I have been improving my health for the past eleven years and for the past year and a half I have been virtually free of any type of illness. The only exception is that I have had three sinus infections…and I will get back to that in a bit. During this same year and a half the family members I live with and colleagues I share work space with have been ill with contagions such as strep throat, various types of flu, vomiting, the common cold and more. Last year the vomits went through everyone in my household not once, but twice and I was not at all affected. Last winter my husband had the flu, this winter strep throat. And although I share close quarters with my husband, again I was not at all affected. How have I remained illness free?
I love my bacteria buddies!
In October 2014 I began consuming a variety of fermented foods and beverages daily like kombucha, apple cider vinegar, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and yogurt. Fermented foods are chocked full of strains of bacteria and yeasts, called probiotics. Probiotics populate the gut microbiome in colonies and literally layer our intestinal microvilli – the cells responsible for absorbing nutrients into the body. The gut microbiome is the front line defense for the microvilli, they pre-digest and help the right nutrients get absorbed as well as help to expel toxins through feces. The friendly bacteria, yeasts, viruses & fungi in the gut microbiome do not allow unfriendly bacteria, viruses, yeasts or fungi to proliferate. By keeping unfriendly strains at bay, they cannot cause common illnesses. The gut microbiome is an integral part of our immune system as it programs immune cells to go out and kill certain organisms. The gut microbiome communicates directly with our brain by sending emotion signals such as happiness. But the gut microbiome can only perform these jobs correctly if it is in good working condition – populated by the correct strains of friendly bacteria, yeasts, viruses and fungi.
A gut microbiome that is in dysbiosis (microbial imbalance) will promote growth of unfriendly bacterial and yeast strains. The unfriendly strains will do the work incorrectly. Immune system cells are programmed to kill the wrong organisms and leads to allergies and auto-immune diseases (immune cells destroy your own tissue and organs!). The unfriendly strains do not protect the intestinal microvilli cells which can lead to leaky gut and food allergies. The unfriendly strains are able to grow in numbers and can easily cause common illnesses such as vomiting, colds, the flu and other infections. The unfriendly strains will also send unhappy signals to the brain such as anxiety and depression.
How does gut microbiome dysbiosis happen?
There are a variety of factors that contribute to bacteria and yeast imbalances in the gut microbiome rendering our friendly bacteria and yeast useless and giving the power to the unfriendly bacteria and yeast. Some factors include:
- C-section birth
- antibiotics & other pharmaceuticals
- S.A.D. (standard American diet)
- artificial sweeteners
- refined flour
- lack of adequate exercise
- NSAID’s – nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Advil, Tylenol and the like
- Other pharmaceuticals
Throw away the outdated theory that all bacteria are bad and should be eliminated. Sterile is out, friendly bacteria are in!
Not only do we need to give our gut microbiome a continuous supply of a variety of probiotics but we also need to feed the gut microbiome. Prebiotics are food for probiotics. Prebiotics are the fiber found in fruits, vegetables and seeds. Eating plants in their whole, raw form will provide adequate food for your gut micirobiome to dine on. Fermented foods contain both probiotics and prebiotics!
And now about those sinus infections…
I am using bacteria to prevent them too! This winter after both me and my daughter each had two sinus infections I did some research on the sinus microbiome. I believe that my love of inhaling thyme oil caused dysbiosis in my sinus microbiome. And of course I was making my daughter inhale it too. While the thyme oil might have effectively rid our sinus microbiomes of unfriendly bacteria, they were also stripped of necessary strains of friendly bacteria, thus allowing infections to occur easily.
For the past several months both my daughter and I have been putting probiotics in powder form in our mouths before bed. We don’t drink or eat anything after the powder is in our mouths. And the friendly bacteria strains make their way up into our sinus canals while we sleep, re-populating our sinus microbiomes! While my daughter had been snotty for the months prior to starting this regimen, I am happy to report that neither of us has developed another sinus infection. Of course, a few months does not mean absolute success. But I am confident that by continuing to eat a variety of fermented foods daily and as Sadie says “put bactewia in our mouths” at night we will continue to be free of common every day illness.
Love your bacteria buddies!
Be Well and Love the Earth,