How dogs help to keep us healthy

Earlier today I shared a BBC article that talked about how owning a dog can lower your early death risk! Wahoo! I do not need another justification for dog ownership but this was music to my ears.

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One of the explanations as to why dog owners were protected from cardiovascular disease was that dogs change their owner’s bacterial microbiome.

The human body, both inside and out, hosts approximately 100 trillion bacteria! There is a huge collection of bacteria found within the large intestine of our gut. It is referred to as the bacterial microbiome. I like to think of the bacteria microbiome as a mini ecosystem, like a coral reef or a tropical forest sitting within our gut – full of different species of bacteria.

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Having a diverse and robust bacterial microbiome is super important for our overall wellbeing and health. The collection of bacteria within our gut can influence our bodies in perhaps some surprising ways. From playing a part in controlling our body weight, influencing mental health and affecting the development of allergies and autoimmune diseases.

Dogs help us to keep our microbiome healthy as they expose us to different types of bacteria we may otherwise not encounter. Our homes have become very sterile and are sometimes void of useful, ‘good’ bacteria. We can thank our dogs for bringing more bacteria into the home.

But don’t panic – if you don’t have a furry, four legged friend, here are some other ways to keep your microbiome healthy:

  • Eat pre-biotoc foods, examples of these are vegetables, starchy foods, fruits and seeds.
  • Take a probiotic supplement.
  • Consume fermented foods and drinks.
  • Avoid antibiotics unless absolutely necessary.
  • Buy organic, local meat which doesn’t contain antibiotics.
  • Filter your tap water.
  • Avoid harsh cleaning products that kill bacteria.
  • Manage stress

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Our gut bacteria are our allies, we need to prioritise protecting and nourishing them so they can look after us in return.

Paula xo

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