Why are bacteria so important?

Why are bacteria so important?!

In recent years, we’ve come to understand that our microbiome – colonies of various microbes that reside in your gut and elsewhere on your body – is as unique to you as your fingerprint, and can be rapidly altered based on factors such as diet, lifestyle, and exposure to toxins and antiobiotics. In fact, researchers now suggest that your microbiome is one of the contributing factors that drive gene expression, turning genes on and off depending on which microbes are present. Importantly, your gut bacteria influence your immune response. The inflammatory response starts in your gut and then travel to your brain, which subsequently sends signals to the rest of your body in a complex feedback loop.

You have around 1,000 different species of bacteria living in your body, and bacteria actually outnumber your body’s cells by 10:1. So your body is actually the home of 100 trillion bacteria! All of these organisms perform a multitude of functions, and need to be properly balanced and cared for in order to maintain good health.

There are no good or bad bacteria per se – potentially harmful microbes only become dangerous when they start to take up a lot of real estate and begin to outnumber the more beneficial ones.

This also means that living in a sterile environment is by no means ideal, as healthy-promoting microbes are adversely affected along with potentially harmful bacteria when we wage war against bacteria with hand sanitizers and antibiotics as a our prime weapons.

Good food for good health:

To support a healthy body, it’s not just about getting specific nutrients from your food; your food also needs to support a healthy microbiome – as it turns out though, foods known for their value to health also tend to promote beneficial gut bacteria.

Examples include:

* Traditionally fermented foods and raw foods; especially those high in fibre.

Certain gut microbes specialise in fermenting soluble fibre found in legumes, fruits and vegetables and the by-products of this fermenting activity help nourish the cells lining your colon. Sugar on the other hand, is a preferred food source for fungi that produce yeast infections.

Strategies to promote a healthy microbiome:

  • Eat plenty of fermented foods. Healthy choices include lassi, fermented grass-fed organic milk such as kefir, natto (fermented soy), and fermented vegetables.

  • Take a probiotic supplement

  • Boost your soluble and insoluble fibre intake, focusing on vegetables, nuts, and seeds, including sprouted seeds.

  • Get your hands dirty in the garden. Germ-free living may not be in your best interest, as the loss of healthy bacteria can have wide-ranging influence on your mental, emotional, and physical health.

If you are interested in finding out in more detail what you can do to create a healthy microbiome, speak to one of our practitioners