The idea that our macro-environments (our external world) determines so much of what goes on in our micro-environments (our internal world) is especially true when we are talking about our gut health and our micro biomes!
From a very young age I was extremely passionate about both the environment and about healthy eating. Growing up I actually used to yell at my parents if they idled their cars for longer than 10 seconds, I banned them from using plastic water bottles in our house, and even threatened that I would spray paint any fur jackets I saw people wearing on the street with the colour red (luckily for my parents I never fell through on that last one)! My passion for healthy eating also began to grow and grow the older I got. Around the age of 7 I decided I didn’t really like hamburgers, hot dogs, or pizza and instead would ask my mom to cook me much more elaborate meals. I wasn’t sure why at the time that I decided this, but looking back I think I intuitively knew I didn’t like the way those “convenience foods” made me feel. At the age of 11 I swore off fast food and haven’t got back since!
As I reflect on how I’ve cared about both the environment and nutrition for so long, I realize part of the reason I love my job so much as a holistic nutritionist focused on regeneration, is that I get to merge these two passions of mine, every single day! I now understand the science behind looking at our health from a lens that considers both our environments and our nutrition! Our health is extremely multi-faceted and so as much as it’s important to make choices that support us as individuals, we also must always be thinking about making choices that also support our greater world. The good news? Most often these choices go hand and hand!
Why must we consider our macro-environment when thinking about our micro-environment?
- As it stands, 75% of air and water in the southern United States are contaminated with glyphosate¹ (the most commonly used weed killer worldwide) and the rest of the world isn’t far off from that! Even if we are eating organic food, we are still exposed to high concentrations simply by being alive!
- It’s estimated that by 2050 the amount of plastic in our oceans will out weigh the amount of fish in the oceans.² Not only this but, scientists have found micro-plastics in 114 aquatic species, and more than half of those end up on our dinner plates.⁵ Plastic is an endocrine disruptor for humans and it’s bi-products have been found to be highly carcinogenic. This is extremely sad as fish are thought to be some of the most nutrient dense foods we can eat – however with such high plastic concentrations, this is no longer the case!
- We are depleting soil at a rate 10 times faster than we can replenish it here in North America and 40 times faster than we can replenish it in India and China.³ A healthy teaspoon of soil contains between 100 million and 1 billion bacteria.⁴ These are the very bacteria that go on to feed our microbiomes. As humans, we have more bacteria cells than we do human cells and therefore we need to ensure we are getting the diversity of bacteria we need to thrive from healthy soil via the food we eat!
How to use your Macro Environment to support your Micro Environment?
- Garden! Growing your own food is one of the very best ways to support your gut health and our environment. Feel free to start small with just a single kale plant and work your way up. Just be sure to garden without gloves on! Not only will you be getting to eat amazing food, you will also be helping to sequester carbon and exposed to all sorts of amazingly healthy bacteria within the soil around you!
- Get into nature! Forests, waterfalls, mountains, oceans, etc. While you’re there, be sure to touch the trees, moss, leaves, and even dirt. Feel free to rub it around your hands to ensure you are being exposed to all that healthy bacteria!
- Walk barefoot in the grass, on the beach, or in any other places you can
- Travel to new places – either by driving to a new place somewhat near you in nature that you have never been or going on a vacation to a new place in the world where you can immerse yourself in nature!
- Meet new people to expose yourself to their biomes. Be sure to hug them or shake their hands 🙂
- Eat outside, preferably sitting down on the grass or dirt
- Expose yourself to animals like dogs and cats!
- Avoid chemical based cleaning products or overly sterile environments
- Care for our mother earth! In every way possible! Compost, avoid single use plastics, refuse disposable cups and takeout, eat organic, avoid factory foods and factory farmed animals, attend protests, write to government officials about the importance of taking action on climate, or get involved in any other way that you feel called to do!
I can’t state the significance enough – the more diverse in bacteria the MACRO environments in which you are exposed to, the more diverse your microbiome will be. This will result in feeling amazing! You will likely notice improvements to your digestion, mental health, immunity, skin, and hormone balance! So be sure to go ahead and expose yourself to all sorts of new and natural environments to ensure your optimal health!