You probably know that we are born with 23,000 of our own genes, but by adulthood we will have acquired an additional 3.3 million bacterial genes. So that means, bacterial genes out-number human genes, by over 100:1!
I was originally taught that our genes control everything. But now I learn that’s not true. It’s not true for two reasons. Firstly because the number of bacterial genes far outweighs the number of human genes, but secondly because we now know that our diet and lifestyle can hugely influence how those genes behave. We may have been dealt a pack of genetic cards, but we have control over how we play them. This is called Epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of how genes behave or “express” themselves because of what they are exposed to in their cellular environment.
We can take control. We can help our genes to work healthily. What we eat, how we move, how we relax, how we sleep, our resilience to stress, our thoughts, feelings and social connections, all regulate our gene expression. We can turn on genes that create health or disease – the choice is ours.
So now think of this, not just in terms of our 23,000 human genes, but all the bacterial genes as well, because they all work collectively together. Bacterial cells and human cells literally talk to each other, especially in the gut, where 80% of our protective immune system is found.
Your gut houses 500 species and three pounds of bacteria. Getting your gut bacteria healthy is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy. Surprise, surprise, our bacterial colonies don’t like antibiotics, medications, artificial hormones, toxic pesticides & chemicals, alcohol, man-made foods and stress. Rather, they thrive on fiber-rich vegetables, low-sugar fruits, non-gluten grains, legumes, fermented foods, healthy unprocessed fats and a good daily dose of exercise and relaxation!
Why not start there, with those simple changes? Give yourself and your genes a helping hand and enjoy how those cards play out into your old age.