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How Your Gut Impacts Your Metabolism and Genetic Expression
As time goes on, we're gaining more and more information about the important roles gut flora plays in maintaining overall health. The good news is that this is an area you can exercise a lot of control over. Your diet can quickly alter the composition of your gut flora. Processed foods high in sugar and chemical additives and low in nutrients is a surefire way to decimate the beneficial bacteria in your gut, allowing the harmful pathogenic kind to thrive.
Research has also shown that your microflora has a significant impact on gene expression, such as the genes responsible for vitamin biosynthesis and metabolism. Probiotics have been found to influence the activity of hundreds of your genes, helping them to express in a positive, disease-fighting manner—some of which affect your body in a manner resembling the effects of certain medicines!
A recent study published in the journal Natureiii found that "gut microbial communities represent one source of human genetic and metabolic diversity." According to the authors:
"To examine how gut microbiomes differ among human populations, here we characterize bacterial species in fecal samples from 531 individuals, plus the gene content of 110 of them. The cohort encompassed healthy children and adults from the Amazonas of Venezuela, rural Malawi and US metropolitan areas and included mono- and dizygotic twins.
Shared features of the functional maturation of the gut microbiome were identified during the first three years of life in all three populations, including age-associated changes in the genes involved in vitamin biosynthesis and metabolism.
Pronounced differences in bacterial assemblages and functional gene repertoires were noted between US residents and those in the other two countries. These distinctive features are evident in early infancy as well as adulthood. Our findings underscore the need to consider the microbiome when evaluating human development, nutritional needs, physiological variations and the impact of westernization." [Emphasis mine]
Three Global Varieties of Gut Bacteria
You might not be aware of this, but scientists are now busy mapping the microbes in your body in much the same way as they mapped the human genome. The Human Microbiome Projectiv was launched in October 2008, with the goal to catalogue all the bacterial inhabitants in the human body. Researchers have identified most of the microbes in the human gut, but they still don't know much about the actions of each individual microbe, or how they work together. An article published in Wired Magazine last year discussed this fascinating workv. It also features an illustrative graphic of the primary microbes found in humans across the globe. vi
According to another study, also published in the journal Naturevii last year, each of us harbors one of three primary "communities" of bacteria. The health ramifications of each are still being teased out.
According to Wired:
"In terms of function, each of the enterotype-defining genera has been linked to nutrient-processing preferences — Bacteroides to carbohydrates, Prevotella to proteins called mucins, or Ruminococcus to mucins and sugars — but far more may be going on. "Exactly what they are doing in there is still to be explored," said Arumugam, who also mentioned enterotype-based differences in drug metabolism as another possible implication of the findings."
The Ideal Way to Optimize Your Gut Health
The ideal balance of beneficial to pathogenic bacteria in your gut is about 85 percent good bacteria and 15 percent bad. Maintaining this ideal ratio is what it's all about when we're talking about optimizing your gut health. Historically, people didn't have the same problems with their gut health as we do today for the simple fact that they got large quantities of beneficial bacteria, i.e. probiotics, from their diet in the form of fermented or cultured foods, which were invented long before the advent of refrigeration and other forms of food preservation.
You can ferment virtually any food, and every traditional culture has traditionally fermented their foods to prevent spoilage. There are also many fermented beverages and yoghurts. Quite a large percent of all the foods that people consumed on a daily basis were fermented, and each mouthful provides trillions of beneficial bacteria—far more than you can get from a probiotics supplement.
Here's a case in point: It's unusual to find a probiotic supplement containing more than 10 billion colony-forming units. But when my team actually tested fermented vegetables produced by probiotic starter cultures, they had 10 trillion colony-forming units of bacteria. Literally, one serving of vegetables was equal to an entire bottle of a high potency probiotic! Fermented foods also give you a wider variety of beneficial bacteria, so all in all, it's your most cost effective alternative.
Fermenting your own foods is a fairly straight-forward and simple process, and can provide even greater savings. To learn more, please listen to my interview with Caroline Barringer, a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) who has been involved with nutrition for about 20 years. She's now one of Dr. Campbell-McBride's chief training partners, helping people understand the food preparation process.
Thank You Dr. Mercola
God Bless Everyone & God Bless The United States of America.
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