Today I have a special video that we’ve created for you. It dives into the startling healing power of your microbiome – a vital part of you that scientists are only just beginning to understand.
Your microbiota are, quite simply, the community of microorganisms – bacteria, viruses, fungi — that live all over you and within you. They’re in your gut, on your skin, in your tissues, glands, blood, bodily fluids… everywhere.
The human body actually hosts ten times as many “non-human” microbe cells as “human” cells, though this has been challenged recently. Either way, we can’t live without them! For example, without the billions of different bacteria that have colonized our guts, we wouldn’t be able to digest our food.
We have a symbiotic relationship with our microbiomes – when our microbiomes are happy and healthy, so are we. We sleep better, we feel more energy… and our immune systems are stronger.
We got the chance to chat with Daniel Vitalis when we filmed Remedy, and he knows A LOT about the microbiome, how to take good care of it (hint: eat the right foods!), and how its functioning is central to a healthy immune system.
His interview shed the inner workings of the microbiome and immunity in a totally different light – check it out below!
00:00 – 01:01: Microbiome is Reshaping Our Understanding of Everything
01:01 – 02:20: More on you than in you – Doughnut Analogy
02:20 – 02:45: Bioterrain Theory NOT Germ Theory
02:45 – 03:30: Modern Experimentation with Probiotics, Prebiotics and Fecal Transplants
03:30 – 04:20: The Roots of Your Microbiome
04:20 – 05:54: What Do Your Bacteria Need To Eat?
05:54 – 07:40: Hunter-Gatherer Bacteria Research
07:40 – 08:33: Microbiology of Birth
08:33 – 09:10: Hygiene Has Devastated the Microbiome
09:10 – 09:30: Microbiology of Herbalism
09:30 – 10:20: NASA Study on Plants
10:20 – 11:12: On Becoming a Cultured Person
11:12 – 12:01: Living like a Hunter-Gatherer Improves Health Outcomes
[Daniel] The understanding of the human microbiome is going to overturn everything we think we know about health, that we know about nutrition,
that we know about medicine. In the same way, imagine how the discovery of microorganisms overturned what we thought we knew about the world.
I mean prior to that, diseases were caused by spirits, right. By vapors or strange winds that came through, right. We, because we didn’t understand that the world was populated, more populated, by microorganisms than by
macro-organisms. Now, we’re starting to understand that our body is populated by them; so much so that you often hear, I think, the two most common things you’ll hear is that you’re 10 times more bacteria than you are human cells, and that you’re several pounds of bacteria.
That’s really fascinating when you think about bacteria in your body, it’s a bit of a misunderstanding, they’re more on your body. And one way to illustrate that is, think about a doughnut for a second.
If you’ve got a doughnut and it’s got that hole in the center, the only way to get into the doughnut is to actually penetrate the skin of the doughnut. If I put my finger in the hole of the doughnut, my finger’s still outside the doughnut.
You’re like a doughnut – stacked up a whole bunch of them and at one end that opening is called your mouth, and at the other end it’s called your
anus. And all that space, that long 30-foot tube that slinks all through you just like the inside of a doughnut hole, is still outside your body.
The only way food gets into your body is to get broken up small enough that it can be taken up into and inside your body. Now, typically we don’t find bacteria inside our body because we’d have an infection if we did, right. And that would lead to inflammation and immune response.
But every surface exterior to us, the whole skin and that includes the skin as it gets up to the lips and as it goes into the mucosa and then as it goes down through the whole tube and then as it comes out as your anus and the skin around your butt cheeks – all that whole thing, the whole doughnut is covered in a tremendous diversity of bacteria, of viruses, of yeasts and fungi. All cohabitating and living on you and inside you,
or at least in the tube.
