There may be 120,000 to 150,000 different species of bacteria on Earth. Some live in volcanic vents, others thrive in frigid Antarctica. And thousands live on and in each of us.
One study found a total of 4,742 varieties of bacterial species on the hands of 51 college students, but only five of those varieties were common to each of the students. Interestingly, women had many more than men, and a person's left and right hand shared only about 17 percent of the same little critters. But wait, there's even more inside us.
The trillions of bacteria from hundreds of species that make up your gut biome (found inside your intestine) provide life-enhancing benefits, like a strong immune system - if you give the little guys their due. But recent research shows they're harmed by poor nutrition (they gotta eat right) and by overloading your system with too much fat and calories. That keeps good bacteria from elbowing out nastier species that need to be kept in check, and amplifies your risk for obesity. Poor nutrition that damages the biome also can trigger allergies in infants, and even fatty liver disease and depression in adults.
So what are gut-friendly foods? Anything rich in fiber, like 100 percent whole grains; omega fatty acids in salmon, olive oil and nuts; vitamin D; fermented foods, like low-fat, no-sugar-added yogurt; and low-sodium pickles.
Tip: Take a daily spore probiotic containing bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086 and lactobacillus GG.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.