Did you know that the thought of “catching a cold” is not the whole story? Yes, exposure to germs that make their way into your body through breathing or your mouth is part of the equation. However, there are also many kinds of germs – bacteria, virus and fungal living inside of you, waiting for the opportunity to multiply exponentially and make you sick. The opportunity comes when you are run down, your immune system is weak and these invading forces try to take over.
Interestingly, bacteria far outnumber us! Fortunately, they are not all bad. There are approximately 1 trillion cells that make up your body and at any given time there are around 10 trillion bacteria in or on you. If you look at genes, human have around 30,000 genes and yet the bacteria living in and on you contain 100x that number of genes.
Bonnie Bassler delivers a fascinating talk on how bacteria “talk” to each other to support our health – the good ones – and destroy our health – the bad ones. This short talk is an excellent overview of extensive research on how bacteria communicate with each other and the implications that these conversations have on your health. Bassler points out that bacteria talk within species, between species and always control disease progression by attacking together. The good bacteria also work together, not as passive riders but as an invisible body armor – inside and out – to protect us from the environment and to support the immune system by communicating ongoing status of pathogens. In other words, these good bacteria not only “have our back”, they have our whole body covered.
Why is this important? Because just like in any war, the ability for the good guys to communicate and the bad guys to lose communication is key to winning the battle. From the view of nutrition, it makes a great deal of sense to create an environment in your gut that is welcoming to the good bacteria and inhospitable to bad bacteria. Prebiotics and probiotics as well as many herbs and nutrients support this but there are also some things that you can simply do with diet that are supportive. Here are some tips to get started:
- Soluble Fiber is very useful through foods such as lentils, beans, vegetables, brown rice, wild rice, etc..
- Apples are great for restoration – eat 1/day or more if you like them.
- Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (Bragg’s) = 1-2 Tbs before each meal.
- Coconut Oil – up to 4 Tbs-spread out throughout the day for restoration, 2 Tbs/day for on-going suppport.
- “The Page Type Diet” – Follow for 30 days, with the removal of all fruit, sugar, bread, pasta, soda, etc. The closer you are able to follow it, the faster you will get results.
- Adding “Kefir” to the diet as well as lacto-fermented foods can restore GI flora balance.
Bonnie Bassler, PhD is a professor at Princeton University where her research focuses on the quorum sensing, the mechanism by which bacteria communicate. She is an excellent speaker and is utilizing her skills as one of the Nifty Fifty scientist who are working to ignite enthusiasm for the sciences in middle and high school students.