Do you ever have the feeling that you’re not alone? Not so much like you’re in Rockwell’s song, though it would be fun to join Michael Jackson as a backup singer… I mean, like you are not all you. Like there’s more. If not, maybe you will soon, because you are literally only 10% yourself!
Let’s do that math. Your body is made up of 70 trillion cells but inside and on your body you have 700 trillion bacterial cells… 70 trillion is 10% of 700 trillion… so are you… could you be… is it true that you’re only 10% human? Yup.
You, my friend, are a walking talking Bed and Breakfast for bacteria, yeast, fungi, parasites and viruses.
NO! Don’t reach for the Purell! Put that crap down! You don’t want to kill these guys… well, some of them you might want to kill (to see whether or whom to kill, you might consider running an OAT test)…
You want these symbiotic creatures because you would be a goner without them!!! When on board, beneficial microbes do their best to ensure our health. But when we don’t have the good guys, both opportunistic microbes and health problems bloom.
Guess what: the dry weight of a turd is 80% microbial bodies and 20% fiber, give or take depending on your diet. Thank goodness we’ve got a lot of microbes in us because if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to poop!
Where did these microbes come from? Our first dose came from Mom’s vaginal canal and some fecal matter that got mixed up in the whole experience (Oh, grow up guys. That is not gross.) Our later doses came from her skin, breast milk, household pets, farm animals and all the toys we chewed on and square feet of the floor that we licked with gusto. At age two, this microbial community becomes our Microbiome and is treated like just another organ in our bodies.
As life goes on, we get many of our microbes from the surfaces of our fruits and vegetables. Where do they come from? From the air and soil. What happens when you eat foods from different regions and countries? You get different bacteria than the guys that live in your local soil. Is that bad? I honestly don’t know. But for a lot of other reasons, eating locally is a good idea.
Sorry to say but if you were born via C-section, were fed formula, had a super clean house with no pets, were bathed in Purell and ate only processed foods, you’re at a major disadvantage and might want to go buy a few bottles of excellent probiotics ASAP. If you have a nagging or serious health issue, you might even consider a fecal transplant!
Sidenote: How seriously do I take my job? So seriously that I personally did a fecal transplant! I got the poop from a good friend (that was an interesting conversation). I did it because my lack of a colon puts me and my bacterial crew at a severe disadvantage. (Most of the bacteria in your Food Tube lives in the 5-6 feet of lush countryside that is your colon.)
The way I did it was WRONG and slightly foolhardy. The correct way is to test the donation before using it to be sure you’re not introducing more than you’d bargained for. (Is that a good idea for a screen play? Steven King, if you’re reading this, I’d just ask for a small mention in the Acknowledgements). If you’re contemplating this, you might consider scheduling a session and we can talk about how to find the right donor. If you’re flush with cash, I suggest visiting the Hunza Tribe in Africa. You should bring a really good translator.
So remember, you are not alone. You are a thriving community of vivacious organisms who want nothing but for you to survive, because if you falter, where will they live and what will they eat? Next time you have a quiet moment, you might consider closing your eyes and saying hi to them all. Yes, I admit that I’m a little crazy to suggest that you talk to 700 trillion microbes with your mind. But, they are talking about you and to you all the time. When bacteria reach a certain number, they begin to communicate. It’s called Quorum Sensing and is discussed in this fascinating, easily-digestible TED Talk by Bonnie Bassler.
If some of your crew is misbehaving (dysbiosis, overgrowth of candida, constipation, diarrhea, food sensitivities, skin problems), come see me. We’ll all sit down and have a talk. There might be some resistance when you go about evicting any opportunistic guests. Candida, for example, can produce chemicals that are similar to your own body’s signals that urge you to eat more carbs, or feel sad and slow. But we’ll talk about ways to make the transition easier. Breakups are always tough and this type is no exception.
There are many things you can do to support your Microbiome, but the first and most important is to feed them right. These microbes are all about fiber, fiber, fiber. Green leafies & root veggies are their favorites. Whole grains also provide the fiber that they like, though grains are inflammatory for many people even when they’re soaked. If someone is on a high-protein, low-carb diet and feels cruddy over time, it might be because they’re not eating enough carbs to fuel their Microbiome.
It’s all about the Microbiome!