There are trillions of microorganisms in the human body. It is estimated that there are 10x as many microbial cells as human cells. Probiotics are trending and for good reason. Their actions are vital for human health. These microbes literally affect everything.
Changing the balance of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut microbiome influences our health and wellbeing — inflammation, for example, or even depression, obesity, allergies, and anxiety. In extreme cases, fecal transplants are used heal life threatening gut infections. Yes, you read that right. Fecal transplants save lives.
Much research is being done to isolate and understand different strains in different parts of the body. One 2011 study published in Nature suggested that the gut micobiota balance plays a significant role in obesity and insulin resistance. Subjects with less abundant “good” bacteria had increased appetite and food intake as well as an increase in adipose (fat) tissue.
The microbiome provides crucial enzymes to turn the food we eat into energy, specialty cells of immune system, and cells that regulate inflammation. This is one way that diet strongly influences the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria.
Foods known as “prebiotics” provide excellent food for our “good” bacterial. High fiber foods such as whole grains, as well as bananas, onions, garlic, honey and artichokes are all beneficial. Also, for the meat eaters, bits of tendons and cartilage on meat still attached to the bone excellent food for our microbiome.
Fermented foods are both prebiotic and probiotic, but it’s rare in our culture to get enough of these on a daily basis. Try adding some of the following to your diet every day.
- Raw Fermented Foods (unpasturized so these will be refridgerated)
To supplement with a probiotic, you may not always get what you pay for, so ask your doctor if she or he has a favorite. Many factors influence the potency of the probiotic, and these fragile microbes must survive the manufacturing process, sitting on the shelf, and through the stomach acid. Some supplement manufacturers use patented delivery systems and technology to ensure that the number of live organisms make it from the plant where it is made to your gut. My personal favorite is Probiotic Synergy by Designs for Health.
Lastly, avoid antibiotic use unless absolutely necessary! Do NOT take antibiotics for a viral condition. For many years antibiotics have been overprescribed- to both humans and animals. This wipes out part of our microbiome, and it is unknown if those species that were destroyed will ever recover completely.