It’s time for a gut check on preventing illness: Laurel Hopwood

Guest columnist Laurel Hopwood, RN, BSN, volunteers with Cleveland Ohio Patient Advocates (COPA).

Picture a busy city where people are hustling to get to work. Now imagine this at a level only seen through a microscope. Not thousands, millions or billions of commuters. Rather, trillions of bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses doing their jobs.

Known as the microbiome, these miniscule microbes are traveling inside our bodies — primarily in the stomach and intestines.

Some may not consider this a subject for the dinner table. But perhaps it should be. Why?

It’s well documented that a healthy microbiome helps to build a strong immune system and protect us against pathogens. How about a win-win scenario in which people make food choices with the goal of having a healthy microbiome and thus reducing their risk of any illness — including COVID-19?

Probiotic foods contain beneficial live microbiota that can improve one’s microbiome.

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Help improve your gut health

We've tested and included those suitable for people with allergies

We’ve tested and included those suitable for people with allergies

Bacteria get a pretty bad rap. Never more so than during a pandemic, when we are disinfecting everything that crosses the threshold of our homes and scrubbing our already dried-out hands with alcohol sanitiser for the umpteenth time that day.

Germs have become public enemy number one; they put the fear of God into us.

Killing all bacteria, however, would be hugely harmful to human life.

Whether we would like to admit or not, our bodies are home to 100 trillion microbes, which keep us healthy. Many of the microorganisms we play host to live in our digestive tracts and make up what is called the gut microbiota or flora.

Significant advances in exploring the human microbiome have been made in labs in the last two decades.

We now know that poor gut microbiota diversity is associated with several health

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