You are 99% bacteria!
- Mel’s weekly product pick:
Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics Mood +
- Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
You might find it hard to believe, but the bacteria living in your gut outnumber the cells of your body by a factor of ten to one. And did you also know that 99% of your genetic material is bacterial DNA, and not the DNA you inherited from your parents?
Yes, this means you are 99% bacteria!
Typically when we think of bacteria on our body, we immediately have the urge to break out a bottle of hand sanitizer. Not so fast! Many of these bacteria are beneficial to your health, and destroying them is the worst thing you could do.
This collection of more than 100 trillion organisms living within your intestines, mouth and nose, called your microbiome, influences practically everything about you, including your:
- Immune system
- Risk of developing cancer and diabetes
- Body weight
- Food cravings
Bacteria and food cravings…
I find the link between the health of our microbiome and our food cravings and body weight, especially intriguing.
These little bugs are quite manipulative and can control what we eat by inducing food cravings, making us prefer one food over another. For example, researchers are finding that bacteria can release toxins in response to certain foods. These toxins will make us feel good when we eat something they like and not-so-good when they disagree with our food choices. But this doesn’t mean that the foods they prefer are the ones that are actually good for us.
I know this may sound like hopeless news, but don’t worry, you can actually manipulate your gut bacteria to assure the survival and growth of good bacteria, and therefore induce healthy food cravings. The key is twofold: to fuel your body with foods that populate good bacteria and to minimize those foods, substances, and habits that can destroy them in favor of the bad ones.
How to grow good bacteria…
To grow and sustain the good bacteria, in addition to eating a balanced diet chock full of a wide variety of plant-based foods and low in processed foods, you’ll also want to eat a steady supply of probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods.
Probiotics are foods or supplements containing live bacteria that replace or add to the beneficial bacteria normally present in your gut. They include:
- Raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar: Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
- Fermented soybeans: natto, miso, and tempeh
- Fermented vegetables: raw sauerkraut, kimchi, beets, pickles, carrots
- Kefir: a fermented milk beverage
- Kombucha: fermented tea
- Kvass: fermented beverage made from sourdough bread, beets, or various fruits
- Unflavored/unsweetened yogurt
- Protein powders
- Probiotic supplements
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are food for the good bacteria and are just as important as probiotics. They include nuts (check out this week’s recipe pick for Grain-free Granola— full of prebiotic-rich nuts and seeds!) and vegetables and fruits such as asparagus, leeks, artichokes, garlic, carrots, peas, beans, onions, chicory, jicama, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, spinach, kale, and chard, and fresh or frozen bananas, cherries, apples, pears, oranges, strawberries, cranberries, kiwi, and berries.
Personally, I take a few steps each day to make sure I’m keeping the good bugs alive and growing in my body. First, I take a probiotic supplement every morning. I follow that up with a nice hot cup of water with one tablespoon of Bragg apple cider vinegar mixed in. For breakfast, I add prebiotic-rich frozen blueberries and fresh kale to my smoothie. I end my day with another cup of hot water and apple cider vinegar. In between I chow down on several servings of fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds to get me through the day.
These things can destroy good bacteria…
The second step in populating a healthy microbiome is to minimize those foods, substances and habits that can destroy good bacteria, including: overuse of antibiotics and hand sanitizers, smoking, chronic stress, lack of sleep, processed foods, refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, and meat and dairy products full of hormones.
Here’s the good news…
The good news is the bacteria in your microbiome have a lifespan of about 20 minutes. This means you have the opportunity to build a population of healthy bacteria every time you eat!
Unless you eat a regular diet of fermented vegetables and kombucha, I recommend you take a high quality probiotic supplement every day. Following is a list of brands that I recommend.
- Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics: Once Daily Men’s; Once Daily Women’s; Fitbiotic (powdered formulation that supports digestion and weight management); Mood+ (promotes emotional wellbeing and digestion)
- Garden of Life Primal Defense: available in powder or capsules.
- Garden of Life Raw Probiotics: Women; Men; Women 50 & Wiser; Men 50 & Wiser.
Mel’s weekly product pick:
Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics Mood +
This is my personal favorite probiotic. I take it every morning on an empty stomach while waiting for my coffee to brew.
A unique formula with clinically studied strains to support mood, Dr. Formulated Probiotics Mood + contains 50 billion CFU (colony forming units) and 16 probiotic strains per serving.
I adore this formulation because it includes 350 mg of organic ashwagandha and organic Alaskan blueberries for stress management. It really does make a difference!
Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
I love granola, but unfortunately there aren’t many brands out there that I would actually buy. Most are way too high in sugar!
This week’s recipe pick is one that I adapted slightly from Tastes of Lizzy T. It’s full of prebiotic-rich nuts to help fertilize the good bacteria in your gut: sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), almonds, and pecans!
The only sugar is from naturally sweetened dates. If you prefer a hint of sweet, you could always add a touch of raw honey or pure maple syrup prior to baking.
This recipe is free of dairy, gluten, and of course…grains!