Most of us have been brought up in clean, healthy environments with well cooked foods, hands cleaned with soap as often as possible with sterilized kitchens and food heated to high temperatures to destroy any bacteria. Because really, who wants bacteria, it can cause all sorts of issues including diarrhea, gastro and in some extreme circumstances loss of limbs or even death. It’s quite a serious issue. But not all bacteria is bad.
We are naturally full of bacteria, with millions of the miniscule things per square inch in the gut of a healthy person. Some are good, some bad. But the only time they become an issue is when the bad bacteria become more predominant than the good. The less good bacteria we have, the easier it is for the bad bacteria to come along and take hold.
Only recently have people started to make the connection of a healthy gut to a healthy body. It obviously has an influence on how we digest our food. Without a healthy gut, we can’t make use of all the nutrients that we eat no matter how good our food is, because we just don’t digest it as efficiently as we should. But one of the most interesting facts is that our immune system is directly related to our gut health. If you have issues with your immune system, maybe it’s time to look inside your gut for the problem.
I actually read an article recently (read it here if you like) from a guy who spent time in Africa with the Hadza tribe of Tanzania. Some of their food handling techniques would have the health industry in a huge panic with what they do. The Hadza are your typical African hunter gatherer type tribe who have very little contact and no habits from the Western world. Pretty much 100% of their food is sourced from the plains of Africa, just as our ancestors would have done thousands of years ago before we got so “smart”. What they do has been done for many centuries and obviously works, or they would not have lasted this long!
Anyway, the author of this article went out with the tribe on a hunt to see what actually happened out there and how it affected their gut flora. They managed to catch an impala and strung it up in a tree to butcher it. No sterilized knives, no refrigerated rooms, just the dirt, dust, sun and heat of the African plains to deal with it. This impala was carefully pulled apart, the stomach and its contents were placed in the hide that had just been removed and all the other internal organs placed separately.
This is where things get interesting. They then proceeded to clean their hands with the partially digested grassy contents of the stomach and dried off with fresh grass. They actually used all the stomach microbes to clean their hands. Once the stomach was roughly cleaned, it was cut into bite sized chunks and eaten, completely raw. They cleaned the colon of its contents, cooked it for a very short amount of time (quite rare by the sounds of it) and ate that!
Don’t get me wrong here, I am in no way condoning that we go out and eat an animals colon, I couldn’t think of anything worse. But it appears that we as clever Westerners, have disconnected so much from our natural state, that our guts are far too weak to handle the onslaught of microbes as the Hadza’s do on a daily basis.
There are ways we can improve our gut health with less extreme measures. You may have heard of probiotics (the opposite to antibiotics) which are a good idea, especially if you have been on a course of antibiotics. But they can be costly. So keep your eyes peeled for next weeks post where I will explain how you can make your own probiotics at home at a much lower cost. Without having to revert to colons or stomach linings for your food!