OCEAN PARK — Dr. Frances Makowski, microbiologist/immunologist, says, “It’s never too late to improve your health.” And the steps to do just that don’t have to be steep. Incremental and seemingly small changes can improve both the body and mind.
In a presentation Wednesday, April 18 at 5 pm at the Ocean Park Library, “Dr. Mak” will talk to adults about understanding the role of human microbiome and how their presence in the gut strongly affects health.
“Microbiome is a term that means all the organisms that are (on and) inside our bodies. Depending on which bacterial species are in the gut, they can support good health. Or, there are organisms that can actually cause inflammation which can be damaging to your immune system,” Dr. Mak explained.
It’s basically a war, especially in the gut — good bacteria versus bad. And like the deadly plant in Little Shop of Horrors, both sides are screaming “Feed me!” Dr. Mak said, “It’s what you feed those bacteria that determines what is more helpful for your health.” That includes not only thwarting inflammation, but also preventing issues such as heart disease and cancer.
Where did the Eat Dirt presentation title come from? “It’s not so much that we should go outside and eat dirt,” Dr. Mak said, but she warned against leading a life that is too antiseptic, which can put bacteria in and on the body at risk. She also compared the body to a garden. “If you put good fertilizer in your soil, you’re going to grow great vegetables.” But if no fertilizer is used, only weeds will grow.
“The most important place to get your body’s nutrients is certainly from food,” Dr. Mak asserted. In this talk, she will define the good, bad and the ugly and tell how small improvements in nutrition can help good bacteria win the war. Don’t be surprised if fast food, fat and sugar are some of the topics, as well as fruit, vegetables, lean meats and fiber. Find out what you should be feeding those screaming bacteria.
Dr. Mak stressed, “Eat foods that will support the growth of those good bacteria, then suddenly, you will start feeling better.”
Don’t worry, be happy
Fed properly, the healthy bacteria naturally produce many of the vitamins needed by the body. But one surprising factor Dr. Mak will explore is how one’s mood can be elevated by what goes on in the gut.
“Ninety-nine percent of the important brain chemical serotonin is made by the gut bacteria,” Dr. Mak said, adding that this gut bacteria, “is almost called he second brain.”
When adequately produced, serotonin can make you feel happy, but low levels can cause sadness or depression.
A look inside
Those health and mood adjusting bacteria are not just scattered about inside your body. Dr. Mak described, “They line the entire inside of the gut. If you checked all the gut bacteria in your body, it would probably be about the size of a cat’s brain — a three or four pound mass. Trillions and trillions of them.”
She added that until the last decade or two, “We didn’t know how important these bacteria are.”
A picture is worth a thousand words
At this event, on a large screen television, Dr. Mak will show a large selection of visuals to help explain her topics. Here are some of the questions she will answer. What is your microbiome? Why is it important? What influences your microbiome? How do we maintain a healthy microbiome? What are probiotics and prebiotics? Is it too late to restore your microbiome to a healthy state? Where can I learn more about the human microbiome?
And for the thousands of words…
Dr. Mak will have a printed bibliography of books available through the Timberland Regional Library System “that address this healthy gut kind of eating,” she said, adding that the list was spurred by more than 30 books she has recently read on the topic. But she says that is only the start and that “there are maybe hundreds of more books” available on the subject.
Eat up and feed those good bacteria
At this presentation, microbiome-friendly refreshments will be provided, courtesy of The Friends of the Ocean Park and Ilwaco Libraries. Dr. Mak only dropped hints about what those foods are, with cheeses, yogurt dip and vegetables as some of the highlights.
Dr. Mak said that this will give people an idea of where to start a healthier eating regimen. “So much of what we’re learning is controlled by our diet.” She added that, “Many things you take medications for can sometimes be alleviated or reversed by eating properly and supporting the right bacteria.”
This is a two-for
After Dr. Mak’s presentation, there will be a Meet & Greet with Timberland Director Cheryl Heywood. Dr. Mak said, “Come here about microbiome, enjoy some healthy edibles and spend some time with Director Cheryl Heywood. She’ll probably talk abut some general Library topics, but she’ll really be there to answer questions anyone might have about the Library and it’s programming.
Eat Dirt for Maximum Health Benefits for adults
Wednesday, April 18, 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Ocean Park Library.
A two-for, with a presentation by Dr. Frances Makowski and a Meet & Greet with Timberland Regional Library Director Cheryl Heywood.