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Microbiome Optimisation - the vital key to health!

May 5, 2024

By Karen Unsworth Berger, BAA, TFH

The micro biome of the population has never been as compromised as it is today.  This is due to our exposure as a culture to multiple stressors that did not even exist before 2005 or so.   These include exposure to poor quality industrial/manufactured foods, extremely high PUFA diets, (Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids from vegetable and seed oils), medications and anti-biotics, substance abuse, chemicals, heavy metals, moulds, and most recently EMF/man made radiation which on it's own, appears to be a priority cause of gut microbe destruction. Those suffering from EHS (Electro Hyper Sensitivity) may be especially compromised. (There are easy solutions listed below!) 


Gut health is directly related to mental/brain health including dementia and depression, and at least 80% of our immune system is dependent on a healthy gut micro biome. Gut health is also directly linked to metabolic health, healthy weight and blood sugar management.  


It is not possible to be healthy without a healthy gut micro biome.   Any of the above stressors on their own could destroy the balance of healthy gut bacteria and microbes such as Akkermansia, partially because they all individually can cause mitochondrial dysfunction - imagine the compounded effect all at the same time, often 24/7.   The mitochondria produce the energy required to maintain an anaerobic environment in the large intestine - healthy gut microbes die when in contact with oxygen.  It takes a lot of energy to maintain this environment, and when mitochondrial function is jeopardised, there is there is not enough energy to maintain the environment, and bad microbes proliferate and take over. 


The good news is it is relatively easy to restore your and optimise your micro biome...

just be aware and vigilant. 


The gut lining regenerates every 3 days, and the microbial balance can change daily, depending on exposures and diet..  To make the process easier for your body and create a regenerating environment, the first step is to mitigate your home environment from un-necessary stressors (see below) such as EMFs/man made radiation, chemicals in foods, personal care products, cleaners, plastics, cooking utensils such as teflon non stick etc, then follow the protocols as described below.   


Restoring Your Healthy Micro Biome: 

Mitigate stressful factors in your home such as EMF/radiation, chemicals, mould, then focus on diet...  If you have a lot of extra weight and bloating, keep in mind you may not be ready for starches.  Stick with the healthy foods below that you do well with, then try a little organic white rice from time to time and see how you do.  A healthy balanced diet is priority - sticking to a high vibrational organic foods comprised of mainly:


  • Organic vegetables (it's their fiber that is vital for a healthy micro biome).  The "front line" of fiber vegetables include bok choy, green beans,  yams only if well boiled to remove oxalates, green or red/purple cabbage, celery, onions,  boiled carrots (boiled re. oxalates), fennel, squash, radishes, radish in salads.  Peas (frozen are find) and asparagus also contain good fiber. 
  • common organic culinary herbs support the mitochondria, and have compounds beneficial to the micro biome and support the high fiber vegetables - include 1/4 tsp per meal of the herb blend, and add lots of fresh chopped herbs such as lovage, cilantro, sage, thyme, and chives

  • Organic common culinary herbs can be used as a potent energy booster to power up your meals, as well as use as a tea. 
  • some fruits (note that if your gut balance is very off you may not be able to tolerate fruits until more balance is achieved) such as tangerine/clementines (not oranges), small amount of blueberries, 1/2 organic banana at a time, mango, red grapefruit
  • pastured eggs, beef/veal, lamb, wild low mercury fish such as sardines packed in water, mackerel, anchovies, herring, and occasional wild sockeye salmon
  • good fats such as organic coconut oil for frying, pastured butter or ghee, Greek olive oil (a lot of Italian is adulterated by the Italian Agro mafia).  Use pastured butter in baking, and a small amount on vegetables. 
  • some fermented goat's milk products such as kefir and yoghurt, goat's cheese, and some naturally fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and beets, and kimchee.  Make sure your cheeses are made with animal rennet, not "vegetarian", which is a greenwashing term for genetically modified bacteria.  Most commercial cheeses today use this. 
  •  Organic white Jasmin rice does not have a lot of nutrition on it's own but is an excellent starch if your micro biome is reasonably good. Turn a meal into a superfood meal by loading it with optimising vegetables and lots of fresh herbs such as cilantro, lovage, sage,  and the dried herb blend. Avoid whole grains and most grains in general, but for baking, you can substitute light spelt flour for wheat, as it is lower in gluten and easier to digest.  White rice pasta is preferable to semolina wheat, but IF you must deviate for the family, only buy pasta made in Italy, such as De Cecco or Rummo brands.  They are not allowed to use glyphosate as a wheat desiccant before harvest, as is done in North America unless wheat is organic. 


Avoid these foods: 

Avoid chemical and pesticide laden processed foods, GMO foods - look for non GMO labels.  Avoid fast food restaurants and frequent eating out! 

