Microbiome and Wellbeing
Health, November 06, 2020
The more I read on the microbiome of our gut and the microbacteria of the soil I more I come to understand how our wellbeing is intertwined with our earth.
The microbiome are microorganisms that populate the body. It is the aggregate of all the micobiota that reside on or within human tissues, but most reside in the gut. Their genome has evolved with our own - adding 2 million genes to the 23,000 genes in the human genome. Our health including control and reversal of many disease states lies in changing the microbiome in the gut NOT taking more medications with side effects. What we are realizing is that none of the microbial life inside us are "invaders" but "beneficial colonisers". Those 2 million genes evolved with us. Some are actually woven into our own DNA. As in the Earth’s ecosystem, survival demands on every microbe performing a useful function. Unfortunately where there is balance, the possibility for imbalance occurs. When this happens, the body and the microbiome are not in harmony, with the result that disease processes may start to form, and natural functions like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, immunity, and healthy weight are impaired—or even become completely out of whack. Autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia are all associated with dysfunction in the microbiome.
We now realise that the human body is an entire ecosystem- to be healthy requires communicating to your microbiome in many ways—you have an entire planet to manage at the microbial level (around 100 trillion microbes compared to around 10 trillion human cells). The digestive functions they perform is barely the tip of the iceberg. As intestinal microbes feed, they excrete chemicals that are essential to wellness. Besides producing well-known chemicals like vitamin B, the microbiome sends neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine into the bloodstream. Hormonal levels are influenced, and so is your immune systems ability to ward off disease (check out my article on how to cultivate a healthy immune system https://everfit.co.nz/articles/how-to-boost-your-immunity )
This Chinese study in the journal Bio Medicine has got obese children between the ages of 3-16 years where "Bodyweight management ...has proven to be extraordinarily difficult as they have a low muscle tone that tends to result in less physical activity than normal, a chronic and uncontrollable feeling of hunger, and a deficit of satiety that drives their constant food-craving behavior." Yet a startling reversal in their condition occurred in 30 days by switching to a diet that returned the children's microbiome to a healthy state, not only causing kilograms to drop off and the return of normal appetite but improving medical markers like inflammatory chemicals in the bloodstream and insulin resistance, both of which are very common among obese adults. The diet the researchers devised was based on traditional Chinese diet, including some medicinal herbs, but in essence the aim was universal: to give the microbiota what it wanted in order to thrive.
This meant an increase in complex carbohydrates from 52% to 62% (in this case, brown rice), a decrease in fat from 30% to 20%, and a huge, eight-fold increase in fiber, from 6 grams per day to 49 grams.(More vegetables - in this experiment they used bitter melon and Chinese yam amongst others - fruit, and compex carbohydrates). These are major dietary changes, and so was the 30% calorie reduction each child underwent. But just as major was the reversal of the ill effects of obesity on the entire system, along with an average of losing 9% of body weight in 30 days. For those children who chose to stay on the program under hospital supervision for another 30 days, their weight loss doubled!
Yet medically the most surprising result was that these benefits were experienced equally by the children with an uncontrollable genetic disorder (Prader-Willi syndrome) and those with simple obesity. If this Chinese diet used in the children's study is any guide, we need to rethink high fiber intake along with complex carbs as the norm. This is yet another study showing the incredible benefits of a whole food plant based diet with attempting to eliminate highly processed food and animals that are given antibiotics, and hormones. Organic horticulture, and free range less intensive farming practices have to be supported for our own health and the earths health. Regenerative farming that doesn't rely on synthetic fertiliser use must be championed by governments and farmers around the world if we are going to save our earths microbiome - the soil (Another article of mine of the importance of healthy soil https://everfit.co.nz/articles/support-nature-to-heal-us )
The future of wellness is in our own hands and what we choose to put on our plates. By listening and reacting to the ecosystem that is you, the entire system of mind, body, and soul is affected. In practical terms the old model of preventing risks can be replaced by a positive self empowering model. This empowering model is about optimising the personal well-being of each individual person. If we learn from an early age how to “communicate” with our microbiome within us while cultivating the earths microorganisms, that conversation turns into feedback loops that maintain balance, wholeness, and peak performance for our world and us. It's all connected.
Deepak Chopra Articles on Linked IN May and June 2018
Chenhong, Z, et al, Dietary Modulation of Gut Mirbiota Contributes to Alleviation of Both Genetic and SImple Obesity in Children, EBioMedicine, 2015 Aug 2 (8): 969-984.
My book 'Holistic Human - Expansive Wellness Habits for thriving humans on a healthy planet' is available through my site for NZ and Australia https://everfit.co.nz/Store/holistic-human-book