The Microbiome Is About WAY More Than Just Gut Health & Digestion

Written by mindbodygreen

the gut

If we know one thing about wellness, it’s that gut health is of the utmost importance. The bacteria living in your GI tract can make the difference between a happy gut, and one that needs a little TLC. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to help keep your gut healthy (or happy).

Meet Helicobacter pyloria
Is the gut microbiome really that important?
It’s becoming more and more important every day.

Gut health has been a hot topic in the last few years, and for good reason. The adult gut contains the majority of human microbiota with over 1000 different species. Scientists have found that the GI system codes for more than 5 million genes. The gut microbiome may influence things like immune function and vitamin synthesis.

Can an imbalanced gut microbiome lead to disease?
Yes, scientists are connecting common illnesses to gut bacteria all the time.

Research has found that highly diverse bacteria in the gut is indicative of good health and bacterial dysbiosis—overgrowth of bad bacteria in relation to good bacteria—can lead to disease states. For instance, several studies on patients with irritable bowel disease (IBD) discovered that the diversity of the gut differed from those without IBD.

How can you keep your microbiome healthy?
Probiotics, probiotics, probiotics.

While genes and the mode of birth do play a role in the development of gut microbiome, stress, diet, and antibiotics may cause changes in the diversity of our gut microbiota. The scientific community continues to further understand and identify the best mechanisms for improving the health of our GI. Stress management, exercise, a balanced diet, and the consumption of prebiotics and probiotics–either in supplement form or through fermented food and drink (i.e. some fermented veggies or Kevita Sparkling Probiotic Drinks etc.)—all help support the gut microbiota.

Meet E. coli

the mouth

We often forget that our mouth is actually where digestion begins, but it’s true! There are special enzymes in our mouth that start breaking down our food before it even reaches our stomach. In many ways, our oral microbiome and gut microbiome rely on each other to stay in tip-top shape, which is why we should educate ourselves on the ins and outs of the mouth microbiome.

Meet Lactobacillus acidophilus
How big is the mouth microbiome?
Really BIG.

Our mouth houses over 700 species of bacteria, making it the second largest microbiome. These organisms are found on the surface of our teeth, tongue, and the oral cavity’s soft tissues

Do brushing and flossing influence my mouth bacteria?
You bet it does.

Sometimes, it seems that the importance of oral hygiene is downplayed. Balance of oral bacteria is not only associated with cavities and gum disease, but may also play a role in cardiovascular health and disease. So, first things first: brushing twice daily for two minutes and flossing does more than keep your breath minty fresh. This daily ritual can help keep your overall health in check!

the lung

Take a deep breath in through your nose, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Breathing is one of those things most of us take completely for granted; but it’s one of the most amazing parts of our physiology and as it turns out, it’s also connected to our body’s bacteria. We’re learning more about the link between the gut microbiome and lung function every single day.

Meet Helicobacter pyloria
Does our lung microbiome help us breathe easier?
Science says yes.

While research surrounding the lung microbiome is just emerging, studies suggest there is a difference in the diversity and types of microorganisms found in the lungs of healthy patients when compared to those with asthma and COPD. An unbalanced microbiome is thought to worsen current disease states.

What do I need to know about the lung-gut connection?
Bacteria aren’t the only factor at play, but they’re still important.

Diseases of the lungs are multifactorial and can result from genetics, age, pollution, and cigarette smoke.

the skin

The skin is the largest organ in the body and creates a barrier between our delicate internal environment and the outside world. Knowing this, it’s no surprise that the bacteria on the skin are proving more important all the time.

Meet Helicobacter pyloria
Why does my skin need bacteria?
To help protect you from the outside world.

The skin is both a physical and immunological barrier. It keeps our bodies safe from harmful organisms and stimulates healing responses when wounds or infections occur.

Are all the bacteria on my skin the same?
Actually no, they’re all totally different.

The skin's microbiome is highly variable due to inconsistencies in the makeup of the skin. For example, the skin of our underarms is moist compared to the dry skin of our forearms. The types of microorganisms found on the skin are highly dependent on the characteristics of the skin site.

How do I care for my skin microbiome?
For starters, try supporting your skin’s natural pH balance.

Research shows that each microbial community has its desired environment, and when there is a change in the pH, sebum, or sweat production of a particular skin site, disorders or infections may occur. Choosing the right clothing, soaps, and cosmetics for your skin type are ways you can externally care for your skin microbiome.

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