Probiotic, microbiome, gut flora… What is it anyway?
Probiotics are the bacteria that live in our gut with whom we have a symbiotic relationship; they get to live in us and in return they help us with a whole host of things. They help us eliminate waste regularly, create vitamins, detoxify, aid in digestion, help guard against viruses, parasites and unfriendly bacteria, influence our immune system, help our body handle stress, assist in getting good sleep and help control inflammation. Normal gut bacteria also play an important role in diet-related obesity, indicating that obesity may be associated with decreased diversity and changes in the gut bacteria. Thus, gut bacteria is an important determinant of susceptibility to obesity and related metabolic diseases. (1) In summary, these “bugs” are hard at work and keep pretty busy. Scientists estimate that bacteria outnumber our cells 10 to 1 so it’s a good thing they are on our side. (2)
Scientists also believe that 90% of all human illness can be traced back to an unhealthy gut and that happens when the “bad” bacteria (those not on our side) get the upper hand or when the good bugs drop in numbers. (2) For example, mice bred with no gut bacteria experienced undesirable symptoms like acute anxiety, inability to handle stress, chronic gut inflammation, and lower levels of brain growth hormone; not having these little guys around is definitely not something you want to experience! The good news is that even if you aren’t hosting a healthy microbiome right now, that can be changed. How? I’m so glad you asked. It’s easy. Eating a diet that supports the life and proliferation of the good bacteria and discourages the less than beneficial bacteria, like the PHD program, is a great place to start. Start by cutting out all processed and fast foods. Adding fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut can help increase the diversity of good bacteria in our gut. Having a large diversity of bacteria seems to be important and can influence brain behavior and help alleviate stress, anxiety and depression. (3) Who wouldn’t appreciate some help reducing stress? Another thing that helps alleviate stress is exercise and it is also the third thing that can help build good gut bacteria. So there you have it.
- Eat a diet focused on whole foods, low in refined carbohydrates, with a healthy amount of good fats added in,
- Eat fermented stuff, and
- Move your body
Soon you will start reaping the benefits of that symbiotic relationship with bacteria.
(1) Zhang, Yu-Jie et al. “Impacts of gut bacteria on human health and diseases.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 16,4 7493-519. 2 Apr. 2015, doi:10.3390/ijms16047493
(2) Perlmutter, David. Brain Maker. Little, Brown and Company. 2015
(3) Perlmutter, David. Grain Brain . Little, Brown and Company. 2013