Microbiome and You: How to Start a Happy Relationship with Bacteria
Natural Fact: 70% of the human immune system is concentrated in the gut. Our stomach is host to huge numbers of bacteria that help us fight infections, and we cannot begin to talk about a healthy immune system without first understanding the role of our gut flora- the microbiome.
It can be a challenging concept to take on board, but each one of is a colony of life. We all know that there are bacteria living inside us, but to understand how deeply symbiotic we are with our tiny passengers takes a mental leap. Let´s take that leap together, right now.
Would it surprise you to learn that the sandwich you just ate is still outside your body? This isn’t a trick question, it really is! The gut is, technically, an external surface barrier for your body. Just like your skin, it protects your delicate internal system from harm, and our benign bacterial population work with us to keep us from getting sick.
For example, the bacteria of our microbiome compete with pathogens for resources, just as other animals do. Imagine your gut as a watering hole on the savannah. Your immune system is a family of prey animals, gazelles for example. Pathogens are lions, who would ideally like to eat you. Fortunately for the gazelles (you) there is a herd of elephants (your bacteria) who have staked their claim to the watering hole, and the lions are kept at bay.
To fight infections that can seriously reduce the quality of your life, we need to encourage a healthy microbiome. But how do we do this? We cannot talk to bacteria and discover what they want, so communication with these important creatures has to be done in another way. The way we do this is through the food we eat. If we suspect an imbalance in the microbiome, we can remove foods from our diets that are known catalysts and reintroduce them over time. Measuring the way our bodies react is a simple scientific method that enables us to ‘hear’ what our microbiome is telling us.
As a general rule of thumb, encouraging healthy microbiata improves the immune system, and improving the immune system encourages healthy microbiata. It’s a wonderfully symbiotic relationship! Ensuring we get enough Vitamins D and C are important for healthy microbiome, as is getting enough sleep and staying hydrated; but if you are living the Natural Point way, you do this already, right?
Choosing healthy food and lifestyle options is a great way to optimise your microbiome, which in addition to regulating your immune system can also defend against diabetes and manage your weight. The best part is that supporting your microbiome is not difficult, but it does entail some proactive planning to put together a system that works for you.
A Healthy Microbiome Helps Prevent Disease
Eating the right foods is essential for healthy gut flora, and healthy gut flora are essential for us. Intolerances to foods are directly linked to the happiness of our stomach bacteria, so it makes great sense to identify them. At Natural Point we are qualified to perform Food Intolerance Tests to discover how your gut flora behave. While we humans are 99.9% identical to each other on a genetic level, the microbiomes of two people can be up to 90% different!