The more I read and delve about the human microbiota, the more fascinated I am. Did you know for instance, that our first microbiota colonised us when we slid out of our mother in a vaginal birth? The microbiota we are exposed to via our mother’s vaginal microflora forms the basis of the microorganism colony we host throughout our life. Research in fact tells us that babies delivered via C section actually have a completely different set of microflora and a special effort needs to be taken to establish a good colony of microorganisms across a c-section baby’s body.
Science tells us that we contribute only 1/10th of our cells. The balance 9/10ths of the cells that form the total of our bodies is contributed by microorganisms. So a good team of microorganisms literally makes the difference between health and ill health for us.
Western Science is still not finished with finding out just how much our gut health infuses everything we do, and I mean EVERYTHING.
For example: A helicobacter pylori infection is many times the cause of gastritis or ulcerative colitis. Research tells us that if left untreated, this also affects the gut brain axis leading to co-morbidities like depression, anxiety and if left untreated, Alzheimer’s diseases. So the right bacteria can keep you both happy and healthy. And the wrong bacteria can leave you both ill and depressed.
This is perhaps why Ayurveda is so concerned with the gut and the outer surface of the body. Every good ayurvedic Vaidya will first figure what you eat, how you eat it, how much you eat, when you eat and how you eliminate it. And this will form the basis of everything your body will end up doing. Similarly Ayurveda is quite obsessed with what you apply on your person – your hair, your skin. The connection between what you apply on yourself and your health is very well established in Ayurveda. In fact many powerful herbs are delivered via the skin itself and can influence the organs within your body when simply applied on your skin.
Last week, we did a post on the Krya page about our acid mantle and how it is formed on the skin and scalp. This acid mantle is our body’s first resistance barrier to all disease and is formed by a tag team of us and all our friendly symbiotic micro organisms. When we are a good host to our symbiotic bacteria, they multiply and form a robust acid mantle for us keeping our disease and help us heal quickly.
But if, on the other hand, we are a careless and downright cruel host, we can just kill them and send them away, leaving huge gaps in our acid mantle for parasitic and hostile bacteria to colonise us instead.
The single greatest health decision you can make is to constantly think about your microbiota and figure out what keeps it intact. So here are 6 ways we think you could help your microbiota:
- Always oil your scalp and hair using cold pressed vegetable oil and Ayurvedic herb based oil. This oil tends to be mildly acidic and helps feed your microbiota well and supports your natural fatty acid sebum secretions. The oil and the herbs feed your microbiota promoting the growth of symbiotic, helpful micro organisms.
- Avoid harsh cleansers anywhere on your person. A single soap bath or the use of synthetic shampoo can severely damage your acid mantle taking you days to restore it. Always use a natural hair or skin cleansing product with no synthetic surfactants. This is why Ayurveda limits the use of plant surfactants only to hair cleansing. Skin is usually only cleansed using oil, grains, lentils and herbs.
- Avoid petroleum based conditioners, or skin moisturizing products. They do not support the healthy growth of microbiota on your acid mantle and also clog the scalp and skin.
- Avoid using very hot water to cleanse your skin or hair. Heat destroys your acid mantle.
- Always rinse your mouth in plain, clean water after every meal or drink. The presence of a high amount of sugar in your mouth alters the oral microbiota promoting bacteria that cause dental cavities. Rinsing your mouth in plain clean water after every meal or drink allows friendly bacteria to colonise your mouth.
- Cut down sugary food, artificial sweeteners, and transfats in your diet. These tend to promote the growth of hostile bacteria and change the quality of your natural oil secretions, attracting harmful micro organisms.