Your Microbiome: Eating for ten trillion

You have a fantastic and wonderful microbiome, or personal ecosystem of beneficial bugs, which means that you are in fact eating for ten trillion. While ten trillion helpful friends seems like a rather large dinner party, these good bacteria and other critters are busy constantly strengthening your immune system, helping you to digest your food and manufacturing vitamins in your gut as well as strengthening your skin and mucosal barriers by defending their turf from invaders.  If you’re a little fuzzy on the whole microbiome concept then here is more information about your own personal microbiome. Given everything that your good bacteria are doing for you, it makes sense to add some microbiome-friendly foods into your diet.




Simple Foods that Protect Your Good Bacteria – The  Microbiome Maximizing Diet:

  1. Breast Milk! Yeah –  probably not. But it’s a good option to give your babies because human breast milk is chock full of not only beneficial microbes that help baby to build a good microbiome, but also complex carbs (oligosaccharides) and glycosolated proteins that your baby can’t break down or digest.  But guess who can? Beneficial bacteria in the Bifidobacterium species. These Bifidobacterium buddies actually help coat and defend the babies growing intestinal tract. While it’s a little odd, breast milk is being used as an experimental treatment for some forms of intestinal disease in adults as well.
  2. Prebiotics. You may have heard this term before, probably from a supplement or on your probiotic bottle.  Prebiotics are actually specific carbohydrates, especially fibers, that are the preferred food for different strains of beneficial organisms in your digestive tract.  Just to review, the largest group of gut bacteria lives in your ascending colon, which connects to your small intestine and runs up the right side of your abdomen.  It is here that a fermentation process takes place.  In this fermentation process prebiotics are gradually changed and release different end-products that feed flora in a beneficial way. Prebiotics include inulin, galactooligosaccharide, and many other long-named substances which can be conveniently lumped into the much more pronounceable category of fiber.  Eating a diet high in fiber, fruits and veggies feeds your microbiome and helps your gut to have healthy bacteria and good digestion.

    Awesome wikimedia commons file of your digestive tract. Your ascending colon is where fermentation happens for your microbiome.

    Awesome wikimedia commons file of your digestive tract. Your ascending colon is where fermentation happens for your microbiome.

  3. Cultured Foods.  Foods that have been cultured actually have their own little microbiome – the process of fermenting or culturing food is simply allowing good bacteria to grow and partially digest those foods and give them a fabulous taste in the process. Think yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and cheese. Also there are cultured fruit juice (belly), cultured coconut water (inner eco), and cultured butter (Vermont creamery, organic valley) available.

So the short list is fruits, veggies, fiber and cultured foods.  Easy enough! These simple steps help you to maintain a great immune system, have healthy digestive function, and even maintain normal weight.  Yes – your microbiome can contribute to your body shape too. These are ten trillion friends worth keeping!



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