Our Microbiome – The Life Within Us!

by | May 3, 2020

Understanding The Use Of Probiotics and the Human Microbiome

Understanding the latest microbial research, we now know how important gut health is for our long-term vitality. It influences our immune system, our metabolism, and even how we think and feel.

With names like Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bacillus coagulans and biological concepts that seem confusing at first glance, you might be left with more questions than answers when it comes to probiotics which are the beneficial bacteria that reside within our digestive tract.  The big question is – “Do I have a healthy gut?”

Still, the science is solid: probiotics can positively affect overall health and day-to-day well-being.

A peek into the past: the human microbiome

For the majority of our existence, humans have been hunters and gatherers, more in some areas of the world and with diets changed with the seasons.  Let’s face it, we divided the world into two groups – 1) edible and 2) inedible. Ever wonder how our ancestors fared without personal medicine cabinets to ease their ailments? While the centuries leading up to our current era were filled with their own set of challenges and were lived quite differently, some of the practices used then actually led to better gut health than we have today.  They were not exposted to xenobiotics.

The father of early microbiome research and therapy.

You see, each person’s bowel contains their own unique microbiome, which houses nearly 100 trillion bacteria that outnumber our human cells by a factor of 10 to 1. Being mostly composed of bacteria might sound a little…odd, but that’s just because many people only think of bacteria as germs that can make us sick. However, that’s actually not the case at all!  Your bowel bacteria either promote your health or can lead to your early death!

Your body is comprised of all kinds of bacteria that have different jobs within your body and most of them are probiotics that serve a beneficial purpose – they can help your body produce vitamins, absorb nutrients from your food, and even help regulate your mood. Probiotic bacteria can also serve as placeholders, taking up room by colonizing within your digestive tract so that other bacteria can’t settle in, multiply, and create chaos for your system.

Our ancestors had fantastically diverse microbiomes. Instead of obsessively cleaning their hands with sanitizer, they spent much of their time outdoors and worked in soil filled with beneficial microorganisms. Rather than popping antibiotics every time they felt under the weather, they used natural healing methods to improve their overall health. They also enjoyed unprocessed and unrefined diets rich in prebiotic foods, one of nature’s ultimate gifts. We are starting to realize that our ancestors’ more natural lifestyles and diets might be big contributors to their more pristine microbiomes.

Feed The Probiotics

Image result for prebiotics

Of course, always choose organic or leave them alone!

Prebiotics are the natural dietary fiber that nourishes our probiotic bacteria, and they come from a plethora of fruits and vegetables that our ancestors likely consumed in large quantities.

We know that the key to any thriving ecosystem is the biodiversity of its residents. Jeff Leach, the founder of the Human Food Project, takes a deep dive into how our microbes keep us well with his pioneering research into the human gut microbiome.

In studying the Hadza hunter-gatherers that live in East Africa (who live outside nearly 24-7 and eat a similar diet to our ancestors), Leach found that the Hadza harbor nearly twice as many gut microbes of those living in westernized areas. The Hadza are exposed to a diversity of microbes from the soil, water, air, animals, and plants, making them incredibly healthy individuals.1 And because these healthy hunter-gatherers aren’t exposed to the same diet, lifestyle, and medicinal applications used in western culture, many scientists posit that the reduced diversity in our gut microbiomes is indeed attributed to modern culture and that we’re steadily weakening our natural defenses.

Our modern lifestyle vs. the microbiome

There is the problem: we might enjoy modern-day inventions like electricity and the internet and benefit from advances in science and medicine, but our current hygienic habits and lifestyle choices are depleting our microbiome at a breakneck speed.

Our industrialized, modern culture isn’t very conducive to maintaining a healthy microbiome once we are in contact with modern conveniences. A study published this year found the highest human microbiome diversity ever seen in an isolated Yanomami tribe that had no contact with the industrialized world, similar to the Hadza hunter-gatherers of Africa.2

When comparing three different groups (Amazonian hunter-gatherers, Andean farmers, and an industrialized population in the U.S.), they found, yet again, that the Americans had significantly less diversity in their microbiomes than the other two groups. Which really shows how life after the Industrial Revolution is changing the foundation of our health.

Infected Food Outbreaks

Food contamination of microbes is an increasing problem in the agri-business

To be fair, we only recently discovered that this world beneath the microscope was so paramount for our health and well-being. In fact, it is getting even more complicated.   exposure to antibiotic resistant and chemical resistant microbes threaten our food delivery system.  This problem was non-existent when we developed our microbiome-depleting cultural habits from our immediate environment.  To make matters worse, because our food is coming from far away places, we are getting exposed to microbes that can be very hazardous to our health as seen by the recent and ongoing outbreaks of lettuce tainted with e. coli grown in Arizona and distributed across the nation!  These outbreaks are occuring in almost daily headlines.  Please learn to eat locally and in season foods by patronizing small farms from farmers markets (go visit the farm) or grow your own.  It is not hard to do if you have a lawn or flower gardens to plant plants you can eat!

