Make Friends With Your Microbiome
It's time we started treating our interiors with the same respect we accord our exteriors. Women spend millions on cosmetics, beauty products and procedures every year to improve their outward appearance. But few of us ever give a thought to what's going on inside our bodies. They say that true beauty comes from within, and in a literal sense, this is true. This week, I've been talking about the diverse communities of friendly bacteria living in and on our bodies, which are an important part of us. They deserve our respect.
That's because a healthy microbiome—the mixture of bacterial communities living in the gut—plays a far more important role in health than we've previously recognized or fully appreciated. Indeed, recent advances in technology have allowed scientists to comprehend the vast array of microbes living in the human body with unprecedented clarity. It's all happening so fast, even experts are still trying to make sense of it all. It's an exciting frontier, with far more to be learned, but here's what we know so far:
The healthiest people tend to have greater diversity of bacterial species living in their guts.
Antibiotics often radically disturb and alter the makeup of the microbiome, in ways that we're only beginning to appreciate.
Any alterations in the microbiome may be accompanied by unintended—and undesirable—consequences for long-term health.
Diet plays an important role in maintaining the health and makeup of the microbiome.
The microbiome and its products can influence everything from immunity, to mood, to the likelihood that you will gain or lose weight.
The most beneficial bacteria love dietary fiber; the kind that comes from fruits and vegetables. Less beneficial bacteria crave pure sugar. Which species are you cultivating and encouraging?