Did you know you have more microbial cells than human cells in your body?
Yes! You are made of mostly bacteria, yeasts and other organisms! And that’s not just a little bit more! You have over a hundred trillion organisms in your gut!
Recent research shows us that our bodies are made of 90% microbes and only 10% human cells!
Our human cells are much larger than the microbial cells, so our mass is mostly human. We look like people and not like bugs!
Think of it …… if 90% of our cells are microbial, shouldn’t we be ptting lots of attention on those cells when working on improving our health?
The answer is yes. That 90% of DNA and cell mass in your body is alive and active and doing something to the remaining 10% of your human cells. The question is…. Is it doing something good or bad to your human cells?
The answer lies in which types of bacteria and micro-organisms you have, and in what percentages.
You’ll find most of these bacteria and micro-organisms in your large intestine. They also live in your small intestine, but to a lesser extent.
You should have about 4 pounds of bacteria and yeasts, which is about the size and weight of a brick.
Many people have an overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeasts, contributing to numerous health problems.
What kind of problems would you have if you have imbalanced gut flora?
Low energy can happen from yeast or candida overgrowth. You feel excessively tired, and even foggy with your thinking.
Cravings. Yes, lots of sugar and carb cravings because those unhealthy bacteria and organisms prefer sugar to eat. If you cut back on carbs and sugar, your body protests with cravings because the bad gut bacteria and yeasts are not getting their sugar fix. The cravings feel like you cannot control them.
Depression and anxiety due to the lack of B vitamins and feel good neurotransmitters. Did you know your good bacteria make B vitamins and that neurotransmitters are made right in your gut when you have plenty of good bacteria?
Osteoporosis and bone density problems and possible heart disease. Your good bacteria make vitamin K2 which is responsible for helping the calcium you eat or take as supplements get deposited into bone and not deposited into your arteries.
Irritable bowel syndrome where you alternate between constipation and diarrhea.
Chrohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel conditions
Vaginal yeast infections
Excema, rashes and other skin problems
Leaky gut which leads to food sensitivities and can eventually lead to auto-immune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, sjogrens syndrome, fibromyalgia and more.
You are more prone to colds, flu and other viruses. Because of leaky gut, your immune system is already compromised, making you vulnerable to catch colds.
Autism has been shown to improve or even disappear when gut bacteria are optimized.
Any condition affecting thinking, including alzheimers and dementia…. Any issue with your brain and your nervous system is affected by the status of your gut bacteria.
How did the bacteria get imbalanced?
- Eating too much sugar, which feeds the bad bacteria and helps to grow yeast.
- Taking antibiotics. Could even happen with one course of antibiotics. But if you’ve been taking antibiotics for years, it’s a given you have poor gut health.
- Getting food poisoning
- Environmental toxins hamper the ability of your good bacteria to grow and divide at the rate they should be dividing.
How does imbalanced gut flora can cause trouble like depression and anxiety?
Did you know the gut has been commonly called “The Second Brain”. Interestingly, the gut and brain originated from the same embryonic tissue. As the embryo grows, the brain and the gut differentiate into different tissues, but they started as the same cell and tissue type!
As the gut differentiated itself from the brain, it developed its own own nervous system. Researchers found that if you sever the nerves running from the brain to the gut, the gut still works. You still have peristalsis and you still digest and process food. That nervous system is called the “enteric nervous system”.
In the case of the gut, the nerve cells there tell your intestine to contract, so you can poop. They also tell it to relax, so you don’t poop.
Another reason the gut is called the second brain is because it makes about 95% of your neurotransmitters. And what exactly is a neurotransmitter?
Examples of neurotransmitters would be serotonin and dopamine. Your beneficial gut bacteria actually make these neurotransmitters. Most are even stored in the gut, and about 5% travel to and work in the brain, connect to brain receptors, and make you feel good!
When you feel depressed, you have a lack of neurotransmitters, especially serotonin. When you lack serotonin, most people get cravings to eat carbs. Carbs and sugar makes you feel better because they bind to the same areas in your brain and create a serotonin or dopamine output, and you feel better.
This is an issue for many, many people. Realize that you are reaching for the sugar to feel better, and there is nothing wrong with feeling better.
However, it will be more beneficial for you if you address the underlying problem of a lack of serotonin or dopamine…understanding now that the lack of serotonin or dopamine can come from imbalanced gut bacteria.
The link between your gut health and your brain should help explain the link between disorders such as ADHD, autism, depression, anxiety, and imbalanced gut flora.
For example, gluten intolerance is frequently a feature of autism, and many autistic children will improve when following a gluten-free diet.
Another example would be someone’s depression clearing up after they improved their gut microbial balance.
What do we do to address the problem of imbalance gut flora?
The entire key here is to choose foods and supplements that have the type of bacteria that make it through your stomach alive, adhere to your intestinal wall AND proliferate.
Before we get into specifics about how to populate your gut with good organisms, let’s divert a bit and speak about the power of your thoughts on your gut micro-organisms.
Researchers have found that the mental and emotional influences or perceptions of the environment and belief systems can literally change our DNA. This falls under the category or study of “epigenetics”.
What is “epigenetics”?
You know you have your own DNA, your own genetic code you are born with. That does not change. It’s yours forever. However, there is something called an “epigenome” which sits “above” the genome itself…. epi means above.
The fascinating part of this is that you can change your epigenome. You can do things in your life that will turn various genes on and off.
This is amazing news because it means that even if you were born with a particular gene for a disease, your lifestyle choices can actually turn that gene off and you won’t get the disease.
Just because you have the genetic code does not mean that gene will turn on and express itself.
