My Obsession with the Microbiota

I have vivid memories learning about animals, nature, and microorganisms in my Science and Biology classes in elementary and in high school.  Some of these vivid experiences include a visit from an organization at the time called Living Science, if I am remembering it correctly, that came to our school when I was in the fourth grade.  They came with live animals.  There was an owl, a parrot, a mammal that I can’t remember what it was, and a baby corn snake.  I will never forget the feel of the little yellow and white beautiful corn snake wriggling in my hand.  It’s body felt warm, smooth, and muscular.  It was thrilling and I loved it!

I also remember in Science class looking at amoebas underneath a microscope.  I was filled with wonder and awe seeing these otherworldly unicellular organisms.  They were complex and interesting.  I am so thankful for those memorable learning experiences that have shaped who I am today and set the stage for my obsession with the human microbiota.  I have mentioned before my lifelong struggle with digestive issues and my quest to heal my gut.  I have been learning at lot about the beneficial microorganisms that you find in traditionally fermented foods like sauerkraut, cheese, yogurt, kombucha, and kefir.  As I learn about individual strains it is my goal to use this blog as a way to document everything I learn for my own benefit and to share this information with others.  I have been learning how to make my own fermented foods at home through much trial and error.

I have made my own different kinds of sauerkraut, coconut milk kefir and yogurt, and goat’s milk kefir and yogurt.  I’m working on learning how to make kombucha, amasi (an African fermented milk beverage), and other traditionally fermented foods from all over the world.

Now let’s get into the different kinds of beneficial microorganism that are healthy for the human microbiome.  I like to think of these organisms as our bodies symbiotic friends.

What is Lactobacillus?

Lactobacillus is any group of rod-shaped, gram positive (for a very detailed yet simple explanation of what gram positive means go here), non-spore forming beneficial bacteria in the lactobacillaceae family.  Lactobacillus produce lactic acid by means of glucose metabolism and that lactic acid is what gives sauerkraut and many other fermented foods that tangy sour flavor that many love, including myself.  Whenever you read the labels of yogurt, cheese, or other commercially produced fermented foods, you usually see lactobacillus abbreviated as l. acidophilus, l.casei, l. plantarum, etc.

Common types of Lactobacillus with links to explain their benefits:

In choosing links, I try to go to websites that offer sound science-based  information that is backed by a lot of careful research and published studies.  I hope that this information provided can be beneficial to you.  I am not dogmatic with the information I provide here on my blog.  What may work for my family and I may not work for you and yours.  Each of us have an individual responsibility to educate ourselves in regards to how we will nourish ourselves–mind, body, and spirit.  It is my sincere desire to provide information to you that moves you in the direction of meaningful research to find what will work best for you individually.  My next post will talk about Bifidobacterium, its importance in our microbiome, and how we can acquire and maintain it.  Until we meet again dear readers!

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