Have you ever heard of the "human microbiome"? Chances are you have, or at least heard of probiotics for our digestive health.
Research is booming about the human microbiome and probiotics! The National Institute of Health (NIH) has actually been working on a project since 2008 working to understand the human microbiome and how it relates to human health, especially in the capacity of preventing and treating disease.
So what is the microbiome you might ask? It consists of the communities of bacteria--good bacteria--that lives within us, particularly in our GI tract (gastrointestinal). The NIH reports that 1 to 3 percent of our body weight is actually a result of the microbes within us. That is about 4.5 pounds in a 150-pound adult!
These microbiomes are not harmful, even though they are made up of bacteria. We have both good and bad bacteria that live within us. I am referring to the good bacteria. Although we most likely do not know all the roles they play in human health, we do know they help with many important functions, such as (1):
- Producing vitamins we can't make on our own
- Aid in the breakdown of food essential for survival
- Help our immune system recognize foreign and harmful invaders
- Produce anti-inflammatory compounds to fight off the bad bacteria within us
So now that you have an idea of what the microbiome is you might be asking yourself:
How does diet relate and what foods should I eat to make sure I have a diverse collection of microorganisms living in association within my body?
Okay, maybe you didn't phrase it like that. That would be the food nerd way to phrase it. #nerdalert #noshame
Well, as you can probably guess, plant based foods are excellent for paving the way for a healthy microbiome. And you can learn about 10 foods that are gut friendly in an article featured in this month's M Magazine, who interviewed me on the topic.
(1) The Human Microbiome. (n.d.). Retrieved February 23, 2017, from http://hmpdacc.org/overview/about.php