Our Amazing Microbiomes: Healthy Gut, Healthy Mind, Healthy Body
What do microbiota do for human bodies?
- Produce and store energy.
- Aid digestion and control metabolic functions.
- Interact with and support normal immune system functions. (Another fun fact: 80 percent of our immune system comes from our gut microbes. Wow!)
- Support brain and mental health and so much more.
How to maintain gut health—for kids and adults!
- Get your hands dirty in the soil. When we garden (without gloves), beneficial soil organisms transfer from our hands to our bodies through our mucous membranes (like our eyes, nose, and mouth). Dirt can be healthy!
- Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, and mushrooms. These foods are teaming with beneficial soil bacteria, prebiotic fiber, and starches that we need for healthy gut function.
- Eat whole-grains like quinoa, buckwheat, oats, amaranth, millet, sorghum, and whole-grain rice and corn (non-GMO) that provide fuel and resistant starches that gut bacteria use to ferment carbohydrates.
- Eat healthy fats from:
- Avocados or avocado oil (for cooking).
- Olives or extra-virgin olive oil (for dressings, not cooking).
- Ghee or grass-fed animal butter.
- Nuts and seeds.
- Wild caught cold-water fish and sea vegetables.
- Grass-fed meats, wild game, and free-range chickens and eggs.
- Use natural sweeteners like raw honey (not for infants under 1 year old), real maple syrup, organic molasses, and cocoa or chocolate (72% cocoa or more).
- Eat a small amount of fermented food each day. Think yogurt, kefir, live sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, natto, tempeh, and beet kvass.
- Wash your hands with soap and water and use proper sanitizing compounds made from natural sources. Too many antimicrobial detergents and cleaning products kill both good and bad bacteria. In our efforts to kill all bad germs, we are actually putting our health in jeopardy and creating the potential for superbugs.
- Try eating proteins without added antibiotics. An excess of antibiotics kills the beneficial organisms in the gut that we need for optimal health and sets our bodies up for potential antibiotic resistance.
- Try to get natural sunlight for 10–20 minutes every day. While it is wise to avoid the strongest UV rays (around 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), a healthy dose of natural light each day helps maintain vitamin D levels and boost the diversity of beneficial gut microbes.