That there – on the left – is some food for thought!
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we are being flooded with information about something called the microbiome. Dr Google describes it as ‘the genetic material of all the microbes – bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses – that live on and inside the human body. The number of genes in all the microbes in one person’s microbiome is 200 times the number of genes in the human genome.’
Back in May I wrote a bit about it when himself was being saturated with massive doses of antibiotics. That stuff kills the microbiome. And this in turn has a huge impact on immunity – the ability to fight nasty bugs. It’s kind of a big deal. The University of Washington has this to say about it’s function –
The bacteria in the microbiome help digest our food, regulate our immune system, protect against other bacteria that cause disease, and produce vitamins including B vitamins B12, thiamine and riboflavin, and Vitamin K, which is needed for blood coagulation…
Autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia are associated with dysfunction in the microbiome. Disease-causing microbes accumulate over time, changing gene activity and metabolic processes and resulting in an abnormal immune response against substances and tissues normally present in the body. Autoimmune diseases appear to be passed in families not by DNA inheritance but by inheriting the family’s microbiome.
Collaborative research into it’s role and function is being conducted by many institutions across the world. We will be hearing a lot more about it. In the meantime, there are things you can do to help it work better in the interest of your health and wellbeing:
Increase fibre intake
Eat lots of fruit and veg – seasonal if possible. Try to include food and drinks with polyphenols which are antioxidants that act as fuel for microbes. Examples are nuts, seeds, berries, olive oil, brassicas, coffee and tea – especially green tea.
Give your gut a break – maybe a mini fast
Eat fermented foods – Good choices are unsweetened yoghurt; kefir, which is a sour milk drink with five times as many microbes as yoghurt; raw milk cheeses; sauerkraut; kimchi, a Korean dish made from garlic, cabbage and chilli; and soybean-based products such as soy sauce, tempeh and natto.
Have a wee drink of booze. Lots is not good.
Avoid additives, especially artificial sweeteners.
Enjoy nature. Soak up the sun. Walk outside barefoot. Listen to the waves breaking on the shore. Hug a tree…
Love your dog. Pet owners, it seems, have a more diverse microbiota.
Avoid taking non-essential medications.
Don’t be too fastidious with cleaning.
Do like the Hadza in Tanzania. Their microbiome diversity is the best in the world.
Look after your guts