I did a talk downtown on Leaky Gut Syndrome and the importance of our microbiome this week. The microbiome is becoming a big topic in the medical community. In fact, it is the second genome project. Microbes are believed to outnumber our human cells by approximately 10:1 and have a huge influence on our body. The microbiota is a collection of microorganisms, including bacteria, living on and within us. The number of beneficial species living within us in a healthy population is thought to be ~85% good and 15% not so good. There are 500 plus species of bacteria in us, thought to add up to 100 trillion ‘bugs’.
These gut flora are influenced by geographical location in which you grew up in, diet and even your parent’s resident gut flora. With the number of individual’s opting for a C-section versus a vaginal birth (and this is sometimes a medical necessity), it is important to remember that exposure to some of these bugs is good for you. This is why it is beneficial to be born via a vaginal birth. Getting exposed to your Mom’s bugs on exiting the birth canal is good for your young immune system. Sanitation, of course, is necessary too, but not to the detriment of the microbiome. Some drugs can harm our microbiome, especially antibiotics, but other prescription drugs like pain killers, can be hard on these critters as well.
Our resident gut flora have so many jobs to keep. Their main role is digestion and immune surveillance. If you think about your digestive tract, it is your biggest exposure to the outside world. The tube that starts at your mouth and travels all the way to your anus is a big source of exposure to bacteria, viruses, parasites, yeast and many other bugs. When the contents go through your digestive tract that you ingest, your microbiome acts as a protective barrier to keep the good guys in and the bad guys out. The gut flora help us digest our food, synthesize nutrients such as B vitamins and K2, absorb minerals, regulate inflammation, and establish the proper immune response to incoming antigens. We need to thank our microbiome for all it does to keep us well!
We need to do our part to support our microbiome. Reducing toxin intake where you can have an influence is important. For instance, buying organic food, especially when it comes to the dirty dozen can be helpful. Avoiding processed food, artificial sweeteners and food additives can support these critters. Limiting refined grains, processed meats, sugar, and emphasizing the intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes in the form of peas, lentils and beans bring in the fiber needed to support the growth and diversity of the microbiome. Prebiotic fiber source examples include apples, artichokes, asparagus, garlic, leeks and oatmeal. Intake of these make our intestinal bugs happy. Probiotic food sources are also important for support of these bacteria. Choose raw souces of sauerkraut, kim chi, organic tempeh, organic miso, unsweetened plain organic yogurt with active cultures, for starters. Rome was not built in a day. Choose one thing you can implement today to build a better microbiome! To learn more about your microbiome and it’s critical role in your health, book into see me at Parallel Health and Wellness in downtown Calgary.
References: Eat Dirt, Josh Axe; Nature 2007