“We are More Microbe than Mammal”

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Microbiome

image from New York Times

Listening to the first 10-minutes of a Chris Kresser Revolution Health Radio podcast this morning, I experienced delight at learning from his discussion with Jeff Leach of the American Gut Project about the emerging science around gut health.

Here are a couple of gems from just the first 10 minutes of the podcast:

JL: “Ninety percent of the cells in the human body are not even human; they are microbial…”

JL: “What’s really remarkable is: not since Darwin’s concept of natural selection has something had such a profound impact on our understanding of self. In our anthropocentric world we think we are the center of it all, but at the end of the day the microbes are actually pulling the levers… At the gene level, they outnumber us 150-300 to 1.”

Much more fascinating stuff there… I can’t wait to listen to more and read more on the subject.

On the same subject, I recently ran across a fun and useful metaphor “Where is the Hippo?” in a blog post on Gut Flora Repair on a blog called Cooling Inflammation by Art Ayers, PhD. He describes how a zoo that has giraffes and elephants but no hippo can build an beautiful environment/enclosure for a hippo and stock the enclosure with food and have it all lovely and ready for a hippo. But having an enclosure is not enough. Unless the zoo actually introduces a hippo to the enclosure, the zoo will only continue having giraffes and elephants. I’ll leave the rest to you to make the connection with your gut flora (or click on the link above to read more from someone much more articulate about it…)

Thanks to my increasing awareness about the importance of a thriving microbiome, I have stepped up my efforts to get a hippo/feed my gut family. This week I started making a fermented beverage called water kefir (pronounced kuh-feer). It started with a SCOBY (Symbiotic Community of Bacteria and Yeast) that I purchased online to which I added some water and sugar and left on the counter to ferment for a couple of days. It takes on a refreshing effervescent sparkling quality that some people flavor with fruit. I look forward to experimenting with it (and sharing the SCOBY as it reproduces. Anyone interested?), but for now I just wanted to share the fun quote of the day in the subject line and note a few of the perspective-changing ideas being shared on the subject.

Please, please, please read the quote down below the picture (not the caption, but do read that too), with the link to the NYT article on Some of My Best Friends!

Here’s to gut health!

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Water Kefir started with a SCOBY and fermenting on the counter to make a refreshing, gut nourishing, hippo introducing beverage that will help restore good bacteria to my microbiome.

More articles I want to read:

Some of My Best Friends are Germs“, New York Times: “Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford, suggests that we would do well to begin regarding the human body as ‘an elaborate vessel optimized for the growth and spread of our microbial inhabitants.'”

How Mood & Gut Health are Linked” The Paleo Mom, Sarah Ballantyne, PhD

Tending the Body’s Microbial Garden“, New York Times

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