It seems to be coming more and more apparent that the human body is little more than a cluster of bacteria. From the moment we are born (especially if we are born through vaginal birth) our guts are lined with bacteria. These microorganisms seem to be more important than we have realized and not having enough of the good ones is being linked to a range of diseases. Research is showing that the bacterial flora can influence almost all if not all of our bodily functions, including mental health.
“Gut feeling” and colon cancer
Colon cancer has been in the limelight lately and it seems that we are being programmed to believe that the only thing we can do to protect us from it is to undergo colonoscopy when we reach a certain age. While having a colonoscopy is probably a good prevention if you have polyps that need to be removed it is not a procedure without side effects that in some cases can be serious. What if there are measures that we can take for protection that are easy and risk free? Measures like making sure that we have a healthy flora of gut bacteria? Researchers have found that certain types of bacteria called fusobacterium that are very rarely found among the usual gut bugs flourish in colon cancer. They also found that other types of bacteria that typically live in the gut are depleted in colon cancer tissues. Colon cancer has also been linked to low diversity of gut bacteria and research is beginning to show that a diet rich in probiotics discourages colon cancer. A recent Harvard study found that changes in diet quickly alters the types of bacteria living in the human gut, we’re talking about within a day. Keeping all this in mind it seems about time that we are being advised to watch what we eat and keep our gut flora healthy as a way of prevention.
How do we cultivate a healthy gut flora?
There is not much research to be found in regards to what would be the best diet to cultivate a healthy gut flora. What most seem to agree on (including the Mayo clinic) based on experience is that eating fermented food like sauerkraut, pickles and vinegar could help as well as eating fruits, veggies and yogurt cultivated with probiotic bacteria. Staying away from processed food and sugar, t.e. the typical western diet, seems to be important too.
Yet again we are reminded of the importance of staying healthy with a natural diet.