Here we present a short primer about the microbes living in your digestive tract. We call it "The Microbiome Crash Course". It's not an exhaustive list since this is one of the hottest topics in primary research right now. This could easily have been a hundred bullet points but we narrowed it down to ten. Keep in mind, again, that this is a growing field. There is still so much to be learned. This primer will give you a quick update on the current status of the microbiome and some practical tips as well. So, without further adieu:
"The Microbiome Crash Course"
1.The human microbiome consists of all the microbial organisms inhabiting a body.
2. Microbial cells outnumber human cells by an estimated ratio of 10 to 1.
3. Between 3-5 pounds of a healthy adult’s body weight is their microbiome.
4. Humans have evolved with these specific cells. Many of the metabolic reactions that occur within the human body are because of our microbial associates, and we could not survive well without them. (Just think about extended periods of time spent on antibiotics and the havoc that causes to a digestive system.)
5. Every person has a unique microbial identity because of their particular experiences. With every new place and person an individual is exposed to, new microbes are acquired. These microbes either act symbiotically with those preexisting cells, or are (ideally) eradicated from the system.
6. Bacteria, viruses, eukaryotes, and other microorganisms cover the entire body, but there are four core areas where most of these cells are found. These areas are the skin, vagina, feces, and the gut. Each of these core areas contains slightly different microbial profiles specifically designed for the their function.
7. In the gut, bacteria is the most common type of microbe. Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes— two super kingdoms of bacteria— make up about 99% of the bacteria in the gut.
8. The bacteria in the colon alone represent one of the most densely populated cellular ecosystems recorded.
9. Probiotics are living microorganisms within a human’s gastrointestinal tract. This “good” bacteria keeps the growth of “bad” bacteria at bay. They also aid in digestion.
10. Prebiotics are undigestible plant fibers. These fibers are broken down into short chain fatty acids that feed the healthy microbes so that they can continue to help keep their host body healthy.
Eating more foods with pre and probiotics in them is a simple way to take care of your gut and keep the essential microbes functioning properly. You are probably already doing more than you think you are, but here are some quick and easy changes you can make. Next time you are purchasing yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, or other fermented foods, check the labels for the indication that there are live cultures in them. Taking the time to buy products with lives cultures in them will increase the probiotics in your gut and assist in digestion.These products will also usually have less sugars and additives in them so it is a win-win. (Shameless plug: another alternative is to buy our product. With each serving, you will get 16 billion cells from 8 different strains. Each strain has been clinically studied to provide digestive benefit.)
Eating fruits, veggies, and beans will increase your prebiotic intake. Try replacing a serving of meat with beans a few times a week. You will still be getting adequate protein, but the fiber from the beans will act as prebiotic and feed the healthy gut flora.
As a little bit of inspiration, here is a recipe for pre/probiotic Huevos Rancheros.
Makes 2 servings
2 corn tortillas
1 cup of black beans
Half of an onion, chopped
1/2 cup of bell peppers, chopped
1 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 cup of salsa
2 tbsp of plain greek yogurt (with live cultures)
In a small frying pan, sauté onions and peppers in oil until tender. Add the salsa and let simmer. Heat up the black beans and the tortillas. Begin assembling by placing the corn tortilla on a plate with half of the beans over the tortilla. Next put half of the veggies and salsa on top of the beans. Fry the eggs until they are over easy and then place them on top of the veggies. Finally put a dollop of greek yogurt on top of the egg. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can also sprinkle cheese, cilantro, green onions, or slice up an avocado to put on the side. Enjoy!