We used to think that it was that some bacteria got on you, and you were
instantly sick. But it doesn’t really make sense because you think about the times where somebody’s sick around you, and you don’t get sick, and other times you do. And what we’re starting to learn is, ‘oh, it’s not about, necessarily, just what gets on you, but what’s the status of the bacteria in your tube and on your skin, and that their status has a lot to do with your
We’re also experimenting, right now, I think of it as civil war-era trauma surgery, what we’re doing right now with probiotics, what we’re doing with fecal transplants, what we’re doing with skin sprays and taking prebiotics and all these things we’re trying to do, to figure out, mess with, play with, modulate, or manage the microbiome. It’s like how we did amputations in
the civil war, where now we could actually just remove the musket ball and fix the leg. We’ve had more time to work on this stuff.
We are infants in our understanding of our microbiology, but it’s going to lead us in a really good direction. One of the most important things to think about is that you are like the, in a way, the steward or the caretaker of all these organisms, you know.
If you think about a plant, a plant reaches its roots down into soil – you don’t have roots, you have microvilli. They are all of the little finger-like projections on your small intestine and they reach into soil too – but the soil they reach into, unlike the soil in the ground right; they say a handful of soil out of the earth has more organisms than all the humans who’ve ever lived and all the humans alive now combined. Right, it’s microbial-rich.
What’s going on in your intestine is like that too, you put food down in there – you don’t really eat the food, you feed the bacteria that are inside you; they eat the food and they deliver it up through your microvilli into you. In the same way that we have bacterial and fungal associations with roots down in soil, we have a similar thing going on in us and our bacteria kind of feed us.
So the question is not, what do you need to eat? The question is, like, what do
your bacteria need to eat? How do you feed them? We know that one of the most important things we can feed them is cellulose. Now, we typically don’t think of cellulose as a medicine, we think of cellulose as packing material in food, right. Cellulose is what? Wood is, wood is cellulose, right. This house is made out of cellulose. And during that era – and some of those early health
food pioneers – there was this idea that we want to use juice to extract all the good stuff and get rid of the fiber. We don’t need any of the fiber.
Turns out, we do need a lot of fiber because our bacteria need the fiber and they live on that. One of the things you’ll notice when you’re traveling and you start to get a little bit off your diet, and things start feeling a little weird, is
if you can increase your fiber intake you’ll actually feel much more balanced. It’s often not just the fact that you’re eating different food, it’s that your bacteria are kind of thrown out of whack because they’re not getting enough fiber.
Maybe you don’t need enough fiber at all right now, and you need more cellulose, and you need more soluble fibers. Soluble fibers are the fibers that turn to like a gel, they dissolve in liquids. Pectin from fruit as an example. Berries are rich in in pectin, um, fruits are rich in pectin. Things like chia seed that when they get wet turn into a gel, they’re rich in soluble fiber. We want to be getting that stuff and that, like bran, portion or that stuff that’s left over when we juice a vegetable – we need that stuff too. We also want resistant starches, which are in a lot of wild foods. These are, these three fibers together go into our system, nourish our microbiome, they start producing the vitamins, they start producing chemicals that balance our physiology.
So I think we’re like really early in our understanding, but as it expands we’ll probably learn not just how, you know. And there’s been interesting research that’s come out when we’ve looked at hunter-gatherers and said, ‘wait a second, this group who’s very healthy has bacteria in them that make us sick and we don’t understand why.’ And they have bacteria that make us sick. Now, I said that backwards. Yeah.
When we look at groups like the Hadza [Tanzania], we see that they have bacteria in them that we’d get sick from, and things that make them sick we, or don’t they, don’t even have, we think are super, super important. So we’re
starting to realize that your microbiome is a bit of a reflection of your own environment too.
I think until we learn more about it, it’s silly to start playing with the pieces too much. We’re like Mickey [Mouse] in Fantasia, just messing with Merlin’s magic. We don’t understand it, we create chaos. So right now, there’s going to be a big push on probiotic therapies, prebiotic therapies and a host of other civil war-era ideas about how to affect the microbiology.
I think what we are best suited to do is have a diversity of plant fiber in our diet that comes from plants that we’re eating – either good, heirloom produce or wild foods. And that we get out into wild environments and we interact with them. When my fingers are in soil, that soil gets under my fingertips and let’s face it they get in, that gets into your mouth eventually. And if you have
the right cellulose there and you have the right internal environment, some of that stuff’s going to make it through.
