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VV FOOD AND HEALTH

The Guts of Gardening

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We live within a sea of micro organisms.
We breathe in about 860,000 bacteria every day, we eat and drink them in, and shed them from our bodies in a continual stream.
 
Our individual gut biology (or more correctly our 'gut microbiota') is especially unique. 
It's not only influenced by what we eat and where we live, but we also inherit it.  Called our microbiome, this microbial community exceeds cells in the human body by a factor of 10.
Can you believe our intestines carry about 100 trillian microorganisms, and their mass weight ranges from 200 - 1400 grams?
No wonder that this community of micro organisms has an overwhelming impact on our health.
Don't kill the microbes
 
Beginning with Louis Pasteur, many human maladies were attributed to bacterial infections in the gut.  Biocides such as antibiotics and alcohol based products were formulated to kill these bacteria, but in recent times growing numbers of bacterial species have become more and more resistant to the biocides.
 
We know that microbial populations are composed of both beneficial and pathogenic organisms. A safer way to manage pathogens is not to kill them with anitbiotics, but to ensure there are enough beneficial organisms to overwhelm the “bad” guys.
 
A healthy balance is the key.
 
Antibiotics versus probiotics
 
Think of your gastrointestinal tract as a rainforest with a balanced ecology comprising hundreds of species of microorganisms.  Antibiotics are the metaphorical clear cutters, and although they may destroy some pathogens, they also destroy the beneficial organisms.  A single dose of antibiotics can wipe out the beneficial strains of bacteria for up to six months.
 
The best way to fight infection is to have a strong immune system in the first place and the right balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. If a pathogen enters your system, with a healthy immune system your natural defences can fight it off.  This understanding has led practitioners towards the therapeutic use of probiotics (beneficial bacteria) and away from antibiotics, Instead of giving a drug to wipe out the enemy, specific strains of beneficial bacteria are given to reinforce the body’s natural defenses. Supplementing the friendly bacteria gives pathogenic bacteria less chance of survival.  
 
The probiotics naturally present in your gut are the most effective at fighting infections.  You can purchase commercial probiotics in supplements, but the natural way to get probiotics is from the food you eat and from the soil.
 
Soil probiotics
 
In a healthy gut, the microbiology is similar to the microbiology of the soil.
A healthy gut has a huge diversity of of microbes that mobilise against pathogens, ensuring the optimal functioning of your gut. 
Likewise, "soil microbiomes" work on the same principles. The root ball of the plant is the "gut" or intestinal tract of the plant. In botanical terms, it's called the rhizosphere, and it houses microbes just like the human gut does, provided the soil system is healthy.  A diverse soil biology ensures greater availability of minerals and sugars for your plants and protects them from disease,  Correct levels of soil acidity allow minerals to be transformed into sugars which can then be taken up by the roots and metabolised by the plant. 
 
The new frontier in growing food is leading biological research into soil probiotics by focussing on increasing diversity and complexity of the soil's “microbiome”. 
Imagine a little plant getting the optimum food possible from a rich fertile soil...it will grow up strong and healthy, resistant to pathogens and diseases, and provide us with healthy food that is nutrient dense and life enhancing.
Probiotics are indispensable for optimum soil health, as they are to human health.
 
BUT, get this...ingesting soil based organisms and probiotics is now known to be more effective than commercially available probiotics.
 
Pick your own probiotics
 
Those lovely rows of washed vegetables in the supermarket are devoid of the important bacteria that is essential for our gut health. 
 
In previous times, our food was picked and eaten straight from the field.  The soil bacteria remaining on the food was crucial for protecting us from bacterial and fungal overgrowth in our intestines and regulating our immune systems.  So it's no surprise that the bacteria mix in our gut flora has changed dramatically from our ancestors 100 years ago.  Our guts now have a greater amount of lactic acid based bacteria (like lactobacilli and bifidobacteria) and less soil based bacteria.
 
Probiotics derived direct from the soil have the advantage of quickly and easily getting through the hostile, acidic environment of our stomachs and into our intestinal tract where they colonise the gut and work more effectively.  They also remain in the gut longer than lactic acid based bacteria.
 
By planting your own vegetable garden and picking your own food, you'll gain the full health benefits of soil probiotics.  Even more so if you enhance the bacterial diversity in your garden soil.
 
Catalyst
 
At Vital Veggies we use an extraordinarily diverse source of soil biology, one of which is Catalyst. This product contains a balanced mix of around 200 different bacteria, fungi and archaea, and is one of the secrets to what makes a Vital Veggies garden grow so well. 
Plants love it because it helps them absorb and metabolise more nutrients from the soil so they grow up strong and healthy.

 
When we eat food grown in a biological garden we get the pro-biotic effects of that biology together with a level of mineralization in the food which isn't normally present in commercially grown produce. Diversity in the soil and our food leads to diversity of our gut probiotics, providing multiple pathways to overcome pathogens, metabolise nutrients and to revitalise for good health.
 
“Food is my medicine and medicine is my food”
attributed to Hippocrates 460 to 370BC
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