//: human microbiome, the full array of microorganisms (the microbiota) that live on and in humans — Encyclopedia Britannica
The human microbiome contains trillions of microbes, whose critical functions are still not fully understood. Likely, the health of the microbiome is most impacted by microbial diversity and balance more than any single species of microbe.
Generally speaking most probiotic supplements are not able to replicate the diversity of microbes found in the human and soil microbiomes. Another important point to remember with probiotic supplements is that their effect only persists while you are taking them, and for about 3 days afterwards.
Amazingly, even though there are trillions of microbes in the human microbiome, the diversity of the human microbiome is only 10% of that of the soil. The decrease in diversity of the human microbiome is attributed to our modern lifestyle (with 83% of the US Population now living in urban areas) including reduced contact with soil, hygienic measures, antibiotics, low fiber diets, and processed foods.
At The Chef’s Garden we farm regeneratively with a focus on the health of our soil and the microbes contained in the soil. We support the microbes in our soil by:
- Using cover crops.
- Minimizing tillage.
- Minimizing use of pesticides and herbicides.
- Using non-GMO seeds.
There is a close linkage between the soil microbiome and the human intestinal microbiome and we know that due to agrochemicals, low plant diversity, and other soil management practices (like tilling) that soil microbial diversity is also decreasing. Importantly, organically grown vegetables show higher biodiversity of microbes than those conventionally grown. Also, there is concern about the impact of GMO crops and what effect those have on the microbiome around the plants root area (called the rhizosphere) and the soil microbiome.
Along with the decrease in both human and soil microbial diversity we’re seeing a corresponding rise in rates of diseases related to the human microbiome.
There is so much that you can do to help support your microbiome and importantly dietary intake has a stronger influence on the composition of your microbiome than your genetics. This simple fact is huge and means that we can influence the health of our microbiome simply by the foods we eat!
Support Microbiome Health by choosing vegetables that are:
- High in fiber (>25 grams daily total).
- High in prebiotic fibers which feeds the microbiome and supports the health of the intestinal lining.
- Grown in healthy soils, with rich microbial diversity.
- As close to their natural whole form as possible, avoid peeling root vegetables when possible.
- Freshly harvested.
- Regeneratively grown without or minimal use of pesticides and herbicides.
- Not containing genetically modified organisms.
- Consumed raw or lightly cooked when possible.
- Colorful! Eating a diverse array of colorful vegetables increases the intake of phytonutrients which act as anti-inflammatory and antioxidants in the body.
A few of Dr. Amy's favorite lifestyle tips for increasing microbial diversity are:
- Stop using “antibacterial” everything! Our war on microbes is selecting for more resistant and virulent strains and disrupting the microbial balance of our skin, mouth, and household. Skip the antiseptic mouthwash. Castile soap is an effective way to wash your hands, body, and home without exposure to antibacterial agents. Here is a great website for home cleaning products.
- Get dirty. Really. Spending time in the dirt is beneficial for your microbiome! A great way to do this is to plant a small garden that you can tend regularly.
- Get outside, take a hike and do a little forest bathing! Being in nature is a great way to support your microbiome.
- If you smoke or around someone who smokes, it’s time to quit. Smoking impairs the health of the microbiome affecting the composition and function.
- Talk with your healthcare provider about if your medications could be negatively impacting the health of your digestive tract.
At The Chef’s Garden we grow our vegetables regeneratively in harmony with nature. We know that healthy soil, grows healthy plants, which nourish healthy people. Our vegetables are harvested to order and shipped overnight so that you are receiving freshly picked nutrient dense vegetables straight from our farm to your doorstep.
If you are interested in improving your digestive health you may consider trying our new Digestive Health box which features vegetables known to support gut health.