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Our Microbiome

It’s incredible to think we are a world within ourselves. There exists distinct ecosystems within, as well as upon, our bodies, known collectively as our microbiome.

With the help of Rob Dunn (The Man Who Touched His Own Heart), Jeff Leach (The Human Food Project), Dr. Mercola, Paul Stamets, Dr. Daphne Miller (Farmacology), Sandor Katz, and many more, we outline the symbiotic exchange between our microbiomes and the microbiomes of our surroundings.

Here are 10 things you should be asking about your microbiome:

1. What are the key terms to keep in mind as we discuss our microbiome?

2. What makes up our bodies’ ecosystem?

3. What kind of changes does our microbiome undergo as we age?

4. What role does the soil in our environment play in the microbiome?

5. How can food and nutrition play a role in promoting a healthy microbiota?

6. What kind of impacts do pesticides have on our gut bacteria?

7. Can mushrooms support the health of our microbiome?

8. How does our gut bacteria feel after a fast food binge?

9. Are there prebiotic foods that we can eat to encourage the health of these healthy gut bacteria?

10. What can be made at home to help introduce probiotics into my diet?

This week's terms

MIcrobiome

Every person on earth has two genomes. The genome we inherit from our mom and dad is the one we are most familiar, and more or less stuck with for life. Our second genome, the one we initially acquire from mom as we pass through the birth canal, it is more dynamic and made up of trillions of bacteria that live on and in our body. Collectively known as our microbiome (our microbes and their genes). The evolutionary and ecological forces that are thought to have shaped our microbiome are governed not only by host genetics, but are profoundly conditioned by diet and lifestyle. - Jeff Leach

Symbiosis

(from the Greek biosis:living and sym:together) refers to the myriad ways in which organisms interact within a community, often cooperatively. Ecologists studying these interactions have revealed just how interconnected and interdependent communities are. Soil ecologists have documented within a gram of soil entire ecosystems of interactions amongst flora and fauna, usually too small to the naked eye, contribute significantly to soil fertility. Healthy soils depend on these microscopic ecosystems replete with symbiotic interactions, which in turn contribute to healthier above ground ecosystems, including agricultural crops. Farming practices that support soil symbioses can increase productivity. - Dayna Baumeister

Probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. The microbes typically used as probiotics include Lactobacillus species, Bifidobacterium species, or Saccharomyces cerevisiae biovariant boulardii. Globally, probiotics are contained in a variety of different products, including foods, dietary supplements, infant formula, medical foods, pharmaceuticals, and even devices (such as tampons that deliver probiotics). 

Prebiotic

Nondigestible, fermentable carbohydrates which stimulate and promote activity of beneficial gut bacteria. Many natural whole plant foods contain prebiotics. - Jo Ann Hattner

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