Remember when you were a kid and always had dirt under your nails from making mud pies or just digging around outside. The soil is full of bacteria that stuff invariably ends up inside us. There’s no avoiding it and it’s actually not a bad thing.
Somewhere along the line, we’ve been conditioned by society and the media to be scared of ‘bugs’. We find ourselves perpetually inundated by sanitizers! Antibacterial soaps galore– a disinfectant for everything!
And we all know about the rampant overuse of antibiotics. Try as you may, Big Agra fills their livestock to the brim with antibiotics— and where do they end up? In your body.
So what’s the big deal, you’re killing off the bad bacteria, right? Wrong!
This is the classic case of don’t mess with mother-nature. Besides the obvious blow-back of superbugs that are antibacterial resistant, I want to discuss the more broad and subtle complications.
Your Microbiome & Why It Matters
One topic that’s very hot right now in healthcare is our ‘microbiome’. This is a term given for the state of all the natural bugs that live within our gut and on our skin.
Did you know that the number of microbes outnumber the number of cells in our body and if you took them all out they’d weigh several pounds?
We have formed a symbiotic relationship with our microbiome and they form a major portion of our immune system. They act as a front line of defense inside our intestinal wall and on our skin and without the correct balance, diversity and specific type of micro-organism, we begin to get into trouble.
Without getting mired in details, in general there are good bugs and bad bugs and when the good ones are wiped out (as happens from antibacterial agents), the balance is thrown off and opportunistic bugs can take over and things get out of balance.
Here’s a nice diagram to show some of the different ways that the gut bacteria can affect our body and our brains. Take a moment to visit that link and you’ll quickly see how vital the gut bacteria are to our well being.
One thing that helps protect our microbiome and make it more stable is diversity. That means that the more variety of bugs we have the harder it becomes for things to get out of balance, for bad bugs to take over, and for our immune system to become compromised.
There are now numerous studies showing how diversity in the microbiome varies drastically between modern cultures like the United States with less diverse versus cultures throughout the developing world. In cultures, such as Africa or South Asia, where modern amenities such as soap, clean water and antibacterial agents are not prevalent, the population has a diverse and healthy dose of bugs to keep their bodies better balanced.
Studies also show a strong correlation between the decrease in diversity and the rise of autoimmune conditions and systemic inflammatory diseases ranging from Autism, Juvenile Asthma, ADHD, allergies, etc. And that’s just the A’s!
Because this is such an important topic, I’m starting a blog series: Your Gut– The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. In it we’ll cover not only how your microbiome can go wrong but also ways to fix it.
If you or someone you know suffers from one or more of the conditions on the mentioned above and hasn’t found relief from modern medications, you may need to look further and explore the condition of your gut.