, and fermented yogurt, grassfed meats and organic produce will help heal, rebuild and “re-educate” your gut.
There is emerging research linking traditional dietary practices and positive mental health. The extent to which traditional dietary items may reduce inflammation via improving the health of our microbiota as well as our brains as yet to be fully realized but it is one of many reasons fields such as Integrative or nutritional psychiatry is quickly becoming the mainstay approach throughout America.
So the next time your out the putting the "pedal to the metal" of your health you at may want to think again about whose really driving the car!