In all our experience, there is what we see and what we don’t see; what we know, and what we don’t know. And how often do we let what we know be directly informed by what we see? Even in language what is actually said is worth less in communication than looks and tone. Most everyone has probably had opportunity to feel sarcasm and judgment in simple language. (I absolutely love a bit by Eddie Izzard talking about just this – the 70% is how you look, 20% how you sound and 10% what you say.)
So, with the body – there is what we see, which we call a human; but if you looked at what comprised that “human,” you would see we harbor 100 trillion microbes and that, in fact, 9 out of 10 “human” cells don’t even contain the human genome. In the gut alone there are 5600 known unique strains of bacteria just hanging out and loving life. Well, until you flush them down the drain, of course…
Antibiotics can do a serious number on our good bacteria – washing it out with the bad. We often see symptoms of diarrhea and electrolyte imbalance here. I get a lot of questions about how to replenish what gets lost and whether yogurt is a good idea. I am immediately reminded of when I had strep as a kid. It was so painful, and I felt like I could hardly eat anything. At the time, I don’t think anyone in my family had even heard of probiotics, but we definitely knew about yogurt. And I’ll say – sure, it felt great to have something easy to swallow and cool to the throat – but boy, not 2 minutes later came the awful feeling that I wasn’t sure I was able to breathe… oh, mucus! Truth is, yogurt is pretty low in probiotics, and while it may not actual increase mucus in the body, it may increase the viscosity of mucus. And anyone who’s felt the heavy hand of mucus on their breathing can tell you – increasing its thickness is not ideal!
Probiotics, on the other hand, offer the best of both worlds – ranging in number from 1 billion to over 100 billion cells per serving; and quite a few companies are now sourcing dairy-free options. While someone on antibiotics might take somewhere around 24 billion or more cells per day, folks with skin disorders, stress imbalance and low immune health may also benefit from taking these little critters.
In 2011 they did a study on Lactobacillus rhamnosus in mice and found that the strain was able to actually reduce stress-induced corticosterone and subsequently modulate behaviours associated with anxiety and depression. In fact, 95% of the body’s serotonin is in the gut. Want to feel groovy? Think bowels! Want your kids to stay in school? Think bowels!
In 2009 they showed kids who supplemented with probiotics for 6 months had fewer sick days and missed less days due to illness than their peers. And kids have the upper hand in disease prevention – if you want to prevent eczema or allergy, you know it… consider probiotics!
So if we are in part what we “aren’t,” consider where our lives might overlap with the lives of others. What do we share in common? How can we treat the lives of others–humans, animals, or other–with the same “humanity” each deserves? Be kind, and always consider that in any situation, there may be more there than meets the eye!