Whether we realize it or not, each one of us has an individually unique microbial eco-system in AND on us. It’s called a microbiome and its home to over 100 trillion cells. Wowza, sounds like a lot huh? Well that’s because it is. It outnumbers our human cells by about ten to one, actually.
So what in the world are these hundreds of trillions of little microbes doing in there? Well the good little microbes are, for the most part, just hanging out in your gut; supporting your immune system, protecting you from disease, detoxifying your body and possibly even keeping you slim.
Where there is good, there lies some bad also. Yes, there are bad little microbes as well. They play a role in inflammation, obesity, and many chronic diseases according to Dr. Frank Lipman. This is precisely why it’s important for your long term health to maintain gut flora, both good and bad, on an even keel.
I’m going to give you a little insight to some steps of initiation you can take in order to sustain your gut health for years to come:
1. Cool it on the germ phobia 🙂
These days we as humans spend way too much of our time sealed inside. Whether that is a car, home, office, etc. You get the picture. Many of us also cover ourselves in anti-bacterial cleansers, the issue with that is it limits your exposure to a wide variety of microbes. The presence of such microbes in our guts (and skin) has a protective, immunity boosting effect. If you’re a germaphobe type of person, it’s time to combat this sterile way of life and strengthen your immune system. By doing what? Stepping away from the Purell and start exposing yourself to the microbial world!
2. Embrace the great outdoors
Sometimes one of the best and most pleasurable ways to increase your microbial exposure is to simply crack a window or step outside your front door. Welcome them with open arms into your car, home, office, and beyond! The more the merrier for your microbiome. Not only fresh air, but getting a bit dirty, could do you some good. I’m talkin’ like gardening, planting flowers, mowing the lawn – any activity that will connect you and your immune system with the trillions of microbes that reside in Mother Nature’s soil, every now and then.
3. Protect your microbes with probiotics
If you have to take an antibiotic, be sure you are taking a probiotic as well. This will help maintain your gut flora diversity. Even if you don’t take any antibiotics, jump on the probiotic train. You can eat your probiotics as well in the form of good old-fashioned fermented goods (preferably organic). These fermented snacks like sauerkraut, kim chi, Kombucha, and pickled veggies encourage the growth of good bacteria. This keeps your microbiome full of live organisms which aid in digestion, immunity, and overall health.
4. Pick up a plant or two
I know this may come as a surprise… 😉 but plant heavy diets are especially helpful for improving your microbial diversity – because plants give your microbes something to chew on, break down, digest, and extract nutrients from. The little bacteria LOVE this food – but what’s in it for you? Well, a balanced microbiome that’s healthy, strong, and well-armed to fight off chronic health problems, inflammatory conditions, heart disease, cancers, and even dementia, according to Dr. Mercola. So pile on those plants and enjoy!
5. Take as few antibiotics as possible
Antibiotics ruthlessly take out everything in their path, including the good gut flora your body needs to support long-term health. If your doctor prescribes antibiotics, politely ask if they’re absolutely necessary. If the answer is yes, insist on the shortest course possible.