What makes you, you?
For years I thought it was some combination of the two. Another possibility looks more interesting.
“You” Aren’t Human
I have news for you.
If you go by data and numbers, you’re more the very thing you kill with hand sanitizers.Your body contains 10X more microbes than human cells. Click To Tweet
And that’s a good thing.
No matter what you think of the recent kombucha-fueled probiotic craze, scientists everywhere have taken a keen interest in the contents of your gut microbiome.
Superpowers of Your Gut Microbiome
I’ll let you in on a little secret.
You’re only as healthy as your gut.
What do I mean?
Veggies to protein: Vegetarians usually lack adequate dietary amino acids. Gut bacteria and enzymes extract more protein from the food than their omnivorous counterparts. No waste.
Unlock gluten: If you enjoy grains, thank your microbes. You couldn’t break down the proteins in modern wheat without them.
Control your personality: Bacteria in your gut regulate brain chemicals associated with anxiety, fear, and nervousness.
Produce neurotransmitters: Half your dopamine and 95% of your serotonin come from the gut.
Vitamin factory: With the right fuels, your body can produce every vitamin you need to live.Your gut microbiome adapts you to foreign environments. It's the bridge between you and the natural, outdoor world. Click To Tweet
Adapting in real-time to any environment comes at a cost.
Two Steps to Gut Mastery
You now know a lot:
- You can’t see them, but microbes control your health.
- Your gut is the middleman between you and your environment. It controls how fast you adapt.
- Microbes in your gut act as mini alchemists — crafting raw ingredients into biochemicals.
And that this intricate, mysterious system is fragile…
It’s not all ominous.
Typical “healthy” foods, activities, and environments build your perfect microbiome.
Stress, diet, nature, petroleum-based skincare products, and every component of your daily routine helps or hurts your gut microbiome.
1. Eliminate Microbe Killers
Working on the gut without removing lifestyle kryptonite is like filling a bottomless bucket.
Or driving with one foot firmly on the brake.
My rule of thumb: the more disconnected from our natural environment, the worse for the microbiome.
- All-day (and night) stress? Bad
- Oxidized and genetically engineered industrial vegetable oils? Bad
- Artificial chemicals and product additives? Bad
- Hybridized and processed wheat-based snacks? Bad
- Glyphosate-laden produce? Bad
- Bacteria-killing sanitizer? Bad
- Overusing antibiotics? Bad
- And the list continues…
You’re human. Stress is part of life. So is conventional food. The more of those boxes you tick though, the more your microbes feel they’re in grave danger.
And how do you react when you’re in danger?
Control a few lifestyle variables and you’re ready for everyone’s favorite: building up your microbiome.
2. Build Your Colonies
Time for restoration, regeneration, and long-term maintenance.
Here’s what we’ll cover in the home stretch:
- Why you should spend extra for real, clean, organic food. The so-called “dirty dozen” are the most important to get organic.
- Two favorite food groups of the microbiome.
- Gut health beyond the kitchen.
I brushed off organics as a ripoff.
For most of my life.
Food is more than calories, carbs, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Food conveys information in tiny little molecules that survive digestion and make their way into circulation.
Every bite of food sends microRNA into your bloodstream, flipping certain genes on and off.
You either send pristine, healing information or abnormal dys-information. The cleaner the food you can get, the better the information. Seek out:
- Locally sourced
*Applicable to animal products
On to the shopping.
Gut Boosting Foods
Anything that comes from the earth probably helps.
Two food classes make the best gut fuel.
Prebiotics: Unlike probiotics, prebiotics are a form of carbohydrate that your body cannot break down on its own. Instead, the microbes feast. This is one reason researchers like well-formulated plant-based diets: an abundance of prebiotic foods. Add some of these to your shopping list:
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Green bananas
Fermented: Not quite alive, and not quite dead, fermented foods harbor all kinds of unique compounds. There’s a reason they’re a staple in most cultures around the world.
- Coconut kefir
- Beet kvass
- Coconut yogurt
- Pickles (raw)
Know these things about fermented foods:
- Heat kills the beneficial bacteria. It only takes 115°F.
- Pasteurization also kills the microbes. Check the packaging.
- Sugar sneaks into these products. Look for no sugar added.
More isn’t always better.
For a few months, I went overboard and drank three or four cups of kombucha daily. Along with other prebiotics and fermented foods. I didn’t feel good until I cut back.
Check out the guide I put together on the risks of probiotic supplements and their best alternatives.
Other Great Ways To Improve the Gut Microbiome
These things can make a big difference.
Bedtime disruption can alter your circadian rhythm and shift the population in your gut.
Nature is among the best things you can do for the gut according to vast amounts of research and the book Healthy Gut, Healthy You. The perfect excuse to go outside and get your 10,000 steps per day. If you can find them, read next to a fern. They’re a sign of good microbial diversity.
Soil beats nature. By a landslide (pun intended). There’s a reason kids play in the mud and animals roll around in the stuff. It is extremely rich in microbes:
- One cup of yogurt can contain up to 500 billion cfu.
- One gram of soil can contain almost 10 trillion cfu.
Shift Your Health in Record Time
You can improve your gut right now, or you can sabotage your health.
Choice by choice. It’s simple in concept:
- Remove the modern lifestyle stressors.
- Add the right foods.
- Live more in accordance with nature.
Your gut microbiome is capable of the extraordinary. But is also fragile.
For the most part, it’s a black box. This much is clear:
You can ace everything else, but your gut microbiome right holds a key to your wellness on a deep cellular level.