Westernization is Killing Our Gut Microbes

Gut flora, biodiversity, microbiome, probiotics- these words are used so frequently today that they are at risk of one day becoming little more than trendy health topics.

To stay on the path to vibrant health, though, it is so important that we don’t fall into that trap. Antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals, pesticides, radiation and an unhealthy western diet have damaged our gut microbiomes (one of our most important natural defenses and deciders of our present and future health) so incredibly, that drastic steps must be taken to correct them.

Nowhere is this damage more obvious than when we look at the flip side- the microbiome of cultures that are isolated from western society. Genomeweb.com recently released an article on a fascinating study that looked at the gut and skin biodiversities of a long-isolated tribe in the Venzuelan Amazon called the Yanomami. It is believed that this tribe has had no known contact with the outside world before 2008.

The article reports that the Yanomami gut microbiomes were TWICE as diverse as those of typical Americans!

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that an exposure to westernized cultures reduces man’s gut biodiversity.

Studies such as these really stress just how important it is to make choices that support and rebuild our gut health. These strategies are key:

  • Take probiotic supplements on a daily basis- make sure that they offer a wide array of bacteria in large numbers
  • Choose non-GMO and pesticide-free produce
  • Avoid foods that help the bad bacteria overpopulate your gut, such as processed carbs, sugar, glutinous foods, additives, preservatives and most artificial sweeteners
  • Choose antibiotic-free meat, grain-fed livestock (not corn-fed if possible) and wild fish
  • Load up daily on a variety of fresh vegetables and good fats (omega 3, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and organic butter)
  • Add home-made fermented vegetables to your diet- they are loaded with good bacteria
  • Avoid radiation from such things as smart phones, computers, smart meters, microwaves, baby monitors, etc. as much as possible
  • Exercise regularly and get sufficient sleep.

It is easy to become complacent with health strategies that appear to be “trendy” right now but might not be such a mainstream topic of interest in the near future. But healing the gut is not and will never be just a trend – the research coming out now is groundbreaking and will forever change the face of what we consider to be a healthy lifestyle. In fact, many researchers and doctors now believe that the study of the gut’s microbiome is the future of health care and disease prevention.

It’s time for us to start undoing the damage that westernization has had on us- and to not lose sight of the gut’s incredible and enduring importance.



“Study Reveals Microbiome Diversity, Antibiotic Resistance Genes in Isolated Amazon Tribe,” www.genomeweb.com

“The Microbiome of Uncontacted Amerindians,” http://advances.sciencemag.org/


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