Thursday, December 12, 2013


The human body has approximately 100 trillion bacteria in our intestines. This is a number 10 times greater than the total number of human cells in the body. We are vastly out numbered by our intestinal flora. The metabolic activities of these bacteria are similar to that of an organ to process our food. It is interesting to note that these gut bacteria have a combined total of 100 times as many genes as there are in the human genome. Somewhere between 200 to 1000 different species live in the intestine.This is an extremely beneficial symbiotic relationship. These bacteria ferment unused energy, train the immune system, prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria, produce vitamins and provide a host to store fats. This baterial culture is call the human microbiome. I submit the host to this genetically enriched culture is a bateriavore (look it up, this is actually a word).

It is important to understand these special bateria as we consider our food system. The human microbiome has typically dined on whole, natural and traditional foods. The processed and manufactured foods of our current generation are foreign to our microbiome and frankly the other microbes in our world as well.

In the food factory goal to create shelf stable products that can last 6-12 months or longer before deteriorating we have synthesized foods with 30, no 50 ingredients, and with chemical names that we cannot even pronounce. The reason they have such astounding shelf life is they cannot be metabolized by the bacteria and fungi of our planet. Yet we are expected to eat these processed food creations and it is no wonder that we as a society find our health slipping away from us.

I have heard a story about a class room of third graders that had a vermicomposting (worm farm) bin at their school. They were requested to make a test by several local gardeners using "manufactured foods" from their school lunches and the gardeners provided whole foods - apples, carrots, natural bread, and a grass fed steak, which were buried in the worm bin beside a hot dog, Wonder bread, a Lunchable and a Twinky. The test was concluded a week later when the children ran to the compost bin to check on the worm's progress. What they found was the whole foods had been totally consumed and the manufactured foods were left untouched and in fact were perfectly preserved. Even the worms would not eat them.

One of the Ivy League Universities ran a lab test on corn flakes where the rats that were fed the box that the corn flakes came in lived longer than the ones fed the "enriched" corn flakes, but both groups died prematurely in the end.

As bacteriavores we need to eat whole foods like those found locally at your community farmers market. A good guideline is to never eat foods with more than 5 ingredients or where any of the ingredients are unpronounceable. Also, beware of foods that have been advertised in national TV or print. Many of the national food brands are now advertising they are "local". I think not, beware and be on your guard.

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