Germs. As comedian Rodney Dangerfield would have said, “They don’t get no respect!”
In fact, before the 19th century, when people were not even aware of germs, hand-washing was just to wash off obvious grime and dirt.
Since the “germ theory of disease” was developed by Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch in 1861, society has increasingly transformed our view of germs — those we have always lived with and newer varieties to which we have inadvertently given rise — into an “us versus them” War on Germs.
Even before the recent pandemic, both hand-sanitizer mania and fear of dirt have changed our evolutionary relationship with germs.
The Child Who Eats the Most Dirt Wins?
First-time parents are sometimes worried when they see their toddlers touching, tasting and biting almost everything they come in contact with. Part of this “sampling” is related to teething, but part is to build up the immune system.
The first thing young T-cells learn is to tell the difference between stuff we can use, and is good, and stuff these cells recognize as an “invader.” Every exposure mobilizes T-cell defenses, and the more frequent the exposure, the more powerful and well-trained our immune system will become.
That’s where the “child who eats the most dirt wins” part fits in.
Humans, including children, were not “meant” to spend most of their lives indoors in sterile and sanitized environments.
In fact, it’s believed, by some experts, that the huge increases in allergies and asthma in kids in recent years may be partly due to the weaker immune systems that result from lives lived inside.
Some of us remember that when we were kids there were no hand sanitizers. We played outdoors in the dirt and mud, along with other people, shared candy and soda, and even got sneezed and coughed on occasionally!
And miraculously we survived!
In all seriousness, though, it’s no surprise since only about 1 percent of the 60,000 germs that people come into contact with each day are unwanted ones that could cause sickness.
So, let’s face it, we are germy beings, naturally covered by microbiota, both inside and out, and that’s the way we humans, according to nature, are supposed to be.
Plus, we have anywhere from 30 to 400 trillion gut bacteria in our gut, and when we keep them in balance then our body, digestion and immune system are happy.
Gut Bacteria 101
The trillions of gut bacteria do so much for our body, and control so many things, that scientists now say that the human microbiome — the sum total of all of our bacteria — is actually another organ!
It may come as no surprise, then, that this new organ — that has been unrecognized as such for about 6 million years — requires proper care and feeding.
For instance, if we don’t give our gut bacteria the right amount of protein, fats and micronutrients, then our digestive tract can’t do its job of absorbing nutrients.
Gut bacteria — and a correctly working microbiome — also play major roles in supporting cardiovascular health, immunity and brain health, plus reducing the likelihood that we will become obese.
Gut Health and the Power of Protein
Regular digestive wear and tear requires frequent repair. If we add inflammation, bowel challenges or other gastrointestinal issues to the mix, then we need additional protein and other nutrients to help the gut heal itself.
Eating more good protein, like the non-GMO soy protein in each serving of Almased, helps us digest the protein we consume more easily, because more protein enzymes get released and set to work.
Soy, in fact, contains four major components that can improve the composition of the gut bacteria in a prebiotic way: fiber, oligosaccharides, isoflavones and, as mentioned, protein. Prebiotics are food components that feed good bacteria.
In addition to protein, fats, vitamins and minerals, we also need amino acids to feed the gut and help heal and rejuvenate the gut lining.
Feeding the Gut
Healthy gut-friendly eating includes live cultured foods, as they work wonders to support a healthy balance of bacteria. Choose fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, pickles, miso, sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha.
These living foods help to metabolize nutrients, fend off unwanted “bugs,” and maintain healthy function of the gastrointestinal tract.
Protein and amino acids, like those in Almased, encourage natural healing, both supporting the health of intestinal mucosa and of the immune system, 70 percent of which resides in the gut.
Plus, the cultured yogurt in Almased, which comes from pasture-raised cows, contributes to the fermentation in the product that your gut loves.
In addition, the high-quality raw honey in Almased feeds the fermentation process and makes our good gut bacteria happy.
So, there you have it. Germs, in particular good bacteria, are central to life and gut health. It’s great that we have protein-rich, gut-friendly Almased to help them thrive!