Science has now started to recognize the importance of our second brain; the brain in our gut. This collection of over 100 million neurons is responsible for the production of 95% of our Serotonin and 50% of our dopamine. These neurotransmitters have been dubbed “the happiness hormones” so it’s no wonder that an improperly functioning gut has been linked to depression among a long list of other conditions.
Our microbiome–the collection of over 100 trillion microbes who call our bodies home–have an immense impact on our health. In fact we have 10 times more bacteria living in our bodies–including on our skin–than we have human cells! These microbes only weigh about as much as the liver when put together because they are much smaller than human cells.
Our microbiome is home to both “good” and “bad” bacteria. Good bacteria support our ability to digest food, absorb nutrients, eliminate toxins and can even tell our immune system to attack pathogenic viruses! We can support their growth by reducing our intake of sugars and carbohydrates, which are actually converted into glucose (sugar) when inside the body. In fact the human body has hardly any need for sugars or carbs in the diet because the liver–in combination with the glucose produced in fat metabolism–can make all of the glucose that our bodies need.
Gut dysbiosis–meaning an improperly functioning digestive system–has been linked to cancer, heart disease and a number of auto-immune conditions. This can be caused by feeding bad bacteria or by killing off our good bacteria. This happen when we take antibiotics or when we consume preservatives, which act effectively as antibiotics in the body. It is thought that this is because when the gut isn’t working correctly the body initiates an inflammatory response, which any doctor will tell you is the precursor to all disease.
We can support the growth of healthy bacteria by consuming foods high in fiber–such as vegetables, flax seeds and psyllium seed husks–and probiotic supplements. Prebiotic supplements are a less common term and are also a great way to support healthy bacteria since our friendly microbes actually feed on the indigestible fibers in these supplements.
Cultures to Look for When Buying Probiotics
- Bifidobacterium Bifidum
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