Today we’re going to talk about what I think is one of the next frontiers in our understanding of the human body and how we comprehend our health which is our microbiota, but let me clear something up to begin with –

The microbiota is the 100 trillion bacteria that live within our gut and sort of function symbiotically with us.

The microbiome technically refers to all of the genetic material within that microbiota.

The medical community and scientists are just beginning to get a broader and better understanding of how the microbiota influences our health. It includes everything from working synergistically with our immune system to an impact on our metabolism. This includes influencing things like whether or not we are over weight. Although the research and our understanding is not complete yet, it is very, very intriguing.

To give you an example, we do know that when a woman gets pregnant her microbiota shifts, her gut flora as we might refer to it, the bacteria inside of her gut, shifts such that she absorbs more calories from the foods that she eats. Why is that? Because she eats extra calories to support the fetus growing inside of her. So for some women, who might have put some weight on while they were pregnant, and as I have heard many times in my practice, had difficulty loosing the weight after the pregnancy, sometimes even years later, perhaps that microbiota never shifted back to a healthy state. This is where some of the research is going.

What we do know, is that having a healthy gut flora, a healthy balance of bacteria in the stomach is one of the keys to being healthier overall.

We’ve prepared some foods to show you the types of nutrients that will support a healthy microbiota.

Some of the things that can effect the microbiota in a negative way –

  • Medications like antibiotics and over the counter drugs like Motrin
  • Poor sleep can effect the microbiota
  • Stress
  • Drinking water that’s chlorinated
  • Processed foods and foods that contain chemicals, like artificial coloring
  • The overconsumption of alcohol

Foods and nutrients that have a positive effect on the microbiota include

  • Vegetables with plenty of fiber
  • Fermented foods like Kimchi (Korean marinated cabbage)

One of the things we’ve tried is a Dandelion green salad. Dandelion is a natural diuretic and it has a lot of fiber. But we still don’t know exactly what to do, to get our microbiota back into a healthy state. We do know that diet has an important impact.Β  Some nutrients have a pre-biotic effect, like garlic, which helps bacteria grow and to thrive. There are also probiotics in supplement forms that you can take.

One of the drinks my wife Laurice loves is Fire Cider, which is an apple cider vingar thatΒ  has turmeric, pepper, onions and oranges.Β  The great thing about products like these is that although we don’t have proof that they actually do anything for the microbiota, they aren’t going to do any harm.

The challenge is, there isn’t going to be any company that is going to spend the money on a big study to prove the benefits.

Everything that I have been writing and talking about is experimentation and I encourage you along your wellness journey to try new foods, exercise and methods as you become an expert on your health.

Written by Dr. Adam Perlman

I am the Co-Founder of Synchronicity. Founder and Director of the Leadership Program in Integrative Healthcare at Duke University.

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