Instead of eating fermented and whole foods with healthy prebiotics and spending time outdoors (naturally repopulating our digestive tracts), many of us eat a diet high in processed foods laced with foreign chemicals, spend time indoors at home or at work, and live a high-stress lifestyle. Even if we don’t take antibiotics while we’re sick, both antibiotics and antimicrobials are often unavoidable as they’re present in our food and in our water.

We are only beginning to understand the long-term impact that these cultural habits have on our health. The good news is that your microbiome is malleable – meaning that you can improve your gut health with a few simple changes in your daily routine.

Probiotics to the rescue

Active lactobacillus strains found in a healthy bowel

When it comes to giving your gut a helping hand, probiotics are the best place to start. Probiotics help to restore symbiosis (balance) to your microbiome, which helps keep your body healthy. When your microbiome is in dysbiosis, it means that your microbes aren’t balanced and the bad guys could gain a foothold if you’re not careful.  Shaklee Optiflora Complex and Life Shake with Bacillus coagulans, are top supports for replenishing your bowel flora.  Only take these on the days you want to have a healthy bowel!

The thing is, it can be difficult to obtain a healthy amount of probiotics with your diet alone, especially if you are fortifying your gut environment after a round of antibiotics. Many of the probiotic bacteria you consume through food are destroyed when they reach your stomach acids and never make it through your intestinal tract to colonize and replenish.

An excellent option to get a potent dose of probiotics is taking them in supplement form. But with thousands of different probiotics available on the market, how can you decipher what is best? There are many reasons that probiotics can be ineffective. Here are some basic guidelines that can help you make your choice:

  • Number of strains – research has demonstrated that bacteria prefer to colonize in different parts of your digestive tract, where there are various ecological niches. The more probiotic strains, from supplements and fermented foods, you ingest, the more coverage you’ll provide for each of these niches. Each strain of bacteria also has its own different purpose, so choosing a formula with many different strains gives you that many more benefits.
  • Delivery method – many probiotic supplements are in the form of veggie capsules with probiotic powder inside, which can actually be detrimental to the living flora. The freeze-dried probiotic powder wicks moisture away from the capsule shell, causing many of the bacteria to die off before they even have a chance to help you.
  • Protection – if you want the benefits of probiotic supplementation, you need to make sure that the probiotic bacteria will be protected from your stomach acid on their way to your gut. Otherwise, many of the bacteria will never make it there alive.  This is where the  probiotics  shines.
  • Resident strains – quite a few probiotics on the market contain things like active yeasts or soil based organisms. While these ingredients might help some people, if you want to optimize your gut health, you need to look for strains that are resident to the human gut like those from the Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus families.
  • Shelf Stability – many probiotics sold today are available usually in the refrigerated section of your health food store or are shipped via icepack. Unfortunately, because of temperature fluctuations during shipment, many of the bacteria in these formulas will not be alive when you consume the product. Choosing a shelf-stable formula that can withstand temperature changes will help ensure you get a viable dose of probiotics into your system.  A high protein fiber enriched shake with Bacillus coagulans is a spore forming microbe that has been upgraded from a Lactobacillus (non-spore former) to the acid, temperature and moisture protected culture that acts as a sheep dog to the rest of your healthy flora.

Whether you decide to get your probiotics from food or from a supplement (or both!), it’s critical to understand what you’re ingesting. When you look at a food or supplement label, you will probably notice a list of bacterial strains included in the product. This tells you exactly what type of bacteria you are taking and is where you want to look for an abundance of strains especially from the important Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus families.

Check The Health Of Your Microbiome Today

Incredibly, the human body houses more than 500 different strains of beneficial and not-so beneficiail microbes(with more being discovered all the time). A higher variety of strains leads to better colonization, which is why you want to look for a probiotic with  unique strains. Make sure you get a microbiome bowel culture performed to see what are the dominant species. [highlight] Call Kathy or Kristyl for a home test Extended GI Panel kit today – (503)631-4184.[/highlight]

See the in depth video on the subject of our MICROBIOME AND GUT HEALTH.

Wholesome ~ Fresh ~ Delicious                                                                                                    A Cookbook From The Brouse House

Wholesome ~ Fresh ~ Delicious A Cookbook From The Brouse House

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