How To Build A Better Microbiome
There is a lot of noise out there about specific strains of bacteria and their pros and cons, with the implication being that in order to heal one condition you need to focus on one kind and to heal another condition you need to focus on a different one. Frankly, we can’t really say that yet, because the science is still in it’s infancy. That being said, there are some pretty basic things you can do to help insure a healthy gut. And it doesn’t mean buying more supplements!
Go back and make sure you’re born vaginally and not by C-section. Ok, you can’t do that, but it is true that kids born vaginally get colonized by Mom’s bacteria, which helps to inoculate their gut. If you have to be born by C-section, then ask someone to wipe some of Mom’s vaginal secretions all over your skin as you cuddle for the first time. It works!
Next, skip all those antibiotics you got for childhood ear infections. They don’t work, and they do a lot of damage. And later, don’t take antibiotics for what is just a simple viral illness. Your doc wants you to think they did something for you because we like to be helpful, and will often offer you these and/or steroids when you don’t really need them. One round of antibiotics will change your gut microbiome and it’s estimated to take at least 6 months to get it back to normal, even when you’re really trying!
Get outside and play in the dirt. Have pets. Visit farms often. And throw away antibacterial wipes and gels. We’re supposed to be colonized by lots of various bugs, and getting dirty is one of the best ways to get there. Chronic use of antibacterial wipes, gels, etc, can lead to formation of really odd bacteria in your microbiome, as the more common ones get killed off and leave room for others.
Next, how to eat: more fiber! Fiber doesn’t get absorbed in the small intestine, but remains in your colon to feed the bacteria there. Makes them happy, so eat more. The best sources will surprise you: focus on beans, blackberries and most veggies. These are much better sources of fiber than grains. Don’t be fooled! Also, focus on eating a wide variety of foods. We all tend to have a small handful of veggies and grains that we eat all the time. Most studies show that microbe variety increases with a wider variety of foods —each bug likes different things, so that makes sense. One of the easiest ways to increase what you’re exposed to is to try a new food each week. At the farmer’s market, ask questions about how to prepare something you’ve never tried before. Trust me, folks love to show off what good cooks they are!
Fermented foods and drinks are also a good insurance policy. In every known human civilization, there have been some form of fermented foods consumed (except our own culture, actually!). So experiment with kombucha, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and other fermented veggies. It doesn’t take a lot, even just a few spoonsful each day will do the trick. (I have kombucha with lunch each day, as it’s easy).
Sugar and unhealthy fats promote the growth of abnormal bacteria, so focusing on eating cleanly will help avoid this. Also be careful: if you eat a meat-heavy diet, you’ll be promoting the wrong kind of bacteria. This is true even if the animal protein is fish or chicken; it’s ok to eat some, but be sure that you’re eating at least 50% veggies by the end of the day. Be careful about drinking too much alcohol as well; heavy drinkers have very low diversity of microbes.
So it’s not rocket science. It’s mostly the same old advice that helps fix so many other ills as well! As usual, our moms and grandmas were right!
Happy Summer Solstice!
Enjoy these long days of light, as the sun moves away from us once again. Don’t worry, we won’t notice for quite awhile. I don’t even need to carry a light with me in the morning when I walk the dogs these days. Probably good til late August! But please, stop to stand on your back deck each night and listen to the birds. Notice the fading light on the trees. It’s fleeting.
Just a heads up that the USA will experience a solar eclipse on Monday, August 21st in the afternoon. Our area will be about a 50% eclipse; 100% will occur down in Eastern Tennessee and south from that. Likely we’ll never see this again in our lifetime, so I’m heading south to see it…….
- July’s Food Group (7/11/17)….topic isn’t strictly about food. In fact, not at all! We’ll be making vision boards after we share our meal. If you’ve never done this, it’s a way to let your subconscious speak out about what’s really important in your life. Things to bring: scissors, glue sticks, magazines you haven’t recycled yet. I’ll bring sheets of paper or poster board. After we meditate a bit, you’ll go through the magazines, pulling out images that appeal to you. Don’t use your calculating brain for this! Then, you’ll arrange the images on the sheets and see what you’ve created. We’ve done this before, and I always find it amazing. Come join the fun and see what the summer and the future have in store for you! Free, and fun. Why not???
- Laurie Van Valkenburgh is now available 2 days a week at the office! She’s expanded her hours to both Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so now is a great time to experience shiatsu / shin tai. Plus whatever else she has up her sleeves—she’s a woman of many talents! To read more about her: click here
- Heads up! The office will be offering infra-red sauna starting in August! I’m totally excited about this, as I’ve been planning this for years. Infra-red saunas help promote sweating, obviously, which helps rid the body of lots of chemicals. Plastics, heavy metals, PCB’s, other environmental pollutants, all are expelled via sweat. A quick 30 minutes in the sauna helps your body do it’s job of cleansing, so plan now to fit this into your schedule. We’ll probably also be offering packages that include the use of a Biomat or Bemer, both of which use electromagnetic or crystal waves to promote cellular oxygenation and healing. More details to come in the near future.