What Do Microbes Do for Your Body?
When people think about microbes (microorganisms), they immediately think about things that make you sick. Although it’s true that microbes are composed of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, they can also be very beneficial in helping your body with regular functions, such as digesting food and maintaining your reproductive health.
In fact, microbes protect your body from all kinds of infections and can help in preventing some types of diseases. They also help your immune system fight off diseases that could be harmful to your heart, as well as many other organs.
People often worry about fighting and destroying the bad microbes, which, in the case you are experiencing the flu or a cold, would be helpful.
But more importantly, you should be more concerned about taking care of the good microbes and making sure they are doing their job.
What Do the Good Microbes Do for Your Body?
The beneficial microbes are found in your gut bacteria, and they help your immune system function properly.
Good microbes digest fiber and produce short-chain fatty acids, which are extremely important for your gut health. Healthy gut microbes can also help support brain function by supporting the health of your central nervous system.
Bacteria can help break down toxins and sugars (carbohydrates) while assisting with the absorption of fatty acids that your cells need in order to grow. They also help damaged tissue while protecting your intestines from pathogens.
How Many Microbes Do We Have in Our Body, Anyway?
Believe it or not, you have trillions of harmless microbes living inside your body right now. They outnumber your own cells by about ten to one, and there are approximately 100 trillion bacterial cells compared to the average human cells of just ten trillion.
We know, we are talking trillions, and that can be scary, but you shouldn’t be scared because most are there to help you and play a rather big role in your overall health.
What Are the Benefits of Having Microbes?
Considering there are bacteria everywhere in our bodies and that they cumulatively weigh close to 3 lbs (as much as a human brain), it can be your first line of defense when it comes to protecting your body against pathogens that can wreak havoc on your health. Each person’s bacteria is considered to be a personalized collection.
Since the moment you are born, you are collecting different forms of microbes. As you go through life, your environment will contribute to your bacteria.
This can play a major factor in how strong your immune system is. All these microbes that are living on the inside and outside of your body are actually protecting you from nasty pathogens. You want the good bacteria to take up more space in your body so that the bad bacteria can’t grow.
Microbes protect you from many things, including protecting you from auto-immune diseases and helping to keep weight within a normal range. They help us ferment foods and aid in digestion all while producing some chemicals that help shape our metabolic rates. They can also help with fighting off stress. With trillions of microbes supporting you, there’s not much they don’t do!
How You Can Promote Good Microbes
You’re probably wondering if there is anything you can do to promote more healthy bacteria in your body. While there are things you can do to promote good microbes, you should also know that your body naturally does a good job of producing these cells as is.
Here are some simple tips for achieving better gut health:
- Stop eating highly processed foods - they can often promote bad bacteria and suppress the good stuff.
- Gradually increase your fiber intake - if you think your diet might be low in fiber, be sure to increase it slowly to avoid bloating and excess gas.
- Choose foods that promote healthy bacteria - consider adding more vegetables, fruits, and nuts to your daily diet. Vegetables and fruits are high in fiber and promote the growth of good bacteria.
- Eat more whole grains - these carbs actually promote the growth of some good bacteria as they are broken down by the microbiota in the large intestine. Your metabolic health could improve from these changes in your gut flora.
- Introduce more probiotics to your diet - you can get more probiotics by simply eating more yogurt with live cultures or by taking probiotic supplements. Try to avoid flavored yogurts as they contain very high levels of sugar.
- Expand the variety of your diet - choose to eat a wide range of whole foods to help create a diverse community of microbes in your body.
- Be careful with taking antibiotics - if you need to take antibiotics to kill some bad bacteria that is making you sick, be sure to eat more healthy probiotic foods to boost the good bacteria that was lost with the bad.
- Boost polyphenols - these plant compounds have a lot of health benefits such as reducing cholesterol, inflammation, and blood pressure. Try adding a few of these to your daily diet: blueberries, dark chocolate, almonds, broccoli, and or a glass of red wine or a cup of green tea.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners - they can have negative effects on your blood sugar and insulin levels.
Fighting Bad Bacteria
You can help keep your bad bacteria in check by feeding your body nutritious foods, incorporating more probiotic and prebiotic foods or supplements, and getting the recommended amount of sleep of seven to eight hours each night.
Upping your greens is another way to fend off bad bacteria; this can be done by eating more leafy greens or by taking an enzyme supplement to promote better gut health.
It also helps to keep your body in a calm and positive state, including the mind. Try adding meditation or breathing exercises to your daily regimen along with some type of activity that keeps your bones and muscles strong. Taking a daily walk in nature does more for your body and soul than most people realize.
Tailoring your daily diet to include foods that help promote good bacteria is essential to your overall health. Be sure to add a nice range of whole foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and other healthy food sources for optimizing your gut health.
Remember, your microbes play a crucial role in your gut health and keep you healthy for many years by supporting you in more ways than you could ever know. Be sure to take care of them as much as they take care of you by eating healthy and supplementing when needed!