We are a virtual zoo of bacteria. They are on our skin and in our intestines. Yuck, you might say, but face the facts. Our microbiota (you’ll being hearing this term more and more) refers to that zoo living on us and in us. Our health depends on our microbiota. There are so many things we do that alter our microbiota—taking antibiotics, poor diet, and STRESS! Also, the preservatives we eat, the chemicals in our environment, and the antibiotics and chemicals fed to livestock alter our microbiota. College students were found to have a changed microbiota during their exam period due to the stress of exam taking. Stress has been shown to cause irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease by changing the microbiota in the gut. We also know that people who have these conditions have a higher incidence of depression than the general population, likely because of the damaged microbiota. When it is damaged there is decreased synthesis of important vitamins and decreased ability to break down carcinogens (cancer causing substances). The microbiota figures into the obesity and diabetes epidemics as well. Feeding and keeping your microbiota healthy is of prime importance. How do we do that? One of the ways is through proper diet. Eliminate the refined carbohydrates. The white sugar and white flour we eat destroys our healthy intestinal bacteria. Fiber and anti-oxidants in vegetables feed the gut microbiota. Eliminate processed and fast foods. The preservatives and additives in them destroy our healthy microbiota. Stress reduction is another important way to keep your microbiota in good condition. Try meditating on a regular basis for 10-20 minutes a day. Do yoga or tai chi. These relaxation techniques will help to reduce stress and its damaging effects on your health.