Choosing a healthy lifestyle for you and your family may play some role in how your immune system functions, however, there are currently no scientifically proven links between lifestyle and enhanced immunity. The latest research is finding that the balance of your microbiome is of extreme significance to your health and must be heavily considered. Often bacteria is blamed as the cause of illness, rather than as a sign of illness. We should not always be trying to kill off these important microbes, as they are pivotal to our health. Claude Bernard, a physiologist of the 19th century, resolved that the health of the individual was determined by their internal environment. “The terrain is everything,” he wrote; “the germ is nothing.”
Microbes that live on and inside of us, protect us from pathogens simply by taking up space. By occupying spots where bad bacteria could get access and thrive, good microbes are keeping us from getting sick! Microbiologist Dr. Jonathan Eisen explains, “We are covered in a cloud of microbes and these microbes actually do us good much of the time, rather than killing us.” The links between chronic illness and imbalanced gut bacteria keep growing every day.
Our gut is a huge factory of microbes that help digest food, produce vitamins and nutrients, regulate hormones, excrete toxins, tune up the immune system, balance metabolism, regulate brain health/ ward off mood disorders, produce healing compounds and positively affect body chemistry. Understanding the importance of microbes, can not only help keep us healthy but can also prevent obesity.
Did you know Microbes can make us fat or slim? Keeping our gut microbes in balance may be the secret to weight control. Poor microbial health may be leading to an increase in obesity.
Researchers have become convinced that important players in the obesity puzzle are the billions of gut microbes found in our bowels. According to Scientific American, “New evidence indicates that gut bacteria alter the way we store fat, how we balance levels of glucose in the blood, and how we respond to hormones that make us feel hungry or full. The wrong mix of microbes, it seems, can help set the stage for obesity and diabetes from the moment of birth.”
There is reason to believe that we have upset the balance between our microbes and ourselves. The current epidemic of metabolic syndrome and resultant Type II diabetes may be caused by disturbances of the microbial ecosystem in the human gut. Studies have shown insight into how gut bacteria affects our weight. Scientists transferred bacteria from the guts of two strains of mice, (one that naturally becomes obese and one that naturally stays lean) into a lean strain of mice, raised from birth to be bacteria free. Gut bacteria transferred from the naturally obese mice made the germ-free mice become fat, but gut bacteria transferred from the naturally lean mice kept them lean. Scientists also took bacteria from the guts of human identical twins, one who was obese and one who was lean, and transferred those bacteria into the guts of lean, germ-free mice. The results? The bacteria from the obese twin made the mice become fat, but bacteria from the lean twin did not.
Tips to Achieve a Healthy Microbiome:
- Optimal gut balance begins with your diet - Eating a whole food (unprocessed) diet and being vigilant in choosing the kind of foods we eat, how and where they are grown and prepared.
- Get Good Sleep - Poor sleep leads to gut imbalance. It is crucial to get 7-8 hrs of quality sleep/night.
- Manage chronic stress, which also contributes to gut dysbiosis. Practice stress reduction activities daily.
- Make Sure Your Home Microbiome is Healthy - Where you spend most of your time, should have good air quality, free of toxic chemicals and molds. Place houseplants around your home as they can help detoxify the air. Open your windows regularly, letting in fresh air and natural sunlight. Replace harsh cleaning products with natural ones.
- Spend Time in Nature - go for a walk in natural environments which will connect you with environmental microbes.
- Don’t be a Germaphobe (bacteria are are our friends) - Put down the hand-sanitizer (it is full of chemicals and hormone-disrupters anyway). Jonathan Eisen, a microbiologist at the University of California at Davis explains that while hand sanitizer may kill potentially dangerous microbes, they are also altering the communities of beneficial bacteria on the skin. In addition to killing off potentially beneficial bacteria, Eisen says, hand sanitizers could also contribute to antibiotic resistance. “Even though they generally do not contain standard antibiotics, when microbes become resistant to some of the sanitizers this can make it easier for them to be resistant to more important antibiotics.”
- Play in the dirt - There is healthy bacteria in soil that can boost our immune system, as well as provide anti-depressant effects. According to the director of the University of Chicago Microbiome Center, and Rob Knight, director of the University of California Center for Microbiome Innovation, and Authors of, “Dirt is Good,” Kids with dogs, have a 13 percent reduced risk of asthma. Children on farms do better, with a 50 percent reduced risk, they report. “What we’re starting to find out is exposure to natural healthy bacteria in the environment is really important for training our immune system and making sure it doesn’t go really haywire and attack us.” As Knight and Gilbert write, “Get (kids) outside, let them interact with animals, allow them to play in the dirt, rivers, streams, ocean. Don’t sterilize everything they are going to touch or put in their mouth.”
- Add Supplementation - Take high quality probiotic and prebiotic supplements, which reduce gut inflammation and cultivate the health and growth of good bacteria. It is important to rotate the types of probiotics you take from time to time so you get a good variety of different types into your system and don’t get an imbalance of one type of bacteria.Just as our environmental microbial ecosystems are critical to the health of our plants, animals and planet as a whole, our body’s internal ecosystem determines all aspects of our health. We often consider the importance of organic farming practices for the health of our environment but rarely do we think the same way when looking at our internal ecosystems and what is contributing to the health or dysbiosis of our systems. Treating the body by addressing the root causes of illness, through restoring the gut or “the soil of the body,” with beneficial bugs/microbes “probiotics”, and minimizing toxin exposure, promotes optimal conditions for the body to thrive and resist illness and disease.
As a wife and mother of two active little boys, Dr. Taglio understands that life is busy and can easily get out of balance. She knows how important healthy habits are in maintaining a healthy family. She is committed to addressing the whole body and takes a multi-pronged approach to improving the function of the nervous system, by removing nerve interference through chiropractic, addressing nutritional components and incorporating neuromuscular re-education to maintain spinal health and stability. She has made it her mission to help people not only feel great, but also help them reach their highest potential, in whatever their endeavors are. She has a love for children and their healing through chiropractic and nutrition.
The opinions expressed here represent those of the author. California Family Fitness will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. Always consult your physician before beginning any nutrition or exercise program.