Our current eating habits and ability to digest our foods are making us sick.
We’ve been hearing for decades we should eat healthy food. And what we’re hearing now is the same, but with a twist: it’s all about the health of our intestines.
It turns out we’re more bacteria than we are human: they weight about 1.5kg / 3.5pds which is about as much as our brains. In fact, bacterial cells outnumber ours by 10 to 1. And if you’re talking genes, bacteria contribute a hundred times as many genes as our genomes. So when you think about it, they’re not really OUR bacteria, we’re THEIR humans.
The premise in a nutshell is that is you eat good food then you’ll have good bacteria in your intestines; eat bad food and you can probably guess. Our gut bacteria have an enormous effect on our health. We can extend our lifespan years, if not decades, with a healthy diet (and healthy bacteria you feed with it).
Most of us think of bacteria as nasty but they’re actually a big part of our health; they’re a big part of us! And the bacteria inside us control our immune system: they produce molecules that control our immune response. Gut bacteria technically educate our immune system: it necessarily needs contact with the outside world. And the part of our body with most exposure to the outside would is our gut which has two hundred times more surface area than our skin (which would be my first thought for biggest contact!). Like our bodies our bacteria and our immunity need exercising. They need to be challenged; they need to react.
Throughout our digestive strength training (link) we’ve learned a lot about the importance of whole food, the physical process of digestion and that 70% of our immune system are actually inside our gut. That makes our food and our assimilation pretty important! In a quick review, you eat food and it enters your stomach, moves to your small intestines where most nutrients start moving into your body, if everything’s going well. After everything useful has moved out, wastes travel to your large intestine. Interestingly your large intestine has almost no blood supply, rather it has colonies of bacteria inhabiting the 7m long sausage shaped structure. They eat a lot of our wastes and then produce loads of the vitamins our bodies need for daily functions. It’s all digestion.
The gut bacteria story begins at our beginnings – through our mother’s birth canal and then breastfeeding. Like inheriting a gene, you can inherit your mums bacteria. Call it the birth gift of immunity, your foundational health. Then, just as many species in a mangrove live together in harmony as an ecosystem, so do the species in our intestines. The gut ecosystem is called the microbiome and, like any ecosystem, it’s tipped out of balance if the creatures in it don’t get their fundamental foods. If you eat a bad diet, you end up with bad gut bacteria, and these bugs send the wrong messages to the immune system. So technically we’re destroying our own ecosystem when we’re eating bad food. We’re making our bugs sick and in turn they’re making us sick. It’s a jungle in us, and we’ve got to keep it in balance.
So what we eat is pretty important, and digesting that is even more so. But making sure we know what should be bugging you could turn out to help prevent disease, help us live longer and healthier, and all simply by changing our diet.
Ways you can help your gut bacteria:
- Intervene your sugar, heal your gut and enhance your digestion
- Continue to focus on optimizing your digestion, daily
- Take a probiotic like Prescript Assist, Metagenics, Innate Response, Bio-Cult, Gut-Pro and Custom Probiotics. The type of probiotic, whether it is a food source or a strong culture in powder or capsule form, will depend on severity of your gut microbial over growth.
- Make your own prebiotics. These are all essential especially if the majority of your foods are cooked. Use lacto-fermented (enzyme-enhanced) or a cultured/pickled side dish to help aid digestion. Try sauerkraut, tomato ketchup, beet kvass. They are so easy to make yourself, and inexpensive.
For more information, look out for eBook Eating well on the Run. Coming soon.