As we become increasingly aware of how our actions affect the world around us, a greater number of us are taking steps to avoid upsetting the balance of ecosystems. There is a growing awareness of our “carbon footprint”, i.e. the impact that we all have on the earth. We know that, if each person takes action to reduce their carbon footprint, we can greatly improve the environment that is currently killing off some species of plants and animals. And before undertaking a construction project of any scale, there are laws requiring us to do a survey to determine its impact on the flora and fauna of that area, so as to ensure that we are not disrupting the ecosystem.
Keep Your Gut Healthy: Your internal ecosystem
Did you know that, within our bodies, there resides another type of ecosystem? It is referred to as the Microbiome, and is comprised of over 100 trillion bacteria, viruses, fungi and gut flora. There are more than 500 different species of microbes. When all of these are working well in tandem, our digestion works well, our immune system is strong and, in general, we are in top health. When this ecosystem is disrupted, however, we may suffer from a long list of symptoms including colds and flus, gastrointestinal issues, memory loss, skin conditions, fatigue, and other illnesses. The balance is sensitive and can be easily disrupted depending on what we ingest.
We are all biologically different and, as such, we all have a different composition of microbes within us. It is affected by our genetic makeup, our health history, our lifestyle and even where we live. Antibiotics (whether synthetic or natural), medications and many environmental factors can also have a negative impact on your internal ecosystem.
The good news
It is not difficult to restore balance when your system is out of whack. One of the easiest ways to restore balance to your Microbiome is through diet. You can help the good bacteria by introducing some natural probiotics from fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kambucha, kefir or others.Use a high quality probiotic supplement and increase your fibre intake (both soluble and insoluble) through fruits, vegetables and seeds. Enjoy some cruciferous and root vegetables, almonds, beans and berries, and add some flax or chia seeds to your smoothies!
The bad news
There is a long list of addictive foods that wreak havoc on your Microbiome. These include sugars and basically, all the white stuff.
Leave the bread behind: the refined carbohydrates turn into sugar and feed the bad bacteria. Plus, the intestinal tract cannot effectively handle gliadin and lectins, which are proteins found in wheat.
As much as possible, avoid processed foods, conventionally raised meats (growth hormones, antibiotics and genetically engineered grains), chlorinated and fluoridated water (use a high quality filter), antibacterial soap and antibiotics.
You can also make changes in your daily environment.
• Open those windows! Now that spring is here, open up the house and allow natural air to circulate through the house. This will improve the health and diversity of the microbes within the home, which in turn supports your system.
• Hand wash those dishes. This not only helps the environment with less energy consumption (reducing the carbon footprint) but also helps your body’s balance. Using the dishwasher eliminates all microbes and bacteria from the dishes, making them practically sterile. This seems like a good thing, right? Well, by hand washing, we leave trace amounts behind and this actually helps our immune system by keeping it stimulated and ready for when it is needed.
• Get your hands dirty. Get outside and do some gardening. Just like with the dishes, this helps to keep us healthy by affecting our immune system (approximately 70% of which is located in the gut).
• Detox. A good detox done under the supervision of a natural health practitioner or nutritionist can help repair, support and maintain a balanced internal ecosystem.
• Get adjusted! Chiropractic adjustments have been proven to boost your immune system… a boosted immune system = fewer illnesses = reduced need to use medications or antibiotics, which can harm your Microbiome.
Our bodies are amazing. Even if we destroy our ecosystem or Microbiome, it is possible to repair it with the right nutrition and support. When an external ecosystem is destroyed, it can take months and years before it is restored. The gut, on the other hand, will start to repair within hours of being supported. In fact, you can often see significant changes and feel better in just three to four days.
So, eat well, breathe well, get dirty, and get adjusted… and remember: A happy, healthy gut makes for a happy and healthy life!