What is “the best diet”? Have you ever noticed that what works for one person does not work for another? We all have gut bacteria, and those gut bacteria are literally a functional part of us. Really, it would be more accurate to say that “we” are not an organism with symbionts living in/on it, but an organism composed of trillions of smaller organisms. They influence the function of our nervous system, immune system, brain, hormones and probably everything else to an extent! There is a relationship between the human immune system and the gut bacteria such that the bacteria help program the immune system, and the immune system “agrees” to not kill the gut bacteria. Which species of bacteria and how much of each in the microbiome is variable over a person’s lifetime as well as their individual genetic profile. So the “optimum gut bacteria” is different for each person, though all are within a certain spectrum of course. The healthiest diet is one that supports the most diverse and healthy microbiome (gut bacteria), so….the perfect diet is a little different for each person. The human body has been evolving for millions of years (ok, that includes some near ancestors) and the current age of grains and processed foods is just a heartbeat in the lifetime of our species. Our bodies are not adapted to eating these foods! Understanding what helps your gut bacteria and what is bad for them, and why that is important, is a big part of why I wrote The Symbiont Factor. I based all of my statements on published peer-reviewed research, so this book has the most reliable accurate information I could find. tinyurl.com/m4agxd5
What are the causes of dysbiosis and resultant dysfunction/disease? One cause that seems to be greatly underestimated may be simply our mood! Human beings, having been gifted with large frontal lobes, are capable of experiencing and expressing a variety of moods. Our bodies respond to these moods with different functional states, some of which have been categorized. These are “fight or flight (or sometimes, fight/flee/fortify)” or “wine and dine”. There are many more physiological functional arousal states that we could elaborate on, but many of them could make this blog post NSFW. We’ll just assume that your imagination can fill in the blanks with how the body responds to the mind! With the brain-gut connection in mind, and being also cognizant that it’s a two-way street since the gut influences the brain, what would be the influence of stress? One that comes to mind right away is a reduction in gut motility. This changes the environment in which the microbiome exists, and will change the demographics of the microorganisms. What about the effects of peristalsis on the small intestine? If there is less peristalsis, wouldn’t it make it easier for colonic organisms to migrate to the small intestine? If transit times increase, different stages of food digestion could release different nutrients, feeding different organisms. When do we cross from fermentative to putrefactive dominance? Using one of the concepts in The Symbiont Factor, this two-way function of gut/brain/gut axis can cause a positive feedback loop. If gut organisms that flourish during emotional stress can also alter neurotransmitter function at the brain, wouldn’t that predispose the brain to perceive stress following stressful events? What if that is why sometimes after a stressful day we just have more stress, no matter what happens? It is as if our very perception of our environment is vulnerable to plasticity. If this is allowed to happen without our conscious intervention (things like deciding to meditate or do some yoga even though you’re angry) the combination of evoked brain plasticity with gut symbiont evolution could be what makes it hard to shake off stress! Ironically, this same plasticity is probably an evolutionary advantage, allowing genetic selection of the microbiome on an ongoing real-time basis to adapt to circumstances. The problem is that our modern circumstances provide constant chemical and emotional pressure to this system, resulting in “learned dysfunction” of both the gut and the brain! This highlights the importance of “mental housekeeping” and lifestyle choices in determining our “perceptual future”. If you don’t want the world to seem as stressful, start taking care of mind, body, and symbiont health!
After a year and a half of having a second job as a new author, my first book is finally available in print! A comprehensive, thoroughly referenced guide to how our gut bacteria influence physical and mental health: The Symbiont Factor is now available on Amazon as a paperback! If you ever wondered if and why probiotics are healthy you should read this book. Please share with your contacts 🙂 http://tinyurl.com/pe2g4xt
Did you know that a woman’s microbiome, her resident population of symbiont bacteria, plays a critical role in her susceptibility to sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection? How could bacteria protect a person from disease? If you would like answers to questions like this one, check out my newly released book, The Symbiont Factor. Find it here: http://amzn.to/1jz3kPt
Today is the day I finally got to click on the “submit” button and make my book available on Amazon. After a year of hard work writing and making edit corrections, it’s done! A print copy will be available soon-for now only the e-book version is available.
Here is the link to the book on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1jz3kPt
Ok, so most of what I’ve written in regards to probiotics and gut bacteria is about humans-but much of it applies to other species as well! Yesterday, my kids informed me that Jill, our oldest dog, had been nibbling grass for a couple of days and had thrown up all of her food in the morning. I made the suggestion to give her about 3/4 cup of goat milk kefir, surmising that it would help settle her stomach the same way it does a human’s. I found out when I got home that it worked, and really well! Not only did she love it, but she perked up completely, ate all of her food, and had no nausea. Another victory for kefir!
Many endurance athletes experience an increase in upper respiratory infections, with symptoms such as difficulty breathing and ear pain. These problems account for many missed training opportunities, and for some athletes may pose a “limiting factor” to the level they attain in their sport. A study was performed last year to evaluate the effect of probiotic yogurt on endurance swimmers performing 400 meter freestyle (crawl) swims. The researchers found that 8 weeks of daily probiotic yogurt intake reduced the number of upper respiratory infections, also reducing their duration as well as ear pain and difficulty breathing. The probiotic yogurt also improved the athletes VO2 max, which is a measure of the maximum amount of oxygen the body can absorb and utilize in a unit of time. VO2 max is considered the ultimate limiting factor to aerobic performance, so improvement in this equates to better fitness! It is amazing how scientific research is proving how necessary symbiotic organisms truly are. So, make sure you get your yogurt-and make sure it’s “real yogurt” with active cultures!