When scientists first discovered microbes as a factor in disease, the initial reaction was fear. For the next 100 years or so, the prevailing notion was that the only good bacteria are dead bacteria. We tried to kill all bacteria, using antibiotics in medicine, dentistry, and in our food supply (meat, fish, eggs, and dairy) and even in our cleansers, cosmetics, and toothpastes.
What we didn’t know initially was that bacteria have a powerful intelligence for survival and will mutate to survive. This resulted in the creation of more virulent species and the very dangerous phenomenon of antibiotic resistance. It seemed we were losing the war against microbes. No surprise since we have about 10 times as many microbial cells as human cells. We are outnumbered.
The human microbiome is defined as the collective genomes of the microbes (composed of bacteria, bacteriophage, fungi, protozoa and viruses) that live inside and on the human body.
In very recent years, science has begun to see that a) microbes are a necessity for all life forms, and b) microbial balance is of prime importance to our survival. Microbes are our best partners in health. They greatly impact the vitality of the entire gastro intestinal tract and play powerful roles in our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. In fact, we just can’t survive without them.
An imbalance in our microbes can contribute to weight gain, chronic illness, autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue, anxiety/depression, joint inflammation, ulcers, diarrhea/constipation, bloating, food cravings, leaky gut, and pre-menstrual syndrome.
How do we return to the balance that nature intended?
The first step is to stop killing and focus on balancing.
Your microbiome is as unique as an individual’s fingerprint, responding and changing quickly, based on nutrition, emotions, social and environmental factors and even seasons.
Every time you open your mouth to put in food, beverage, or fingers, you are introducing potentially new species to your body. So, it all starts in the mouth. If your microbiome is alive and well and not killed by strong antibacterial mouthwashes and toothpastes your body will handle the new species via the wisdom of nature and they will either be assimilated or eliminated. A healthy oral microbiome wards off plaque and cavities, gum disease and inflammation, and bad breath.
Many of us have been educated about probiotics which are the known beneficial bacteria found in our gut. But did you know that prebiotics are fibers and foods that nourish the environment so that the probiotic species can thrive? It is prebiotics that serve the oral(mouth) microbiome whereas both pre- and probiotics support the gut microbiome.
Some pre-biotics to support your oral health are: Garlic, onions, dandelion, less ripe bananas, artichokes, chicory root, acacia gum, leeks, asparagus, honey, and jicama, preferably in their rawest state.
A healthy, balanced oral microbiome is like a tidy entryway to your home. It provides a welcome, nourishing environment for the whole gastro-intestinal tract.
Cathy Lidster, B.Sc., GCFP, ACNRT, works locally and internationally to help people regain their health and vitality through gentle, nature based technologies. You can contact her firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-819-9041.