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The Macro of Microbiomes

Like everybody else, I’ve got it in my head to live forever. And just like everybody else, there’s no way I’m gonna. But that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna to try. And it starts with taking care of myself now so when my bones start to creak in a few dozen years, they’ll creak a whole lot less.

I think it’s good advice no matter where you are on life’s journey. Except that conventional health wisdom changes faster than dresses during a pre-night-out fashion crisis. One day, fats are the enemy. The next, carbs. Or not. Who knows?

Not me. But I do feel like I know at least this much: whatever we find out about living longer in the next bunch of years, I think our microbiomes are going to be a big piece of that puzzle.

Everybody has a microbiome. It’s what they call all the (usually) friendly bacteria that live inside us, mostly in our digestive tract, where they help us digest food. But that’s not all those gut bugs are doing. Apparently they’re a key part of our immune systems and may even help prevent some seriously ugly diseases.

I just read about how one kind of microbiome bacteria actually helped mice avoid certain kinds of cancer and live four times longer. I know—crazy, right? But science is science, and this science says our microbiome probably plays a major-league role in reducing inflammation, which is a huge trigger for cancer not to mention a whole lot of other bodily bummers. (I’m looking at you, Alzheimer’s…)

You have to kind of pull at all the threads here to see the connections, but our bacteria help zap inflammation and inflammation can lead to cancer, etc. so whatever we can do to beef up our microbiome helps prevent disease. Probably in the future we’ll all be going to bacteria clinics. But for now “health care” to me means eating probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and the rest. It’s a daily homemade yogurt smoothie from now ‘til forever. Give me 80 years and I’ll let you know how it works out.


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