  • Be aware that more than 1 cup of coffee per day can cause issues in the micro biome in some individuals, and cause weight gain due to blood sugar handling imbalance. If you are used to having 2 cups, replace the 2nd cup with  the micro biome supporting Power Herb Tea Blend below (see #6). Coffee should be organic. 
  • conventionally raised meats and animal products (look for pastured or at least organic), as the animals are typically fed antibiotics and GMO foods, which will deplete your micro biome. 
  • vegetable and seed oils (omega 6/linoleic acid) such as commercial salad dressings, baked goods and fried foods, chicken, pork and farmed fish.  Avoid or minimise all nuts and seeds due to high oxalates and omega 6 fats - nature designed them to have a stressful effect on digestion (they are literally like a "kick in the gut")  If you love nuts, a few a day such as walnut halves may be acceptable in extreme moderation as walnuts are higher in Omega 3 fats. Shelled hemp seed is also acceptable as it is also high in Omega 3 - up to 1 T per day. 
  • nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, sweet peppers, eggplant) as they are toxic, inflammatory, low energy foods despite the fact that they contain some beneficial nutritional elements.  The overall impact is negative.  Of course they contain nutrients, but their "anti nutrients" far outweigh the benefits. 
  • high oxalate foods including nuts and seeds, which can increase gut inflammation and pain. One on the biggest health disasters is the popularity of almond milk, which is very high oxalate.  Two of the highest are spinach and other green leafies, almonds, potatoes, beans/pulses - so are dates, figs, rhubarb.  Boiling high oxalate vegetables well, helps to remove the oxalate as it is water soluble. Yams and carrots are fantastic foods but do contain oxalate - boiling is effective in removing the oxalates. 
  • Sugars: processed foods are typically high in sugars and bad oils.  hard alcohol and beer - quality red wine such as Sardinian is fine in moderation.
  • Follow a low or no gluten diet - light spelt flour is a good alternative to wheat for baked goods - avoid whole grain as the shell of the grain contains nature's chemicals that make it indigestible and hard on the gut.   Most North American non organic wheat contains glyphosate, so if you deviate, eat only ORGANIC wheat products.


You are going to get most of these "baddies" all at once, eating from fast food restaurants - even finer restaurants as they typically use farmed fish, conventional "CAFO" animal products, and are not organic.  I find that Japanese restaurants often have menus that are quite easy to navigate - just avoid their tempuras and other fried foods - order steamed instead of fried rice, etc. 


It's a widespread problem today. 

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, by 2018,  97% of the population was metabolically inflexible with a compromised micro biome, which is directly related to metabolism and healthy weight management.  This has to be due to our increased exposure to the above stress factors, and now with 5G, is may be even a higher percentage than that.  Once your home environment is cleared and supportive, diet is the main factor and that is very much in your control.


First, Mitigate!  

You can start on a micro biome friendly diet today, but for better, faster results, begin basic, simple mitigation in your home environment to remove the basic environmental stress factors as much as possible.   This can dramatically lower your body's stress baseline dramatically, so that healing is faster and easier. Why subject yourself to un-necessary environmental stress that you CAN control? (There are enough stressors today which we can't control!)  This includes EMF/radiation,  and xenoestrogens from plastics, chemicals, and moulds, and next time you have blood tests, ask to be tested for heavy metals such as mercury - these factors are often overlooked but are vital to achieving a stable, healthy microbiome.  Any of these factors alone can harm the micro biome, but imagine what can happen when we are exposed to them all at once, 24/7?  IT SHOULD BE EASY!  


Chemicals are typically found in non organic foods, processed foods, personal care products, fluoride oral hygiene products, cleaners, cooking utensils such as teflon non stick pans, and fire retardants in new furniture and mattresses. (See my blog article "The Natural EMF Protocol".)  Buy organic mattresses or one without fire retardants (some use eucalyptus leaves), and/or spray your old mattress lightly all over with structured water which is a good detoxification agent.  (To structure water, stir a glass of pure filtered or spring water briskly 40x left then 40x right creating a vortex, then pour into a sprayer.) 


Chemicals in most plastics deserve a special note because they contain xenoestrogens which mimic the natural hormone molecule.  They attach to estrogen receptors in the body and falsely raise our estrogen levels - not good news for the micro biome! Plastic water bottles are especially toxic - use a good water filter, and other common sources of include air fresheners, personal care and laundry products, canned foods (plastic liners), receipts, tap water, and cleaning products.

