This subject has me enthralled and I believe as many leading health care professionals do that the micro-biome is the future of medicine.
For a nice little introduction to the human micro-biome check the following link / video The Human Ecosystem
I confess I am just getting up to speed with this subject but my main interest is in the micro-biome flora of the gut. We also have micro-biome on our skin and I suspect elsewhere but I’m on a steep learning curve here so excuse any inaccuracies I may blog down.
So a little known fact that has escaped my knowledge until of late is that 70% of our immune system sits inside out gestational tract! (The gut micro-biome flora ) Which is just as well when you consider your gut after your skin is the largest space exposed to the outside world.
Our bodies have millions of microbes all working in symbiosis. Our microbe community apparently exceeds the complexity of our DNA by some orders of magnitude and govern every aspect of our existence. From digestion and energy conversion to how we think and feel! Some studies have shown that simple dirt and its accompanying bacteria can act as an antidepressant!
Unfortunately with the advent of antibiotics, whilst these life saving drugs have enabled us to survive and overcome devastating infections they come with a price! That being the genocide of our gut bacteria, with this knowledge and the fact that anti biotics have been given out like candy you can start to appreciate that many of us are walking around effectively crippled by the missing good bacteria from our guts.
There are some thoughts to relate such absence or imbalance of bacteria in the gut to issues such as gluten intolerance which appears to be a wholly western disease. Ask a Chinese person about gluten intolerance in you will probably get a peculiar look, they consume gluten (seiten) as a main part of some of their meals! go figure! Further research is factoring in acne, asthma, autism, autoimmune disease, cancer, IBS and malnutrition (check here for more info Microbiome and Disease)
Never fear there are ways to restore or rather re-establish this good bacteria as well as maintain it for greater health benefits. These come in the flavours of fermented foods and drink. On the drink side don’t start rushing for the vodka and tonics – though a bottle of home brew beer made with original hops wouldn’t be a bad thing. More main stream foods are yoghurt but make sure it has live cultures in it, Kefir which originally comes from turkey and Russia which is a fermented grain which for example can be added to coconut milk for a kefir yoghurt. Kimchi which is a Korean fermented plant which I have heard can be good and bad – apparently too much of it means too much salt which is bad for the stomach but the occasionally kimchi should be fine (I had some today!) Sauerkraut, Miso, Tempe are a few more – to read a fuller listing with more expansive descriptions check Fermented Foods
So of late I have an addition to my whole food plant based diet and that is to consume one or two of these foods a day. What about probiotic pills from the health food shop or from your pharmacy? well personally I have had good and no results with these and I am reliable told you should mix them up. Your microbiome is unique to you, I am sure there is overlap with your fellow human but what works for you may not work for another and thats just the tip of how fascinating this subject starts to get. The uniqueness of your microbiome may one day be used like a finger print and from this perhaps a cocktail of fermented foods and or laboratory bred cultures will be prescribed to you to provide you optimum health.
I am sure this will not be my last post on this subject but I think it is the longest post so far on my blog which is demonstrable of my huge interest. I have a gut feeling this is the future (groan!!)