Your Health and the Microbiomes in Your Gut & Garden -
Conservation Education Workshop July 2016
"It turns out that we are only 10 percent human: for every human cell that is intrinsic to our body, there are about 10 resident microbes — including commensals (generally harmless freeloaders) and mutualists (favor traders) and, in only a tiny number of cases, pathogens." - Michael Pollen
If our bodies are 90% microbes then we should be paying attention to them!
Affectionately referred to as "bugs", the microorganisms that live on our skin, in our mouths, and throughout our intestines make up the ecosystems (microbiomes) in our body. We evolved with these microbes and depend on them to properly function and stay healthy.
As a gardener, one of my favorite subjects is healthy soil, more specifically growing a living soil (read more about that HERE).
Without the microbes in the soil plants are not as able to fight pest and disease (immune response) and get the nutrients they need (both of which actually sounds strikingly similar to our human need for microbes).
So what is the connection between healthy soil microbes and healthy gut microbes?
"...the flow of health is bidirectional. In other words, our choices directly influence the farm’s health, which, in turn, impacts our health. For this reason, composting is a way to nourish local farms and ultimately fortify ourselves. I encourage patients to protect the soil like they protect their bodies. While many of us are aware that chemicals used in the soil might be harmful to us, we rarely consider how products that we use on ourselves or in our homes—such as triclosans, VOCs, parabens, PBAs, PVCs, and lye—might affect the health of the soil and its microbes...Certainly, any chemical that decreases microbial diversity [(antibiotics, steroids, and other bactericidal drugs)] will, in turn, decrease the nutritional value of our food." - How Dirt Heals Us
A big take-home for me was that our lives are inexorably tied to the lives of the trillions upon trillions of microbes that we interact with everyday in our environment and on our bodies. So instead of treating them all like foe lets embrace them, cultivate them, nourish them as friends.
A great place to start that is in the soil:
- If you are a home gardener do what you can to make a happy home for soil microbes. As Daniel pointed out, "compost is a pro-biotic for the soil." And the more roots in the ground the more microbes will form mutual relationships with the plants around the liquid carbon pathway.
- And when you buy vegetables and produce make sure it comes from a source whose practices support healthy, living soil...the best way to ensure this is buying for local farms (Ask them about their soil practices! Are they organic? Do they use herbicides and pesticides? Even better, what are they doing to grow a living soil?)
What can we to to encourage our health through the health of our microbiome?
Hana shared with us how the research doesn't point to one specific formula for healthy gut microbiomes, instead it shows our bioindividuality (turns out we each are all unique and special and that's good!) is key.
The most important thing appears to be DIVERSITY.
Here are some steps to take:
- Eat real food from healthy sources, aka PLANTS, in what ever way that feels good to you - raw, cooked, lots of greens, etc.
Note: the body biota make minerals available to our body but only if those minerals are there in the first place!
- Make sure you have lots of "bugs"! Inoculate your body with good bacteria by eating fermented foods like kimchi (basics and recipe HERE).
Tip: "Every culture has their'culture'"- When you travel seek out that region's ferment and try it! Your gut will be treated to a healthy dose of new beneficial microbes, increasing your microbiomes diversity (remember diversity leads to health)
- Remember other lifestyle factors:
More info in Hana's Handout HERE.
Check out more photos from the workshop on Facebook!
Upcoming Workshops in the Conservation Education Series:
Canning 101 - Aug. 17th
Dryland Farming & Cover Crops - Aug. 24th
Here is the workshop PRIZE winner taking home her CSA basket of vegetables for Tierra Vida Farm. That's right, there is a prize drawing at every Conservation Education Workshop!
Dr. Jason Hawrelak – pre-biotic & pro-biotic specialist www.probioticadvisor.com
Summer Boch – fermentation specialist & educator www.summerbock.com
Andrea Nakayama – functional nutritionist & my mentor www.replenishpdx.com/microbiome/
Some of My Best Friends Are Germs - NYTimes - Michael Pollan
Microbes can play games with the mind - Science News - Laura Sanders]
How Dirt Heals Us - Yes! Magazine -
Workshop Handout "Growing Healthy Bugs and Bodies" - by Hana Renee
"Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ" by Giulia Enders
Eat Local Produce – Tierra Vida Farm is offering a Harvest CSA beginning August 10th. Talk to Daniel tonight or email him Daniel@tierravidafarm.com
Health & Nutritional Coaching – Bio-individuality is real. If you are struggling to figure out what your body needs to be healthy Hana offers a free 30-minute strategy session. Schedule one by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Hana Renee: Health Coach, Reiki Master, and Yoga Teacher of Peaceful Warrior Wellness- " In 2011 my body was covered in an oozing rash, my immune system was a mess, and my belly was always bloated (plus gas, diarrhea, and constipation). I couldn't sleep but I couldn't get out of bed either. I was unable to get outside to climb, bike, run, or hike. I was determined to regain my health and after years of education, research, and experimentation I have come to understand one simple truth: health starts in the gut."
Daniel Fullmer is the owner and operator of Tierra Vida Farms, a market garden committed to growing the most nutrient dense vegetables possible at the base of the San Juan Mountains. Daniel says "Soil health is essential for quality and production in the challenging mountain conditions of the Desert South West. Soil is the home for plants, it is where they get their food, water, and protection. Roots are not simply straws sucking water and nutrients from inert dirt. Roots form a living connection to an entire underground community of micro organisms that rely on plants to deliver energy from the sun through the roots and into the soil, feeding those micro-organisms. "