Gut Microbiome. I’m sure you have heard this term being used when the topic of health comes up. In the simplest sense, the gut microbiome is am ecosystem of bacteria that lives in your digestive system. There are between 300-500 unique kinds of good bacteria living there, numbering in the trillions and playing different roles. To some extent, most people know that good bacteria in your stomach is important. You have likely seem a Yakult commercial growing up after all! However, recently scientists are bedimming to find that the significance of the Gut Microbiome is much greater than we thought. Evidence is beginning to show that that the bacteria that lives with us is responsible for nearly every essential bodily function, from brain development to immune response. Let’s take a closer look at what makes up our gut microbiome, and how we cam keep it healthy.
Bacteria make up most of the biodiversity in the world. There are thousands more species of bacteria than all other life forms om Earth. Bacteria live in all kinds of places and conditions. What they do have in common is that they are highly specialized and good at what they do.
For a little while, world was obsessed with killing bacteria, which they termed as “germs”. However now we know that it is more important to keep our good bacteria healthy.
Our body depends on several types of bacteria to function. Without many of these, our health would quickly deteriorate. Here are some of may important tasks our gut microbiome carries out:
- It is well-established that the health of your gut microbiome has a direct effect on your psychological health, reducing production of stress hormones, improving mood and even reducing the symptoms of those with autism or schizoprenia.
- People with healthy gut bacteria recover from adverse states much faster. Studies done on people sick with HIV and malnourished patients have shown that bacteria supplementation aided in rapid recovery.
- In our digestive system for example, we have a type of bacteria that is able to convert our food into the types of fatty acids needed for brain development. In studies it was found that it was the presence of bacteria, rather than nutrition which was the limiting factor for brain development in children.
- There have been multiple studies in 2021 showing that COVID patients have been shown to be resilient to severe symptoms as long as they maintained a healthy population of good bacteria. We have written about it in great deal in our article here.
- Even before COVID, the gut microbiome has shown to be highly effective in regulating the health of your respiratory system. The ability of bacteria to modulate inflammation allows the body to cope with allergies and asthma better.
- 70% of the effectivity of your immune system lives in the gut microbiome. The bacteria play a highly important role supporting and regulating our immune responses.
It almost seems like an exaggeration to say that every aspect of our health hinges on the health of our gut bacteria, but more and more doctors are beginning to agree that this is the truth of the matter.
Now that we know how important good bacteria is for our bodies let’s see how we can help our little friends out.
Here’s another term that is becoming more and more popular. Basically probiotics are foods that contain good bacteria. Examples of these are yogurt, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, atsara, palapa, saurkraut, burro and more. What you may have noticed about all these foods is that they are fermentations. Fermentations are made when we create the conditions for good bacteria to thrive, so that instead of decaying, the food is transformed into something mew. Milk becomes yogurt, sugar water becomes kefir and kombucha , cabbage becomes kimchi! This food that is created is rich in good bacteria.
There are some commercially available probiotic supplements, but I have never tried them. I personally feel it needs to come from live culture or food.
Our gut bacteria is able to reproduce but their levels are also depleted when we get sick. As mentioned, if we allow it to get too low, there are dangerous effects. That’s why it is important to keep your bacteria populations high by consuming probiotic food. Imagine that you are building a thriving ecosystem in your gut!
Prebiotics om the other hand are food for good bacteria. These include foods with high amounts of soluble fiber, like Okra, Eggplant Roots and Seeds. The fiber in this food is mot digested by our stomach acid, but consumed by the good bacteria. Just like any population, gut bacteria needs quality food to reproduce and thrive. Studies have shown that the beneficial effects of probiotics increase greatly when prebiotics are included in the diet. So remember to consume fiber-rich food to keep your little friends well fed.
Organic food is also important for cultivating your gut bacteria. Toxic chemical residues that are found om conventional produce has been shown to damage the populations of your microbiome. Read more here.
Treatment with Antibiotics has shown to do damage to good bacteria as well as the bad. It is important to put of any antibiotic use unless absolutely necessary This is difficult sometimes, as most doctors will quickly prescribe them at any sign of bacterial infection. The truth is, most infections cam be overcome with a combination of microbiome support as well as your immune system’s response. There are also many natural disinfectants, such as honey and garlic.
Many people choose mot to take antibiotics, and have not since birth, myself and two siblings included. It is quite rare that a situation is dire enough to warrant their use. If the need truly arises, studies have shown that probiotic supplementation hastens healing.
I cam personally attest to the healing power of bacteria cultivation. In five years of daily consumption of several sources of cultured food, I have never gotten sick enough to see a doctor. Within my own family (animals included) we have cured UTI, Bacterial imperfection of stomach and Ulcers using probiotics and prebiotics. This is because our good bacteria cam overwhelm infectious agents and facilitate healing.
Whether or not you choose to put your health completely in the hands of your bacterial friends is up to you. But do be aware that regardless of what medical practice you choose, the Gut Microbiome is there to help.