what are human microbes?
our bodies both inside and out contain a huge array of microbes, they are covered in millions of individual micro-organisms that don’t do any harm to us, in fact they help to protect us from becoming infected from harmful microbes and play a part in several areas of the body’s functions. they are known as the normal body flora.
our bodies contain 10 trillion cells, but have over 100 trillion microbial cells, we have 20,000 human genes, but up to 20 million microbial genes. These microbes play key roles in our bodies healthy functions, helping to breakdown sugars, providing nutrients for our cells, digesting food, educating and programming the immune system and preventing colonisation of harmful bacteria and viruses.
how has our microbiome been affected by the modern world?
- Urban living areas where we have reduced contact with natural microbiomes from soil
- Reduced diversity of personal microbiota
- Increase in antibiotics and other stressors
- Loss of biodiversity in rural areas because of agro-checmicals and lack of plant diversity
what can we do to improve our gut health and our general microbiota?
the human body has notably different communities of microbiomes, each of these communes of microbes vary from each other and from human to human. In our gut microbiome, the cells which line the gut wall help to inform our immune system, we can help this action by;
-Eating well – the simple approach to eat fresh seasonal wholefoods and avoid processed foods, reduce our intake of caffeine, alcohol, refined sugars and increase our intake of greens, fruits, nuts, seeds and pluses
-Introduce pre-biotic and pro-biotic foods into our diets, traditionally fermented foods have been known to be beneficial for gut health, including komucha, kefir, yoghurt and kimchi along with pre-biotic foods garlic, onions, leeks, chickpeas, lentils, bananas and cereal grains. (pre-biotics provide us with the fibre that useful microbes can thrive, and pro-biotics are the microbes themselves).
-in ayurveda it’s believed that a build-up of ama (toxic accumulation) leads to digestive issues, low immunity and fatigue. pitta (fire and water) which governs the metabolic system can aid with gut health by the practice of heating food or eating cooked food which is already partly broken down before entering the digestive system. in additional sipping hot water throughout the day, the action of hot water on the tongue jump starts the metabolic activity and the digestive enzymes to help with better digestion.
nature and us
recent studies have shown that the microbiome of soil and its biodiversity is increasingly important and might be directly linked to our health. better microbiome in the soil can contribute to more nutritiously grown food plants, which in turn will help our health.
soil and its microbes can also have a direct relation to the microbiota of our own skin. in a recent study a pronounced increase in the diversity of skin microbiota was shown immediately after short-term exposure to natural soil and plant-based gardening materials. Indicating that bacteria found in the soil and plant material attached to the skin remained their even after washing with water. where links to reduced microbiome diversity in the body to immunity, these new studies show promising results in natural ways to help increase our immunity and general health.
having our hands in the soil and working with plants may well be the way to increase our immunity along with calming our minds. Get planting!