The microbiome is a collection of over 100 trillion microbes found in the gut, mucosa, skin and genitals of the body. These bacteria, viruses and fungi, including their genetic material, co-exist in a delicate balance with the rest of the human body, affecting many aspects of our health and contributing to our individual genetic identity. As a result of extensive recent research, there is much better understanding surrounding the multiple beneficial functions of this massive, yet mysterious collection of symbiotic microorganisms.
One thing is for sure: a healthy balance is essential for good health.
Functions of the microbiome include immune modulation and disease prevention, cancer prevention, normal growth and development, and even positive mood and normal mental and emotional state. We now understand that Vitamins B12, riboflavin, thiamine and Vitamin K are produced by a healthy microbiome.
The microbiome is maintained by healthy diet and lifestyle including adequate sleep and control of stress. Diets rich in vegetables, beans, whole grains and fermented foods (pickles, sauerkraut, yogurts, kumbacha, miso, tempeh, kim chi) promote healthy microbiome.
Judicious use of antibiotics, minimal processed food, reduced added sugars and minimal red meat also promote healthy microbiome and greater overall health. Taking probiotics and paying attention to pre-biotics will also ensure healthy gut microbes.
Unwanted infections, autoimmune disorders, some cancers, excessive weight gain and even depressions and other mood disorders can result from disruptions of the microbiome. Balance and health of the microbiome is best checked by specific stool examinations. Healthy diet and lifestyle are the best assurance of healthy microbiome.
The future of acute disease management and chronic illness prevention may well rest in the delicate balance between the gut flora and the rest of the body. The term describing this imbalance in the microbiome is Dysbiosis. Signs of dysbiosis include Chronic fatigue, digestive issues including bowel irregularities, vaginal or rectal discomfort, joint pains and inflammation, psoriasis and acne. In fact, any difficult to diagnose chronic health problem may be related to dysbiosis of the microbiome. So, keep your microbiome as healthy as possible and your body will thank you!
Dr. John Monaco