I first began writing a post about gut microbiota, then discovered an entire world of mind blowing research expanding the subject matter to titanic proportions. Anyhow, I will try to stay brief, attempt to be concise, while giving you some references to read more.
We’ve come a long way, from the dirt we came out of to the somewhat sterile spaces we call our homes. But also in terms of how our bodies work. Modern science has given us an insight into the vast and infinitely complicated form of the human organism.
Walking and talking microbes
We learnt in the past hundreds of years that we are made out of cells who are very much as alive as we are (so to speak). Some even remain alive after we die. But interestingly, the organisms who consume our bodies back into earth are the very ones we require to survive: the microbiota.
You may or may have not heard about your gut microbiota, an important aspect of health which is being further studied as we speak all over the world. The understanding is that our gut health is linked to the colonies of bacteria, yeast (fungi), archaea, protists and even viruses (phages) that reside in a sort of harmony. Imagine a microscopic rainforest with many species of plants, animals and fungi.
Many of these organisms have jobs which are quite important: they affect digestion to hormone balance, mood and much more that we have yet to discover. We are discovering more new details about their influence on our bodies as days go by. In fact it’s believed to be one of the keys to understanding health and nutrition, and how we are all very different from each other in terms of dietary needs. (Hadrich, 2018)
It’s also why you may keep hearing of the importance of eating raw fermented foods and to support gut health through diet as more and more research suggests (Bell, Ferrão, Pimentel, Pintado & Fernandes, 2018). The point here is that we have this important colony of bacteria inside our digestive tract, and it can change how we feel and how our body works if something goes wrong. For example, a treatment of anti-biotics without the correct support can wreak havoc on your gut microbiota and kill or imbalance much of the needed colonies of supportive bacteria (Dudek-Wicher, Junka & Bartoszewicz, 2018).
You can actually find a table of results on the various studies showing the effects of dietary supplements and antibiotics. It’s interesting to note that the antibiobiotic treatments and “western diet” have mainly negative effects. Click here to view the table
The microbiota as a word does not refer only to gut health. It refers to the microorganisms that live everywhere. On your hands, your phone, that tree outside, the bananas on your fruit bowl and especially on your kitchen table top. The impact of healthy colonies of internal or external microbiota can be the difference between immune issues (Lazar et al., 2018), mood (Huang et al., 2019), skin health (Sanford & Gallo, 2013) and many other aspects of health, some we have yet to discover.
So how do I protect my microbiota?
It’s important to consider all aspects of your lifestyle to keep your microbiota healthy. There is lots of emerging information out there about how to keep your microbiota healthy.
Notably, some medications like antibiotics & harsher chemicals, such as the ones labeled as killing “99.9% of germs”, can cause massive imbalances when used in excess. Generally reducing the use of these products, when possible, can help protect your microbiota.
Measures such as having raw fermented foods as part of your regular diet, especially during or after an antibiotic treatment could help. Using natural cleaning products (why don’t you make your own?) such as Apple cider vinegar (Johnston & Gaas, 2006) & lemon or Tea tree instead of bleach or strong detergents are actually more beneficial for your microbiota.
I will eventually develop some more about this content. But this should do you for now!
- Bell, V., Ferrão, J., Pimentel, L., Pintado, M., & Fernandes, T. (2018). One Health, Fermented Foods, and Gut Microbiota. Foods, 7(12), 195. doi: 10.3390/foods7120195
- Dudek-Wicher, R., Junka, A., & Bartoszewicz, M. (2018). The influence of antibiotics and dietary components on gut microbiota. Gastroenterology Review, 13(2), 85-92. doi: 10.5114/pg.2018.76005
- Hadrich, D. (2018). Microbiome Research Is Becoming the Key to Better Understanding Health and Nutrition. Frontiers In Genetics, 9. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2018.00212
- Huang, T., Lai, J., Du, Y., Xu, Y., Ruan, L., & Hu, S. (2019). Current Understanding of Gut Microbiota in Mood Disorders: An Update of Human Studies. Frontiers In Genetics, 10. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2019.00098
- Johnston, C., & Gaas, C. (2006). Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect. Medgenmed, 8(2), 61. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1785201/
- Lazar, V., Ditu, L., Pircalabioru, G., Gheorghe, I., Curutiu, C., & Holban, A. et al. (2018). Aspects of Gut Microbiota and Immune System Interactions in Infectious Diseases, Immunopathology, and Cancer. Frontiers In Immunology, 9. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.01830
This article is intended for educational purposes and contains general information so that readers may learn new things. The information is intended to educate, empower and allow room for informed choices. However, if you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or qualified naturopathic practitioner (such as a registered herbalist). You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.