Are We Bacterial Spacesuits?!
Bacteria are literally controlling our brains and our bodies!
Did you know that there are trillions of microbes living in your digestive tract? That’s more than all the human cells in the body.
This garden of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms is called your GUT MICROBIOME, and it is critical to your immune, neurological, hormonal, and overall health.
The gut microbiome is critical to immune, neurological, hormonal, & overall health
The bacteria in your gut are involved in:
Breaking down food,
Balancing and regulating your immune system,
Protection against infection,
Maintaining healthy digestion,
Production of vitamins, fatty acids & other nutrients (1), and
Synthesis of neurotransmitters.
My husband jokingly calls us “Bacterial Spacesuits” because these bacteria can literally tell us what to feel, do, and eat by controlling the neurotransmitters which communicate with our brains.
When your gut microbiome is out of balance, meaning you have too much “bad” bacteria and not enough “good” bacteria, it is associated with many health concerns: digestive upset, autoimmune diseases, skin issues, sleep difficulties, depression, anxiety, autism, malnutrition, nerve issues, and more. (2-5)
Eating processed foods, certain medications (6), stress, malnutrition, and gut infections can negatively impact the microbiome by promoting imbalance.
How to Keep The Microbiome Happy
Since they live in your digestive tract, what you eat primarily determines the health of your microbiome. Good bacteria feed and thrive on plant foods with fiber, so the more fiber you eat, the healthier your microbiome.
Also, the more different plant types a person eats, the higher the diversity of microbial species in the gut. The American Gut Project found that people who ate 30 or more different plant types a week had more diverse microbiomes than people who ate only 10 types or less per week.(7)
People who eat more than 30 types of plants each week have more diverse microbiomes
Here are some tips for keeping your gut microbiome happy and diverse:
Choose foods with more fiber, like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts & legumes.
Eat a variety of plant-based foods – at least 30+ different foods each week
Eat fermented foods (yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi), which contain healthy bacteria (start with a little at a time, to avoid digestive side effects)
Take a probiotic supplement
Minimize sugar intake
Minimize processed foods
Avoid antibiotics whenever possible and supplement with a probiotic if you need to take them (ideally one containing Saccharomyces boulardii)
Keeping your garden of microbes happy will help to keep your body healthier.
Endnotes and References:
1. Nutrients produced by gut bacteria include vitamin K, B-vitamins, biotin, short-chain fatty acids (including butyrate, acetate & propionate), and amino acids (threonine, lysine, leucine).
6. Medications that have been associated with altering the gut microbiome include antibiotics, statins, proton-pump inhibitors, metformin, laxatives, and opioids (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7398478/)
The information contained in this article is intended for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not to be construed as personalized nutritional advice nor intended to be a substitute for proper health and medical care. Please consult your physician or a qualified health care professional for support with your health.