Seabourn Club Herald - - MINDFUL LIVING -

o two peo­ple pos­sess the ex­act same mi­cro­biome. Each of us in­ter­acts with the di­verse mix of mi­crobes that call us home, those healthy for us and those po­ten­tially harm­ful, on a con­tin­u­ous ba­sis. As long as an op­ti­mal bal­ance ex­ists be­tween the or­gan­isms that are health-pro­mot­ing and the pathogens among them, we live to­gether in har­mony, as well as in ways that are mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial. For ex­am­ple, the gut mi­crobes liv­ing in­side us get en­ergy from our bodies and the foods we eat. We de­pend on those same mi­crobes to break down com­plex nu­tri­ents for us to ab­sorb and for the pro­duc­tion of cer­tain vitamins. We need each other. How­ever, when that op­ti­mal mi­cro­bial bal­ance is al­tered in ways that fa­vor harm­ful or­gan­isms, a disease con­di­tion re­ferred to as dys­bio­sis may oc­cur.

The makeup of an in­di­vid­ual’s mi­cro­biome de­vel­ops early in life, but it can change as a re­sult of fac­tors in­clud­ing where and how you were born, where you live and where you have trav­eled, in­fec­tions, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals (es­pe­cially an­tibi­otics) and diet. The mi­cro­biome typ­i­cally re­turns to base­line un­der con­di­tions of good health, but even rel­a­tively brief al­ter­ations can have con­se­quences. This is be­cause the mi­cro­biome has a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the way our body func­tions, from the way we digest our food and ab­sorb nu­tri­ents, to the devel­op­ment and proper func­tion­ing of our im­mune sys­tem. A per­sis­tent dys­bio­sis that fa­vors pathogens may con­trib­ute to dis­or­ders as var­ied as de­pres­sion and au­toim­mu­nity, autism and obe­sity, di­a­betes and even cancer. One of the rea­sons that my anti-in­flam­ma­tory diet is so ef­fec­tive is that it sup­ports a healthy mi­cro­biome through the in­ges­tion of fer­mented foods such as sauer­kraut, kim­chi and yo­gurt con­tain­ing live, ac­tive cul­tures, as well as a va­ri­ety of brightly col­ored veg­eta­bles and fruits and high-fiber foods that pro­vide an en­ergy source (some­times called pre­bi­otics) for the

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