Give Thanks: Feeding Your Microbes and Feeding Your Lineage


It may come of no surprise to you that I tend to think about the holidays a bit differently than most.  The usual family tension and meal preparation carry deeper meanings to me, reaching their tendrils into microbial gut colonies and ancestral meanderings.

You all may have read previous blog posts on microbes, digestion, and fermentation here and here.  Well, this blog post continues on that thread of thought.

In this article in Asheville’s local publication, Mountain Express, author Lisa Sarasohn begins (I’m actually quoted in this article along with a gastroenterologist and naturopath):

“When you sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, just who will you be feeding?

In addition to invited guests, you’re hosting trillions of bacteria in your gut. The beneficial ones promote digestion, make nutrients, secrete enzymes, produce hormones, eliminate infections and help stabilize your mood and behavior. These microbes rely on you for sustenance.”

So, the great holiday feasting table is turned.  We *think* we are simply feeding ourselves and our family and/or friends (right?).  When, in reality, we are tending our gut garden which is made up of microbes.  Microbial cells are 10:1 to human cells (that is 10 microbial cells to 1 human cell).  Microbes also take on and release DNA at will.  Considering that, our microbial DNA composition is actually much greater and more flexible and dynamic than our human genome.

With this in mind, our holiday meal literally informed which microscopic microbes were fed and which ones were starved.  The invisible matrix of microbes all along our digestive tract shifted for the millionth time.

As you may know pathogens love processed carbs and sugar while microbes like more difficult to digest foods like prebiotics (which are not utilized by the body and only feed microbes in the gut).  As well, we could have introduced more beneficial bacteria to our guts through lacto-fermented foods and drinks such as sauerkraut, fermented chutneys, creme fraiche, and beet kvass.

Food and sharing it with family and friends is at the heart of our human design.  What we actually grow, prepare, and share is at the crux of who we are and who we actually can become.  We are what we eat.  We.  Really.  Are.

It doesn’t surprise me that the holidays are chocked full all kinds of squeamish tales of dreaded holiday meals as well as noble tales of break-through meals.  Did we have a break-through meal this past holiday?

What did the contents of our meal express to us about who we are, what we are connected to, and what we support?  How did that food inform our body and our system?  What did we affirm in our physical reality with what we decided to chew and integrate into our unseen cellular and microbial realm?

And finally…the piece about ancestry.  I can’t help but talk about ancestral lineages if I’m talking about microbes and holiday dinners.  I mean, we are first inoculated with our microbial composition by traveling through our mother’s birth canal.  This is our first inheritance.  And then…we learn how to feed this every-changing colony throughout our lives and even pass it on to the next generation.

Over the years, I’ve traveled down all kinds of worm-holes regarding the microbiome, gut health, traditional food ways, trans-generational trauma, trauma and recovery, epigenetics, and soul loss and retrieval.  There is a continuous thread that can be woven through all of these topics.  That thread has to do with protection or the immune system.  (Check out this informative 30 min presentation by Dr. Grace Liu, the Gut Goddess).

And now, I’ll take an even further leap (and risk losing you).

I’ve been really curious about why mostly women have had issues with thyroid issues, auto-immune disorders, and fatigue.  It’s fascinating that all of these issues are intimately linked with GI complaints.  Considering that immune cells make up about 70-80% of the digestive tract, understanding what’s going on “down there” will definitely play a big part in unlocking these health issues.

Then, there’s Donna Nakazawa’s new book, Childhood Disrupted (you can read a summary of it here).  She talks about female brain development and childhood trauma.  The consensus is that female brains do not develop the same as males’ because of estrogen levels in females.  The short of it is that when females experience trauma, they are more easily thrown into systemic inflammatory dysregulation and resulting compromised immune function.

So, back to protection and the immune system.  When our immune system is not function well, we are simply not protected.  We can become vulnerable to various viruses, fungi, and bacterial pathogens that are never fully defeated.

One example of this is the Epstein-Barr virus.  A well-known medical intuitive writes about the many women he sees with this virus still in the clients’ system years after contracting the virus.  The under-functioning immune system did not fully rid the body of the vaccine.  The symptoms sound very similar to thyroid imbalances, auto-immune disorders, and Lyme’s Disease.

To me, the summary is => transgenerational trauma and childhood trauma set up (mostly) women with dysregulated inflammation and compromised immune function => super-bugs and drug-resistant bacteria are become more problematic for various reasons => when a woman with a compromised immune system is infected with a pathogenic bacteria or virus, her body is not able to fight it off => the virus or pathogen lodges in her system somewhere => the immune system begins to attack the area that the virus or pathogen has lodged itself => auto-immune response.

I will try to bring it back home now.

What does a low functioning immune system mean?  I’m going to get all depth psychology here now…bear with me.

Lack of protection (masculine).  Also, lack of nourishment (feminine).

Based on my own experience with healing from these conditions, I propose that gardening the gut with nourishing foods (feminine) and building up immune function with proper plant medicine and allopathic medicine when necessary (masculine)…are two key elements to finding balance again.

It seems to me that soil work (how we tend the soil, what kind of microbes are in our soil, where our food comes from)…is indeed soul work (immune function and protection, what kind of microbes make up our system).

So, what we put on the table…what we bring into our homes…what we support with our eating habits…I feel…is a major part of who we are and who we may become.

I got a little carried away in this blog post.  I think that the more I write about the link between soil, food, microbiome, epigenetics, and immune function…the more it will make sense.  Like I said, bear with me!  More to come…  And, blessed holiday season to you and yours!

More good stuff:

Also by Lisa Sarasohn, her new book The Women’s Belly Book

A really lovely TED talk by Family Constellation Work practitioner and therapist Lisa Iverson on Receiving Life

2 thoughts on “Give Thanks: Feeding Your Microbes and Feeding Your Lineage

    • Thanks Elizabeth! I do feel that the act of eating is what marries the seen and unseen realms. It seems to simple and so benign. However, this powerful act…I sense…greatly informs how we become and who we become. I’m still trying to find the words for it.

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