 

Mold is totally invasive and exposure to mold and musty/mildew alone can completely compromise your micro biome health on all levels because of endotoxin.  It must be completely eliminated ASAP. Until it is cleared, open windows, and use a diffuser with oil of oregano to kill spores. You can also spray with oil of oregano - about 35 drops in one cup of water.  This 


Reduce EMF/radiation exposure by turning off wifi at night, keeping cell phones on airplane mode (especially at night), keep your router away from frequently used areas, hard wiring computers and keyboards/mouse - avoid anything wireless, especially ear buds and bluetooth, and get corded land line phones - cordless phones are hugely stressful. 


Use only natural home products/cleaners, use 1 cup of vinegar as a fabric softener also to clear your clothes and linens of stressful energies, turn off your router at night (see my blog article "the Natural EMF Protocol" for other mitigations), open your windows for fresh air every day (even just 5 seconds in winter), and ask your doctor to have your blood tested for heavy metals in your next routine blood test.   


Download the free "Yuka" App!   

Have some fun with this free App called Yuka - you can scan the barcode on your personal care items and it rates them from Bad to Excellent, depending on the ingredients. It's a great help, and It's actually fun to go through your items with others (there will be a lot of "OMG"s!) and to share the app.  It can be pretty shocking!   It will also rate foods and tell you why they are rated that way, however I have found this to be subjective when it comes to fats - for example it may rate something bad as it contains saturated fats, which are healthy and necessary, and much preferable to vegetable and seed oils.   


Mitochondrial energy may be the priority factor - mitochondria are the energy producers in all of our cells (except red blood cells) and their ability to produce energy is severely compromised by all of the stress factors noted above, including highly processed foods.  Without sufficient energy, they cannot sustain the anaerobic environment in the large intestine required by the good gut bacteria.  These bacteria such as Akkermansia die upon contact with oxygen.  If you are frequently fatigued, this is a clear indication that your mitochondria are not producing enough energy. 



7 Priority Tips!

(Always check with your doctor before adding supplements to your routine - they may not be appropriate for you personally, depending on health and medications.)  You may want to implement the first two for the first few weeks to kick start a healthy change, or you can cycle them in for a few weeks any time in the future if you feel you need it.  

 

1. Chlorophyll:   This is short term for a few weeks when you begin your programme.   Take 2-3 capfuls (see photo) 2 x day in 1 - 1 1/2 cups water.  A good time to drink this is first thing in the morning, and before bed.  If I am doing a heavy metals detox, I take chlorella with it. 


2. Activated charcoal:  This is something you can take occasionally - I take it once a week..   Use this to help the body clean out the digestive tract by absorbing toxins.  I have used Organika brand.  Take it 2 hrs away from other supplements as it will absorb the nutrients and render them less effective. 


3.  Turmeric blend drink:     I have found (through testing) this short term drink acts like a probiotic in the large intestine, and helps to kick start a healthy gut balance.  Add 2 tsp of the below blend with 1T raw honey in 1 cup warm water (boiling will kill the probiotic benefits in the honey).  Sip throughout the day.  If you don't like the drink, you can put the blend into 00 size gel caps, and take 3 over the course of the day.   Drink it every day for the first 10 days, then reduce to about 2-3 days a week.  If you are exposed to more than usual of the "badies", drink it for  a few days in a row after the exposure to help the micro biome recover.  To make a "batch" of the turmeric blend, use organic ingredients

In a glass jar, combine:


3T turmeric powder

4 tsp ginger powder

1 1/2tsp black pepper. 


(Optional: when you make your drink, add 2 tsp bee pollen for extra micro nutrients and B vitamins.) 


4.  Probiotics - diet and gardening:   In cycles, take a good probiotic such as Metagenics Ultra or Garden of Life:  2/day with meals.  Take it for about 3 weeks, then every few months as needed. Avoid sanitizers and anti bacterial products/soaps, wipes as they also "sanitize" the healthy microbes.


 Goat's milk kefir is one of the most effective probiotic foods I have found.  I stir in 1/8 tsp of the below herb blend into 3/4 cup kefir to energise it, and take your probiotic with it.  If your micro  biome is seriously compromised, drink this 2 or even 3 x day for a few days or until you feel more balanced. 


Also, feel good about getting your hands and feet dirty in your garden to expose your skin to healthy soil microbes, and ground yourself at the same time.  I actually didn't realise HOW significant the earth factor is until I started testing this protocol, and it constantly came up as a priority for people.  Do as much gardening as you can (safely) with bare hands and feet - if you must wear gloves occasionally, wear cotton gardening gloves when possible as cotton is conductive.   


5. Grounding: As mentioned in #4, gardening with bare hands and feet supports the micro biome not only through contact with healthy microbes, but also grounding.   We are designed to absorb the earth's energy through the soles of our feet, but all leather shoes including soles were replaced by rubber soled shoes and synthentic linings around 1960.  This transfer of energy has been blocked ever since, as rubber and most synthetics are not conductive.  Do your best to get bare feet or at least cotton sock feet on the ground at least 1/2 hr/day (ideally 1 hour per day or more).  Spend as much time as you can grounded and look for ways to incorporate it into your lifestyle.  Look for activities where you can be grounded. 


