12 Months to a Healthier You! (Month 8)
Cultivate Healthy Bacteria
At this very moment there are trillions of bacteria that are living in you and on you. Bacterial cells outnumber our own cells ten to one. In the average adult, this can constitute up to six pounds of your body weight! These bacteria play an important role in supporting good human health.
The relationship that humans have had with bacteria has always been a delicate one. Our ancestors did not have access to refrigeration, and foraged for foods that were fermenting on the forest floor. Therefore, they had constant exposure to bacteria. Because of this, infections were among the leading causes of death for humans prior to the introduction of antibiotics. However, not all bacteria are harmful. Humans developed a mutually beneficial, or commensal, relationship with a variety of strains of bacteria. We are the host, but the bacteria play an important role in key metabolic processes.
The majority of bacteria reside within the digestive tract. Some conditions that correlate with altered patterns of bacteria are:
- obesity and metabolic syndrome
- autism spectrum disorders
- inflammatory bowel disease
- chronic fatigue
- anxiety and depression
To build a healthy population of bacteria in your gut, you are going to want to eat a variety of foods that are fermented, meaning they contain the beneficial bacterial strains. Some great options are yogurt (unsweetened), kefir, fermented sauerkraut and pickles, kombucha, and apple cider vinegar. Though it is very important to consume probiotic foods, it is also just as important to consume prebiotic fiber. This is the fiber that is in fruits and vegetables. It feeds and sustains the good bacteria. Some foods that are high in prebiotic fibers are onions, artichokes, asparagus, dandelion greens, and leeks.
Cultivate the soil of your digestive tract with good bacteria and you will see positive changes in your health and well-being!