Your body is host to 100 trillion or more microbes. That’s more than the human cells in your body.
In fact, we now know you have more microbes in your body than there are stars in our Milky Way galaxy.
Since medical school, I’ve been fascinated by this ecosystem we carry around. But back then there was no name for it. Today, we call it the “microbiome.”
And now, exciting new research reveals that women with breast cancer had dramatically different microbes than women with benign breast disease. Women with cancer also had more microbes in their breasts. And the microbiome from cancer sites was significantly different from normal tissue just inches away in the same woman.
Mayo Clinic researchers used DNA sequencing to analyze breast tissue from 33 women. They identified striking differences in the breast bacteria of women with and without breast cancer. They found that the inside of your breast is a complex microbial world. And it’s much different from the skin tissue just outside your breast.1
The researchers said the imbalance in microbes — what we call dysbiosis — may contribute to inflammation and cancer.
Microbes include bacteria, viruses and fungi.
You probably know by now that your gut is home to most of these microbes. In fact, your microbiome extends to just about every organ and body system.
Doctors are finally beginning to realize how much we need these tiny “bugs” to survive and thrive. Truth is, humans co-evolved with all these microbes. They couldn’t survive without us.
But it’s a two-way street…
We need these microbes as much as they need us. Some of them boost your immune system.
Others help you digest food and turn it into vitamins.
This ecosystem can determine how often you get sick, how much energy you have and how well your digestion works.
When “bad microbes” crowd out “good microbes,” you see an increase in disease and aging. As bad bugs overpower the good ones, your immune system gets weak. Your risk of obesity, diabetes, kidney disease and cancer goes up. So do rates of allergies, asthma, autism and autoimmune diseases.2
In short, the secret to vibrant health is having enough good microbes to crowd out the bad ones.
Keeping your gut microbes in balance is a great way to keep the microbiome in your breasts healthy. Research shows that good bugs from the gut make their way to the breast. In one animal study, mice were given bad microbes directly into their stomach. The mice showed increased rates of cancer in their mammary glands.3
Rebalance Your Microbiome to Defeat Cancer
Our primal ancestors had a perfect balance of good and bad bacteria. And in my travels I’ve seen how cultures that stick with a traditional diet and medicine have healthier microbiomes.
But our modern world is not friendly to good bacteria.4 To fight back, I advise you to:
- Eat your dairy raw and cultured. Foods like yogurt, butter and raw cheese can help destroy bad bacteria. I recommend kefir. It tastes like a yogurt milkshake. But it has more protein and less sugar. And it’s a potent way to restore good bacteria after a course of antibiotics. Just be sure to avoid products with added sugars or flavorings.
The ingredients should say milk and “live cultures” — that’s it.
You get a good supply of probiotics by eating fermented veggies and cultured dairy. Just add one quarter to one half cup of fermented veggies to one meal per day. Work up to three meals a day. You’ll find it can very quickly have a dramatic impact on your health.
- Feed your microbiome with fermented foods. Fermented foods contain probiotics to support your microbiome. I recommend drinking kombucha. Or look for naturally fermented vegetables like cucumbers, beets and radish roots. You’ll find them in the refrigerated section of your grocery store.
But the best way to boost your good bacteria is with homemade sauerkraut. You see, when you ferment cabbage with salt, good Lactobacillus bacteria multiply. But most commercial sauerkraut is pasteurized. That destroys ALL bacteria — good and bad.
Here’s my favorite quick and easy sauerkraut recipe.
Fermented foods can help improve your microbiome and digestion.
- 1 head of cabbage
- 1/8 cup of pink Himalayan sea salt or Celtic sea salt
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 Tbsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. black peppercorns, ground
- Remove outer leaves from the cabbage head and set aside. Slice the cabbage into thin ribbons.
- Place cabbage in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Knead the cabbage with your hands for about 10 minutes. Cabbage should start producing liquid brine. Stop kneading when you have enough liquid brine to cover the cabbage.
- Add garlic and pepper flakes to cabbage. Mix together and transfer to a 1-quart Mason jar. Stuff the cabbage tightly into the jar. You should have enough brine to cover the cabbage. If not, add water to cover the cabbage completely.
- Add the reserved cabbage leaves on top to weigh down the cabbage and make sure it is submerged in the brine. If not completely submerged, the cabbage could grow mold.
- Seal the Mason jar. Let it sit on your kitchen counter or other cool place (60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit). After two weeks, check for your desired tanginess and crunch. Stop the fermentation by moving the jar to the refrigerator. Enjoy right away or store in the refrigerator for up to six months.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Hieken T.J, et al. “The microbiome of aseptically collected human breast tissue in benign and malignant disease.” Sci Rep. 2016;6:30751.
2. Logan, AC, et al. “Immune–microbiota interactions: Dysbiosis as a global health issue.” Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2016;16(2):13.
3. Lakritz J R, et al. “Gut bacteria require neutrophils to promote mammary tumorigenesis.” Oncotarget. 2015; 6(11): 9387-9396.
4. Segata N. “Gut microbiome: Westernization and the disappearance of intestinal diversity.” Curr Biol. 2015;25(14):R611–R613.