We’re sure you’ve heard of the statistic that humans are comprised of 60% water. But you may not have known that we are also made up of something else – microbes. The average human has 100 trillion microbes, as they outnumber human cells ten to one. They are mainly found in the large intestine. And they include bacteria, fungi, protozoa, viruses, etc., that live in and out of the human body. All in all, the microbiome may weigh as much as five pounds. Don’t let the size fool you, the microbiome packs a punch. So, let’s discuss different ways of taking care of it.
Why Should We Care About the Microbiome
Bacteria in the microbiome help digest our food, regulate our immune system, and protect against other bacteria that cause disease. It also produces vitamins including B vitamins B12, thiamine and riboflavin, and Vitamin K.
The microbiome is essential for human development, immunity, and nutrition. The bacteria living in and on us are not invaders but beneficial colonizers. Autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia are associated with dysfunction in the microbiome. Family genes, environment, and medication can also determine the condition of the microbiome.
Eastern VS Western Thought: Ways to Treat
Eastern Thought: Diet
Diet also plays a large role in determining what kinds of microbiota live in the colon. All of these factors create a unique microbiome from person to person. A high-fiber diet, in particular, affects the type and amount of microbiota in the intestines. Dietary fiber can only be broken down and fermented by enzymes from microbiota living in the colon. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) are released as a result of fermentation. This lowers the pH of the colon, which in turn determines the type of microbiota present that would survive in this acidic environment.
Foods that support increased levels of SCFA are referred to as indigestible carbohydrates and fibers. They include:
- Resistant Starches
They are sometimes called “prebiotics” because they feed the good microbiota. The highest amounts of prebiotics are found in raw versions of:
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Dandelion greens
Words of Warning
Please note that if you suddenly increase your intake of prebiotic foods, you may increase your gas production and bloating. If you have any gastrointestinal sensitivities, please introduce these foods gradually.
Probiotics in Diet
Probiotic foods contain beneficial live microbiota that may further alter one’s microbiome. These include: fermented foods like:
- Yogurt with live active cultures
- Pickled vegetables
- Kombucha tea
Western Thought: Probiotic Supplements
Probiotic supplement pills contain live active bacteria—advertised to promote digestive health. Probiotic supplement sales exceeded $35 billion in 2015, with a projected increase to $65 billion by 2024. Whether you believe the health claims or think they are yet another snake oil scam, they make up a multi-billion-dollar industry that is evolving in tandem with quickly emerging research.
We ask that if you are looking to supplement your probiotic intake, please proceed with caution. Probiotics fall under the category of supplements, not food. This means they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. This means that unless the supplement company voluntarily discloses information on quality, a probiotic pill may not contain the amounts listed on the label or even guarantee that the bacteria are alive and active at the time of use. One way to check the quality is through a USP seal that provides standards for quality and purity.
Western Thought: FMT
FMT or fecal microbiome transplant is one of the oldest microbiome-based human interventions. By infusing healthy fecal microbes to patients suffering from an infection, infection recurrence rates were shown to decrease within ten weeks. This is must faster than waiting for the typical antibiotic.
Your Microbiome with Zock Chiropractic
Part of achieving our best physical and emotional health is through chiropractic care and massage therapy. Chiropractic care is focused on allowing our spine and nerves to work to their potential. This results in not only allowing our organs to function but for them to function to their best ability. Dr. Zock would love to discuss your concerns in regard to resetting your health. Her vast knowledge of natural supplementation and body processes make her a great guide in helping you make the best choices for your body. Contact our office in Cranberry today to schedule an introductory chiropractic treatment session. We can discuss your pains and needs as part of my initial chiropractic workup for you as a new patient to our practice!