The Sassy Sandpiper: Have You Hugged Your Microbiome Today?
By M.R. Wilson, TB Reporter
The latest health craze is caring for the invisible community living inside you.
Yes, we’re all carrying around a huge army— 100 trillion in our digestive tracts alone—and these mighty mites are getting a lot of attention from medical minds these days.
And well they should.
First, a brief introduction. Gaze at your navel and say hello to a microbiotic population—your GI tract flora. Microscopic denizens of the plant kingdom dwell in your innards, along with viruses and fungi. When they’re happy and healthy, so are you—mentally, physically and emotionally.
Some are commensal, just hitching a ride and making no particular contribution or deduction; some are symbiotic, doing good unto us as we do unto them. Some are pathogens, the disease carriers. According to Kelly Brogan, M.D., 99 percent of the genetic material in our bodies is not human, it belongs to our infinitesimally small fellow travelers, who have been with us since our beginnings. The microbiome is so crucial to human health, it can be considered an organ in and of itself.
So what does this microbiome do? It’s busy-busy, on duty 24/7 assisting in digestion and immune system function, secreting vitamins and neurotransmitters, helping us manage stress and sleep. The microbiome influences practically every aspect of our well-being.
What hurts the microbiome? Environmental chemicals, antibiotics, inadequate nutrition, artificial sweeteners, processed gluten-containing foods, and stress.
What helps the microbiome? Minimizing the aforementioned, obviously, but we ought to feed our internal troops, too. Eat whole foods known as prebiotics like asparagus, bananas, yams, raw onions, garlic, and leeks. Here’s a more complete list: prebiotin.com. Including prebiotics in your diet can promote better regularity, energy, vitamin production, improved bone density, more calcium absorption, less inflammation, and lower appetite, according to Frank Jackson, M.D.
In addition to feeding, we can add to the microbiotic community already in residence with foods containing probiotics. Be cautious in the grocery store. Yogurt is enthusiastically marketed, but may contain a boatload of added sugar. Acidophilus milk is regular milk with the healthy digestive tract bacteria acidophilus added, but I’ve heard it tastes “weird.” Supplements are okay, but I prefer eating real food to swallowing pills. Check out some probiotic foods here.
Try making your own sauerkraut. It’s incredibly easy, requiring only three ingredients: cabbage, water and salt. Pound shredded cabbage to release the juices. Put the crushed cabbage in a jar and pour in enough brine made with 1.5 tablespoons of salt in water to cover. Close tight. “Burp” the jar after a couple of days. Let sit a week.
Concocting Kombucha tea is a fun science project. You’ll need a SCOBY—symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria (a mushroom!)—tea, and brown sugar. My uncle secured my first mushroom, allegedly under cover of darkness from a suspicious character.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates.
Be nice to your microbiome. You never walk alone.
Sassy Sandpiper | M.R. Wilson | Merry Wilson | Microbiome | Kombucha | TB Reporter
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