I’d like to draw some attention to the gut and its amazing ecosystem of some 500 species of bacteria making their home in something like 2700 square feet of absorptive tubing know as our digestive tract.
A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal highlighted the importance of populating the gut with healthy bacteria at birth. The researchers compared natural vs C-section babies and found significant differences in the variety and number of bacteria in the newborns’ guts. If I recall correctly, C difficile was more prominent in those delivered surgically. They missed getting poop-ulating by their mom’s you know what.
There’s also been some great research on the effects of breastfeeding vs formula feeding and the flora of a new little person.
The lining of the gut is like our skin on the inside. The “thickness” or resiliency of our internal “skin” depends on the balance of good and bad bacteria that dwell in all the crypts and folds of the gut lining. Like our skin, this protective, absorptive surface is also constantly regenerating itself, with new cells coming to the surface every 3 to 5 days. It never stays the same, giving us a tremendous opportunity to constantly improve it by eating good food and good bacteria!
I recently gave my toddler some store-bought coconut yogurt. He loved it, but it was kind of pricey for a regular grocery item. Children could always use a probiotic boost so I endeavored to make my own by saving some of the store-bought stuff and mixing it into a jar of sterilized coconut milk. To sterilize you just heat it on the stove until it starts steaming but not boiling. The jar is sitting on my stove, slightly warm, and I’m going to give it a taste tonight after about 30 hours of culturing. It’s looking pretty good and thick right now so I’m thinking I’ve just saved myself a couple bucks – and maybe a couple bugs!
There are so many other ways to eat your way to a healthier gut microbiome….
The benefits of a healthy gut range from lower risk of obesity and obesity-related diseases, improvements in symptoms of irritable bowel like diarrhea, constipation, gas and bloating, as well as better mental clarity and emotional health. The gut talks to everyone, but especially our nervous and immune systems. There are actually more gut receptors for certain neurotransmitters than there are brain receptors, making it a true second brain. Always trust your gut, eh?
In terms of immunity, there’s just one cell separating the gut cells from immune cells. So, if your gut isn’t strong it’s letting pathogens and other weird things in and your gut-associated immune cells are going to fire up an inflammatory response. That could translate to food intolerances, eczema, brain fog or more complex conditions.
Take-home message: Your gut culture has far-reaching implications for your overall health. If you’d like to know more about eating for your insides, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.