March 11

Got Bacteria?

Veggie ManWe’ve all heard the phrase “you are what you eat.”  Of course we don’t take it literally—not really.  But that statement is actually true in some fascinating, microscopic ways that earlier generations could never have imagined.  Turns out that everything we eat and drink either helps or hinders the amazing population of bacteria that inhabit the gut—what is now being called our “microbiome.”  And that extensive community—up to 4 pounds worth of bacteria—helps us digest and absorb the nutrients in our food; influences appetite, weight and our moods; balances blood sugar and cholesterol; and even trains our immune system to recognize invaders, protecting our health.

March is National Nutrition Month—so what better way to think about what we eat than by thinking about the best foods for our personal brand of bacteria?  Certain foods tend to increase or strengthen the number of good guys in our gut.  Fruit and veggies such as asparagus, broccoli, figs, pears, apples, carrots and onions, are all beloved by your bacteria.  But so are naturally fermented foods like yogurt (not the non-fat kind with tons of sugar) or kefir, sauerkraut and pickles. Bubbies

(You don’t even need to make your own–Bubbies naturally fermented products are found at many Cub stores, as well as at Byerly’s and Whole Foods.)

Having trouble imagining that invisible world that is such an important part of who you are?

showdown16x9Spend a few minutes watching this inventive and delightful animated explanation of your microbiome and how it works:

The Invisible Universe of the Human Microbiome
Then go eat an apple.

Next post:  More About Microbes

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