Eating foods rich in phytonutrients is one of the best ways to turn off bad genes.
Eating processed foods, sugar and damaged fats all turn on the bad genes.
Believe it or not, researchers have found that even the thoughts you think change your epigenome. They’ve found that your thoughts are even more powerful than other lifestyle elements at turning genes on an off.
Thinking bad thoughts is harmful for your epigenome.
Thinking good thoughts is highly beneficial for your epigenome!
Researchers have found that certain types of microbes will proliferate based on the stress and emotional state of the individual.
Think happy thoughts… grow happy bugs. Think unhappy thoughts… grow a different set of bugs.
Sounds impossible right? But remember that there are 100 trillion microbes in the gut and 100 million neurons embedded in the gut wall. The gut, remember, is called the second brain and will continue to function even when its neurons are severed from the brain. So we probably shouldn’t underestimate the power of our bugs.
Let’s attempt to populate the gut with bacteria and yeasts that have good probability of making it safely through the stomach acid, the liver bile and the pancreatic enzymes alive. We also need the organisms to adhere to the intestinal wall AND we need the organisms to proliferate.
Speaking of ability to proliferate, it’s interesting to note that your healthy, good bacteria have the ability to replicate extremely quickly. Many can reproduce up to 1 million times in eight hours.
However, even though the good bacteria have this great ability to replicate quickly, researchers have found that they do not grow this quickly when toxins, chemicals, sugar and processed foods are in the gut.
Previous studies have confirmed that what you eat alters the composition of your gut flora. Eating a high-vegetable, fiber-based diet produces a profoundly different composition of gut flora than a more typical diet high in carbs, processed foods and damaged fats.
So before even considering populating your gut with beneficial bacteria, you must clean up your diet. You can see it would not be helpful to take probiotics along with sugar and processed foods because they would have a very difficult time proliferating in that environment.
What do we do? How do we fix this problem?
The first is to start eating a variety of fermented and cultured foods. This would include unpasteurized fermented vegetables and cultured kefir. Tempeh, kimchee and natto would be included here.
Yogurt is actually not on the top of our list. We recommend non-dairy sources unless you have access to organic, raw goat or cows milk. However, unpasteurized, cultured organic cream could be a good option.
Make your own fermented vegetables. Watch the video on this bog to learn how. It’s something everyone can do inexpensively and quickly.
If you want to purchase a product, look for Tula’s CocoKefir. In Minneapolis we can find it in the local coops. They do distribute nationally and you could also order it online. Tula’s CocoKefir is fermented coconut water. You can also make this yourself, but it’s a lot of work, and not cheap to make yourself!
Beware of buying any kefir or other product with added fruit and sugar. You also don’t want a pasteurized product. The enzymes and most all the bacteria are dead. That’s one benefit of making your own. You choose the bacteria you put in and you know it’s alive.
Eat a variety of fermented foods to maximize the variety of organisms you’re getting.
Fermented veggies are a great source of vitamin K2 if you ferment your own using the starter culture with the right bacteria and yeast. When the right culture is used, a serving of 2-3 ounces of veggies has about 10 trillion beneficial bacteria, but also has about 500 mcg of vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is critical for assuring your calcium gets deposited into your bones and not your arteries.
You will want to look for certain strains of bacteria and yeast in the culture starter you choose for your fermented foods or in the probiotic supplements you choose to take.
Look for Lactobacillus plantarum. It’s a bacteria shown to safely transit the GI tract and adhere to the intestinal wall. Lactobacillus plantarum is found in the special culture we use to make the fermented vegetables. It’s a product by Body Ecology. You can purchase it at the studio or find it online at www.bodyecology.com.
Bifido lactis survives the GI tract and also adheres to the gut wall. The whole name is Bifidobacterium lactis or (HN019). We have this bacteria in a product called UltraFlora Spectrum by Metagenics at the studio.
Look for Saccaromyces boullardii, which is actually a yeast. It’s has been shown to restore and maintain healthy gut ecology in both the small and large intestines. It helps kill and eliminate the bad bacteria and yeast but it also helps supports the growth of restoration of the healthy organisms. We don’t see this yeast listed in the organisms of the fermented foods we eat. Instead we recommend a special pro-biotic capsule that contains S. boullardi. It’s called Ultra Flora Acute Care by Metagenics. This product is especially helpful if you get food poisoning or have acute gi distress. We also have it I another product called UltraFlora Spectrum. This would be more of an ongoing pro-biotic you would take.
Arabinogalactin is a different sort of substance. It’s a soluble fiber that supports the growth of a healthy and diverse gut flora. It’s actually a pre-biotic. It’s not an organism itself. It’s something that supports the probiotics to grow. We have arabinogalactan here at the studio in a product called Immune Plus by Wellness Resources.
In addition to adding the fermented and cultured foods to your diet, you’ll need to avoid certain things as well.
For instance, foods to avoid include not only sugar and processed foods, but genetically engineered foods especially corn and soy which are the most harmful to your good bacteria. These foods are engineered to act on bacteria and microorganisms. Remember that you are 90% bug. You don’t want to ingest foods that attack your own bacteria.
Your beneficial gut bacteria can be harmed by chlorine and fluoride, so filter your water and avoid fluoride.
Antibiotics kill your gut bacteria. Only take if absolutely necessary.
Antibacterial soaps kill your good bacteria along with the bad. Avoid them. After years of anti-bacterial assault and our war on bacteria, many of the 10,000 possible strains of good bugs that can should be in our bodies creating health simply do not exist anymore.
Now, go and start your batch of fermented veggies!