Are we really human?

Functional nutrition with Carmen Gresa-Alemany - Functional Nutrition Therapist

Did you know that only 10% of the cells you have in your body are human? We carry 100 trillion microbes – known as the microbiota – in our bodies, with a total mass of almost 2kg, these are bacteria, fungi, viruses and archaea. Our bodies contain 21,000 human genes, and 4.4 million genes make up our microbiome, so by that count, your “human” per-centage is pretty small.

This amazing ecosystem that resides in you, needs to be in balance, and bacteria not only reside in your gut, your eyes, mouth, skin and even your reproduct-ive organs, but have their own bacteria and they influence each other. Your immune system is like a database, and these organisms teach your immune system to recognise danger, they produce chemicals you cannot make by yourself, they regulate inflame-mation by either producing inflammatory or anti-inflammatory chemicals, they affect your brain, your weight, and even produce minerals and vitamins for you, so the more limited these families are the higher the chance of damaging your DNA and developing disease.

Although we have certain species of bacteria that are common to all of us, your microbiome is like a finger-print, totally specific to you. Your “families”, variety, and numbers are influenced by your diet, health, sleep and lifestyle.

During this pandemic, one study showed that people seriously affected by COVID-19 had fewer species of bacteria associated with regulating the immune system than a healthy person, making them have more serious and persistent symptoms. Their inflammation-producing bacteria levels mirrored the inflammatory chemicals in their blood.

So how can you know what the universe that resides in you is made of? By analysing your stool, we can find out your specific break down of these organisms, together with the chemicals they produce. We can compare too, the levels expected in a healthy person and discover imbalances, ascertain if they need help, or if the inflammatory producing microbes are exceeding in numbers. And finally, by setting a target of probiotic intake, to maintain these levels where we want them to be. Fried foods, alcohol, antibiotics and NSAIDs, are some of the examples that will hurt you bacteria.

So how can you help, not harm, your microbiome? Most of us are in need of probiotics (live organisms), more often than not in clinic I recommend doses of 50 to a 100 billion of probiotics daily. First, let’s make sure there are plenty of vegetables in your diet, these are full of prebiotics, which is food for those living organisms. Live foods like, miso, tempeh, kimchi, kombucha and sauerkraut are full of “live” bacteria, that helps your families to settle. Also, fibre and inulin are essential to maintain well fed, high levels of organisms in your body. Sleep well and reduce stress, take 10 minutes before bed to show gratitude for the little things in your day or the big events in your life, by doing this you will quieten your mind, and will get your body ready for quality rest, ending your day on a good note. And if you feel you want to get in charge of looking after that universe that resides in you, the same way they look after you, get in touch and let’s test your microbiome.

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