Most of us have been taught that we must avoid germs, viruses, and other organisms in order to be healthy at all costs! However, with the majority of microorganisms, we actually have a symbiotic and caring relationship. For millions of years, they've been an important element of human evolution and wellness.
Nature inundates us with bacteria from the moment we are born. Our bodies are free of microorganisms and our gastrointestinal (GI) tract is sterile before we are born. Then, when we pass through the vaginal canal, we are covered in our mother's microbiome. Microbes begin colonising the GI tract within hours of birth. Our mother's colostrum (breast milk) helps to populate our gut with healthy bacteria during the first few days of our lives, preventing bad bacteria from forming and causing illness.
Colostrum was once thought to be poor in nutrients and so of little value. However, we now know that colostrum contains a massive amount of microbiome-building nutrients. In a nutshell, nursing is a natural component of the process of establishing our microbiome.
Your Immune System and Your Gut Microbiome
The lining of your gut houses over 80% of your immune system, and your microbiome is constantly in contact with it. High diversity and richness are essential for a healthy and resilient gut microbiota. Your immune system is stronger and more stable when there is a large diversity and richness of bacteria in your gut.
Two key topics to grasp are gut-microbiome richness and diversity:
-> The overall number of bacterial species in your gut microbiome is referred to as richness. If we were to compare that to a group of people that would mean that we'd have a large number of occupations present such as doctors, teachers, firefighters and entrepreneurs, for example.
-> The amount of individual bacteria from each of the bacterial species present in your gut microbiome is known as diversity. If we were to compare that to a group of people that would mean that we'd have a large number of people in each occupational group like127 doctors, 81 teachers, and 62 firefighters, and 2 entrepreneurs for example.
A community with a lot of richness and diversity is considerably more resilient and capable. This is simple to understand because having a large number of people with various expertise at your disposal allows you to call on exactly the correct person for the work at hand. What if you're short on firefighters or have only five? When there's a huge fire, who will come to the rescue?
By analogy, a diverse gut microbiota provides our bodies with the resources they require to combat pathogens and maintain homeostasis, or a healthy dynamic balance.
DISEASE IS ASSOCIATED WITH REDUCED DIVERSITY
Low gut microbiome diversity is a problem because it has been linked to a number of chronic conditions, including:
Chronic fatigue syndrome
This is by no means an entire list, but it does demonstrate that poor microbial diversity plays a significant role in a wide range of disorders.
DIVERSITY IS ASSOCIATED WITH BETTER HEALTH.
Naturally, you might the question arises: how can we increase gut microbiome variety while still living better lives?
1) Use disinfectants and sanitizers sparingly.
2) Antibiotics should be used with caution.
Antibiotics, disinfectants, and sanitizers are effective against infections and infectious diseases, but they can also kill the good microorganisms that keep us healthy. Antibiotics can reduce gut microbiome diversity by as least 30% in just one round. And according to some studies, the decline in microbiome diversity could be far greater.
Limiting your usage of antibiotics, or restoring the microbiota after a course of antibiotics, is a vital step, even if it is occasionally necessary. Furthermore, there are occasions when using sanitizers and disinfectants to protect yourself against disease is vital, and the benefits of doing so exceed the hazards.
As a result, it's critical to nourish the microbiome on a regular basis in order to maintain a healthy balance while being safe. The most important thing is to be aware of the impact on the microbiota and to perform daily microbiome support.
Eating for a Microbiome That Is Healthy
The food choices you make in your daily life can make the biggest difference in cultivating a healthy gut microbiome. The gut microbiome can be badly degraded by the current Western diet, which is poor in fibre but abundant in sugar, salt, fat, and highly processed foods.
When the gut microbiome is damaged or destroyed, bacteria begin to produce endotoxins, which are microbial by-products. When these toxins get through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream, inflammatory markers are activated and remain active until the toxins are no longer present. Chronic low-level inflammation is a root cause of a variety of diseases.
It's crucial to remember that a "normal" gut microbiome has yet to be identified due to its genetic complexity, and each individual is likely to have the microbial balance that is best for them. There is still a lot of study going on in this sector.
EAT A VARIATION OF NATURAL FOODS
Researchers believe that consuming a wide variety of natural foods, with a concentration on fruits, vegetables, and fibre, is the best way to develop a robust, healthy gut microbiome.
Here are some recommendations on what to include in your diet and what to reduce or omit. Following these measures will assist to improve the diversity of your gut microbiota while also reducing inflammation in your body-mind.
EAT FOODS THAT ARE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY
If you're allergic or sensitive to any of these meals, there are plenty of additional anti-inflammatory foods to choose from.
Berries and tart cherries
Cold-water fish with a lot of fat (such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring)
Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower)
Dark, leafy greens bullet
mycoprotein bullet (from mushrooms and other fungi)
Bacterial strains that are alive and contribute to the population of healthy bacteria in your digestive system. These are foods that have live bacteria in them, such as:
Yogurt that is active
Consume a variety of foods high in prebiotics, a type of fibre that our bodies can't digest but that provides excellent nutrition for the microbiota while also reducing inflammation. Prebiotics can be found in the following foods:
REDUCE INFLAMMATORY FOODS
This will help reduce the number of microbes that are pro-inflammatory. Eliminating or reducing your intake of foods that cause digestive inflammation, will also help with a number of other health problems, as inflammation tends to be the root cause of more diseases.
Red meat (that is not grass-fed)
Saturated and trans fats (animal fats and the hydrogenated vegetable fats contained in many processed foods)
White bread and other processed foods made with refined flour
Refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners
Processed, refined, or manufactured foods containing artificial flavorings, colorings, or sweeteners
Foods containing antibiotics or hormones
However I must mention that heavily restricting food can also lead to damages, such as poor mental health and eating disorders. Please, please remember that life is about balance. If you're at a restaurant, with your friends and family, and feel like you want a burger... have it, sometimes.
If you need help restoring your microbiome, or just want to start your journey towards perfect health, it would be my honor to be by your side. Please join my waiting list here.
Wishing everyone a healthy microbiome,