My ‘Health’ elevator sales pitch when asked ‘what is the one thing a person can do to feel better’ is to focus on the gut.
The community of bacteria and other microbes living in your intestinal tract, collectively known as the gut microbiome, are the best long-term investment in your health.
Trillions of microbial cells inhabit the human body, outnumbering human cells by 10 to one according to some estimates, and growing evidence suggests that the rich array of intestinal microbiota helps us process nutrients in the foods we eat, bolsters the immune system and does all sorts of odd jobs that promote sound health. A diminished microbial ecosystem, on the other hand, is believed to have consequences that extend far beyond the intestinal tract, affecting everything from allergies and inflammation, metabolic diseases like diabetes and obesity, even mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.
WHAT CAN YOU DO:
1. HAVE A VAGINAL BIRTH The bacteria that live in the vagina are the same ones that live in our gut. If you don’t get this initial inoculation at birth then other bacteria can take up residence, such as skin bacteria, bad bacteria from the hospital or yeast. But if that horse has already left the barn then make sure you take good probiotics daily. Some resourceful pregnant moms are swabbing their c-section babies’ mouths with a clean and previously inserted tampon to recreate the birth canal bacteria experience. Research shows this is working.
2. AVOID ANTIBIOTICS AND STEROIDS if possible. These kill the good bacteria or suppress the immune system so bad bacteria and yeast can set up residence in the gut. Use natural alternatives that are often as effective for everyday illnesses. You may need to find a holistic practitioner for guidance.
3. AVOID PESTICIDES AND CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS These wreak havoc on our intestinal friends by either killing off the good bacteria or literally punching small holes in the lining of the gut. Imagine living in a castle for safety yet purposely invite outsiders over on a daily basis and watch them repeatedly punch holes in the castle wall. This is what happens every time you eat RoundUp ready food such as GMO, non-organic wheat products. This is also known as Leaky Gut Syndrome. Make sure you select non-GMO, organic foods to minimize this highly inflammatory condition.
4. EAT HEALTHY The bacteria in the gut love greens and dietary fiber. They convert the food products into energy and healing nutrients. The brain loves one of the by-products called Butyrate. Butyrate is the preferred fuel source of the brain and GI tract and is much better for these organs than sugar. Imagine making a fire in your backyard. Do you want a nice long burning log with a soothing crackle, pleasant smell and minimal debris or the bright burst of dried leaves with all the ash and embers flying everywhere potentially starting a fire somewhere else? Butyrate is the log and sugar is the leaves. Butyrate calms and heals. Sugar gives a burst of energy then send toxins throughout the body.
5. TAKE REPLENISHING SUPPLEMENTS I already mentioned probiotics. My other mandatories are vitamin D3, fish oil and a good multivitamin. I personalize other supplements as needed on a case by case basis.
So you have the power to control how your genes are expressed by how you eat. This is called epigenetics. Take the new year and give yourself the gift of a healthy long life.