The microbiome — that is the microorganisms living in and on our bodies — is a hot area of research. Today scientists believe that weight, mood, immunity, and even heart health may depend on cultivating helpful microorganisms in your gut.
The organisms that are part of our unique human ecosystem develop and evolve because of many factors and events. When we are born, we acquire bacteria from our mother as we pass through the birth canal. If we are born via C- section, we acquire bacteria from the hospital workers who help deliver us. Which bacteria we acquire can greatly influence our health. Children born via C-section are at a higher risk of developing obesity, mental health problems, asthma, allergies, and autoimmune problems.
Our microbiome grows and changes throughout our lifetime and is a powerful determinant of health or illness. Given the number of bacteria, yeasts, and parasites we have in our bodies, this is no surprise.
The average adult has:
10 trillion human cells
100 trillion bacteria, yeasts, and single cell parasites
These numerous bacteria, yeasts, and parasites are found all over our body, in cold and dry zones such as the skin of our hands, in damp and humid zones like the groin and armpits, and in even warmer and damper internal zones, like our nose, genitals, and gut, all the way from mouth to anus.
Gut bacteria help us digest food and manufacture essential nutrients such as vitamin K2mk7 (made by the bacteria from vitamin K1, which is in the greens we eat). They are also responsible for about 25% of our ability to process and eliminate the toxins we encounter each day.
While we have about 23,000 genes in our human DNA, our microbiome has over 9 million genes, of which 5 million are unduplicated and help us run the chemistry of life. Evidence continues to grow that the greater the diversity of gut bacteria species, the better the health and vitality of the individual.
Analyses of the stool of humans before the dawn of agriculture show that their microbiomes were much more similar to hunter-gatherers who are still eating a traditional diet than today’s urban dwellers. The number of different species living in our gut declined as society shifted from hunter-gatherer to subsistence farmer to urban dweller to chronically ill urban dweller.
Signs of microbiome trouble in children and adults include:
- Born via C-section
- Colic history
- Behavior problems
- Early and/or repeated antibiotic usage
- Constipation (failure to have daily, soft, easily passed bowel movements)
- Mental health problems
- Insulin resistance
- Autoimmune problems
Here are some strategies to improve gut health:
1) Vaginal birth or swabbing C-section babies at birth with vaginal secretions
2) Eat 6 to 9 cups of non-starchy vegetables and berries each day
3) Eat fermented foods with every meal
4) Get a dog
5) Play in the dirt
6) Replace sugar and white flour with vegetables
7) Probiotics for children born via C-section or after antibiotics
8) Eat more organic dirt
9) Eliminate fructose
10) Eliminate artificial sweeteners
We are recruiting patients for a new clinical trial, “Dietary Approaches to Treating MS Related Fatigue.” To learn more about this opportunity email the clinical coordinator, Cathy Chenard. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to learn more about the diet and lifestyle approaches I use to treat autoimmune, neurological, psychiatric, and other health conditions and the clinical trials that we conduct, visit www.terrywahls.com. If you want to dive deeply into the protocol that I use, consider attending the Wahls Protocol Seminar that I teach every August.