“Human Microbiome” is bit of a mouthful, but it is the scientific way of describing gut flora or micro flora. This is a topic that is becoming more and more front-of-mind for experts, media and consumers alike, and of course is prompting a whole new industry of fermented foods products and probiotic supplements. I listened to a 2-hour webinar by Dr. Nigel Plummer PhD., an expert in the field, and was fascinated by the impact this “system” has on our health and well-being. We all have a unique combination of micro-flora and it is similar to our relatives due to similar environments and diets. I will summarize a few of the most interesting facts from his talk below as well as some tidbits from Brett Hall RD and supplement developer for Biotrust. It is so wonderful to listen to webinar replays as you can stop and start them, allowing for copious note taking.
Without this amazing micro-flora, we would become ill and die within 5 years of birth, as we would never develop a competent immune system. Micro-flora is found anywhere we have mucosal tissue: our respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, genito-urinary system and on our skin. To give an idea of numbers, there are 100,000 billion units in the gut, and 1,000 billion on our skin, with up to 1,000 species and 5,000 strains with a total of 100 trillion bacteria overall in and on our bodies. This is 10X the number of cells as those that comprise our bodies. Initial “inoculation” occurs at child-birth and continues through our lives via exposure to those people and things close to us, through touch of the our parents and other caregivers and ingestion of food, bacteria etc.
Human Microbiome can detoxify and positively transform many substances, including heavy metals, by binding and enhancing excretion. It can transform healthy fibre to compounds that remove carcinogens and excess hormones from our bodies. Healthy micro flora can displace harmful candida bacteria.
Microbiome imbalance is related to many health issues, including digestive symptoms (gas, bloating, constipation etc.), impared immunity (frequent infections, slow healing), fatigue, weight gain (especially the inability to lose weight).
Antibiotic resistance will become the biggest health risk for the next 100 years, as bacteria reproduce very quickly and can evolve to their new environments almost as quickly. It is a scary thought to return to the days where a simple infection could be fatal.
What things negatively affect the balance of our Human Microbiome system?
What can you do to improve your Microbiome?
It’s never too late to improve the state of your Microbiome and it will only help improve your overall health and wellbeing.
Tanya Sullivan is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant with many opinions on the state of our food and health.
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