The microbiome is the tiny universe of bacteria that exists inside every human body. In the past, we only focused on the ways harmful bacteria interact with us. Today, medicine is learning how to integrate these "good" bacteria and create lasting, holistic health.
Fortune Magazine declared 2015 "The Year of the Microbiome," and even Deepak Chopra wrote his Big Idea 2015 on Medicine, Wellbeing, and the Microbiome. Every day, there seems to be a new study about how the microbiome is transforming the way we view health and healing.
Maybe you've been following this trend, maybe you're just now seeing change. Either way, these little-known facts below about the microbiome will change the way you think about your health.
1. Improving your microbiome can make you a better friend and lover.
Studies have shown some pretty incredible links between mood and your microbiome. Turns out that "gut feeling" may be more than just a hunch, it may be a real transmittance your body is sending to your brain that influences your mood, behavior and feelings.
Have you and your boyfriend or girlfriend ever gone out for a feast of delightfully unhealthy proportions only to then find yourselves picking fights with one another once you're back home and digesting?
Fueling your body with unhealthy bacteria, and then feeding it with more unhealthy bacteria, is a sure-fire way to destabilize your mind-body connection. Instead, focus on supporting the positive bacteria in your belly with fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kefir and watch your spirits soar.
2. Your microbiome can help you beat obesity, autoimmune disease, and other health conditions.
First things first: there are some things you simply can't change naturally. Maybe it's your mother's hips, your grandfather's ears or your family's freckled skin. These distinctions are a reflection of nature's diversity and are what make our species so fascinating. But that doesn't mean that everything about us is defined by genetics. And even if it were, there'd still be plenty of wiggle room.
Epigenetic research, which explores non-genetic influences on gene expression, has found compelling evidence that both the microbiome and our environments play tremendous roles in how our genes express themselves. Our bodies are cohesive entities, yes, but within each there are several languages spoken.
The microbiome works like a translator for all of these systems, deciphering and decoding so that one process can communicate with the other for more efficiency and effectiveness (helping our systems to work as a team instead of independently alongside one another).
What does this mean for you? That you don't have to suffer from that autoimmune disorder, that the cycle of obesity can stop with you, that you can reverse a condition you, your genealogy, or your doctor said you'd have to manage for the rest of your life. What this means is that the power to control your health is back in your hands.
3. You can improve your microbiome with prebiotics.
We all know what probiotics are, those happy doses of healthy bacteria that can help with everything from easing digestion to increasing immunity to fighting infection. They're powerful little guys and we love them, but there may be a new kid on the block that is taking a bit of the spotlight. Prebiotics, according to the Mayo Clinic, are "nondigestible carbohydrates that act as food for probiotics." You can find them in yogurts, kefir, or capsules.
When combined with probiotics, the two become symbiotic; rich with both live bacteria and the food they need to thrive. Probiotics can make incredible contributions to your gut, microbiome and entire body — when fueled properly, that is. (After all, any flower can grow but it takes water and nutrients to make one bloom.)
4. Your microbiome may be the key to solving your autoimmune problems.
Humans are super organisms, and when you begin to see biology through this lens, you realize how interconnected our systems really are. This is a critical point for understanding the connection between your microbiome and autoimmune problems. There is increasing evidence suggesting that the development of autoimmune diseases is dependent on gut microbiota. And you don't have to have a diagnosis to see why healing the gut is so important to vitality.
Some people get tired, others are consistently and inexplicably rundown, told by doctors that their routine tests are normal and they must just be overworked.
I've found that this kind of unexplained fatigue is often linked to a lack of diversity in the microbiome and can be remedied, despite what conventional medicine says. Healing through the microbiome allows us to address the root cause of autoimmune problems — not just their symptoms — and create a pathway for optimal health.
5. The microbiome can help you get glowing skin, balanced weight, and a youthful essence.
If you know a little bit about health, you know this: what you put into your body has a big impact on what happens on the outside of your body. Food, water, supplements — they all help shape a healthy person, but not all the credit, or attention, should be given to these sources of nutrition.
Your inner ecology, your microbiome, is influential on your physical health, and that shows through glowing skin, a balanced weight and a youthful essence. I've seen how the microbiome can treat skin issues with my own patients, and there are new dermatological treatments being developed thanks to the microbiome. And if that doesn't convince you of the power of these tiny particles, just know that L'Oreal is hoping to innovate in cosmetics with the microbiome in mind.