The human body is only about 10% human cells. The other 90% are microbial cells, most of which reside in the gut. Most microbes in the body are actually essential- they live in harmony with the body and help it survive.
When an imbalance in microbial cultures occurs or infection gets a foothold, disease can happen. Luckily, there are a number of ways to manipulate microbes in the human body to preserve health. Three of which are prebiotics, probiotics, and antibiotics.
Substances in food that nourish good microbes and promote their growth- basically food for microbes. Prebiotics are fibers found in fruits and vegetables that can only be digested by microbes (like bacteria) but not the body.
These fibers can ease bowel movements and reduce inflammation in the gut. Examples include inulin and other oligosaccharides- which can be isolated and found in supplement form.
Probiotics are microbial cultures themselves. These are available in lots of foods including yogurt, kimchi, and kombucha. These add to good microbial cultures and help re-establish them when they have taken a hit.
Research suggests that probiotics help maintain a healthy gut and may alleviate constipation, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some probiotics act on the mouth and help prevent cavities by making competition with the bacteria that promote them.
These are substances that oppose microbial growth in many ways- it can kill them or interfere with their reproductive cycle. Antibiotics are used as a medication to treat infections but have an adverse effect on good bacteria.
Antibiotics do not target specific microbes, they work like a shotgun. Good microbial communities die during antibiotic treatment and leading to symptoms like diarrhea or constipation. Furthermore, the death of good microbial communities leaves open space for foreign bacteria to grow and cause a subsequent infection.
The overuse of antibiotics in medicine and for agricultural purposes in posing a new threat for the near future. New strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are emerging, many of which will claim thousands of lives if new treatments are developed. It is important to only use antibiotics during times of bacterial infection and to not rely on them for minor illness.
Why are Microbes Important?
Microbial cultures create “micro-ecosystems” throughout the body that differ drastically from one another despite being only inches apart. The microbes that make-up these micro-ecosystems are very particular and symptoms can arise when the wrong kind of bacteria is present.
For example, bacterial cultures covering our hands are different from those covering our face. Bacteria of the hand can lead to acne on the face- a reason why touching your face promotes acne.
It is important to keep microbial cultures that benefit the body healthy and at appropriate levels. To do this be sure to eat well (lots of fruits and vegetables), and minimize the use of antibiotics.
The best way to maximize health and get results is to address diet and nutrition and all its contributing factors. Talk to our staff at Santa Cruz Core to set up a series of consultations with our Integrative and Functional Nutritionist today.