Gardening in-ground plants (without rubber gloves - cotton is fine if you need protection) provides excellent grounding.  Better still take of your shoes if conditions allow.  Swimming in the ocean is the ideal grounding, walking on the beach at the wet shoreline is excellent, damp grass (or any grass), stone, brick, and concrete such as concrete steps and even condo balconies, are all conductive.  So is leather (such as all leather shoes with no synthetics).  Wood is not conductive


6. Power Herbs and Power Herbs tea (ideally with lovage):   Numbers 5,6 and 7 are the priorities to maintain for a long term healthy gut micro biome.  Even if you just do basic home mitigations, and focus on these 3 steps, you can dramatically improve your gut health quickly.


 Add 3/4 tsp of the below herb blend to a large mug, add 2 cups boiling water, let steep until most herbs have sunken to the bottom of the mug - about 10 minutes.  Sip throughout the day.  Increase the energy of meals and extra micro biome support by adding about 1/4 tsp herb blend per meal if your blend contains lovage, 1/2 tsp if it does not. You can also add fresh herbs such as organic cilantro as extras.  If you have fresh chives in your garden, this is also very micro biome friendly. 


If possible try to include lovage in your blend.  Lovage is not widely available in shops, but quality nurseries often sell the small plants which grows quickly to about 6' tall once it's established, and spread easily - it is hardy perennial, requires little water, and spreads well via tuberous roots. If you have access to lovage, it is a powerful addition to the blend and you will need less of the blend in total - 1/4 tsp/meal instead of 1/2 tsp.  


You can dry lovage leaves easily yourself by placing them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet,  and drying in the oven at 180F ("warm" temperature) for 30 minutes.  Then crumble and store in a glass spice jar. (You can use the same procedure for drying sage, except it may require 40 minutes as the leaves are thicker.)  This is very concentrated and you don't need much of it for great benefit - about as much as you would use of black pepper.   The fresh leaves look much like celery leaves - You can also chop a few fresh leaves into a meal, or simply chew on a few fresh picked leaves. 


Combine dried herbs in a small bowl and pour into a glass herb jar: 

3 tsp sage (2 tsp if using your own home grown dried sage, as it tends to be stronger)

3 tsp thyme

4 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp lovage

1/2 tsp black pepper


7.  Vegetables:  Focus on getting 3-4 portions a day of organic low oxalate vegetables and add the thyme herb blend to all of your meals.  Have any of the below vegetables with lunch or dinner to feed the good gut bacteria. These vegetables should be spread out a bit throughout the day, such as one portion at lunch, and two with dinner.  This will also help to stabilise blood sugar levels.

The main reason for including 3-4 portions per day, is that we need the micro biome friendly FIBERThis is key.   


It is not always easy to get even 3 good servings into the day - I tend to cook up a larger portion, such as 1/4 red cabbage, and eat some for lunch as as snacks over 2 days.   Cycle between these excellent fiber cooked vegetables, and combine them as you like.    

The best fiber is in bok choy, green beans,  yams only if well boiled to remove oxalates, green or red/purple cabbage, celery, onions,  boiled carrots (boiled re. oxalates), fennel, squash, 6radish in salads.  Peas (frozen are find) and asparagus also contain good fiber. 


Basic culinary herbs have compounds beneficial to the micro biome and support the high fiber vegetables - include 1/4 tsp per meal of the herb blend, and add lots of fresh chopped herbs such as lovage, cilantro, sage, thyme, and chives.  


Summary

A healthy, balanced gut micro biome is vital for long term physical, metabolic, and mental health, but is almost impossible to maintain in today's environment unless we are consciously aware of this and take steps to assure our healthy gut microbes.  It's EASY, and works quickly. 


Do your best to reduce stress in your environment so your body doesn't have to waste energy compensating for needless stressors.  It's a good idea to include a quality probiotic at least in the beginning, and possibly the other supplements mentioned if appropriate for you - check with your health care provider..


Long term, get into the habit of regular grounding.  Make a big pot of herb blend tea every morning and sip it throughout the day and evening - bring a flask to work... and get 3 servings of high fiber cooked vegetables spread out over every day - even if you pre-make them in batches to last 2 days and eat them as snacks between meals, or figure out what works for you to work it easily into your lifestyle.


EXTRA NOTE ABOUT THE ESSENCE COLLECTION

If you have read my article about the gemstone essences, Rose of Melissa essence - obviously not a gemstone, but part of the full collection - is supportive to the energy of the micro biome.