Updated: Jan 30
There are whole groups of small creatures that are relying on you for their growth and potential. No, I'm not talking about your kids. I'm talking about your microbiota. You know, your microbiome...the hundreds of trillions of friendly bacteria, viruses, protozoa and fungi that live in your body in a symbiotic relationship. We are taught to fear bacteria and viruses because they make us sick, but that's not these guys. These friendly little microscopic critters form an intelligent barrier system in our gut (they let the good in and keep the bad out), help us with our immunity and metabolism, and make some of our vitamins (Vitamin K, B12, thiamine, and riboflavin). Cool, right?
Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet does not give these guys their best chance of survival. It lacks diversity, is low in fiber, has too much sugar, grains and carbohydrates. If the diet lacks diversity, so does the microbiota. If there is dysfunction in the gut, it can lead to or exacerbate all sorts of chronic diseases, like diabetes, auto-immune disorders, mood disorders, skin disorders, chronic allergies, etc. The list keeps growing as more research is done on the gut and its connection to the different body systems.
So, what are some things you can do to grow a robust civilization? Increase your food diversity with fresh fruits and vegetables (eat the rainbow), include fermented foods in your diet, increase dietary fiber and plant-based carbohydrates, get tested for food sensitivities, and limit foods grown with pesticides, antibiotics or hormones. Stress also plays a role in gut health. So take mini-breaks throughout the day to balance stress and have recovery periods. Make sure you are getting adequate sleep. Get out into nature and expose yourself to new diverse microorganisms. Consider taking a diverse probiotic with at least 2 lactobacilli and 2 bifidus species.
Be kind to your civilization and they will reciprocate!