When I’m out in ecosystems, I’m getting covered in all, when i handle new
plants I’m getting the microbiology of those plants onto me, and eventually it’s getting into me. Not everything we eat gets totally digested, not everything we cook gets totally cooked, and some of those microbes make it through.
We are going to learn that the way we’ve been having babies, has affected long-term outcomes with regard to microbiology. That there are things that are meant to happen and, for instance, vaginal birth versus cesarean section changes the microbiological outcome of that child, and the initial imprint that they will get. If we had a cesarean section, we would be wise to take vaginal swabs and spread that on the baby, as an example. We’d be wise not to have … we think of the hospital as a sterile environment, but in reality it’s an environment filled with Staphylococcus and other pathogens. We’d be wise not to do that kind of a thing and start having births in the places where the baby’s gonna grow up anyway, right. If the, if the environment’s healthy enough for the infant to come home to, it’s probably healthy enough for that infant to be born into. And then that baby gets exposed to the same bacteria
early in, in the initial imprint that are shared by the family.
Some of our hygiene practices are too strong. In fact, it’s starting to look like, as the picture emerges, that we have a sterility problem in our culture, that we have an excessive amount of hygiene. Now we’ve gone from one swing, to the other pendulum swung too far, and so all of the hand sanitizers and the constant scrubbing and showering and soap is removing huge sections of the organisms that live on us. Additionally, our soap tends to alkalize our skin, which changes the pH, and therefore changes what organisms can live on us. So we’ve been messing with our microbiome haphazardly, and we didn’t
even know it was there. And finally we do and it is going to change medicine.
There are herbs, for instance, Echinacea, as an example, that have been used as an immunotonic for some time. And now, we’re starting to understand it might not be the Echinacea, it might be the bacteria on the Echinacea. So even our understanding of herbalism may change, um, as we come to understand
how bacteria functions in our environment.
Another interesting thing recently I saw was study by NASA looking at how could they absorb all of … Imagine you’re going up in a sealed chamber into space, all the artifacts that are in that sealed chamber are outgassing volatile organic compounds because they’re all new plastics and you’ve sealed the astronaut into this space. How is their health going to be affected? NASA
started looking at, can we use plants to start to absorb some of these toxins? And they found, yes. Typical house plants you go buy at your Home Depot, bring them home, and you can start to pull volatile organic compounds out. But they found that if you covered the soil, interface wouldn’t work as good, that it might not be the plant itself but it might be all the soil bacteria that
are doing that filtering process and sequestering those things down.
So we haven’t been thinking about how we bring novel bacteria into our life. We do have an idea that I think is interesting, and that’s the idea of becoming a cultured person, right. Because how do you become cultured? You travel and as you travel you become more cultured, you visit other cultures, and what is a culture? It’s a group of people who have their own way, and part of their own way, we’re going to find out as we study stuff more, is influenced by all their microbes – their unique fingerprint of microbes that they carry. And if you go visit with those people, you don’t just learn about their society, you get some of that culture in you, on you and you walk away with a little bit of their microbiome too. And so part of being cultured might be really actually, culturing like a petri dish cultures. I think that’s really fascinating. So I think the more places we explore and the more things we get our fingers into, particularly with wild places, the more likely you are to have a healthy microbiome.
The other thing that really stands out to me is that research done looking at fecal samples of a person who ate with hunter-gatherers, found that in three days of eating their wild diet, he could dramatically transform his microbiome from one of a civilized person to one much closer like a hunter-gatherer. And as a result, better health outcomes could happen. So I think we’re going to
find out that our diet dramatically influences and not just whether it’s a good diet or a bad diet, but specifically what species are we bringing in and what composition.
And I think this idea of changing our microbiome by injecting different bacteria onto us is not really going to be the answer. The answer is going to be more about who do we want to grow on us, because we put the food there that those things need.
It’s amazing stuff, I know. Everything we feel and think is influenced in a huge way by these little microscopic critters.
So we’d best make friends with them!
Host of Proven: Healing Breakthroughs Backed By Science
& Founder of The Sacred Science