It is regularly stated how dangerous microbes can be. Of course there are bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa etc. that can be dangerous. But did you know that about 39 trillion bacteria are also very healthy and even vital for us as humans? We call this the microbiome.
What is the microbiome?
All microbes on and in our body make up the microbiome, which is mainly located in the gut (in the large intestine, about 100 billion bacteria per milliliter!). Other areas include the skin and other mucous membranes such as the mouth and vagina. The microbiome can consist of both ‘healthy’ and ‘harmful’ bacteria. Another word for this is gut flora or gut microbiota. In short the bacterial population in your gut. It has several functions and a major role in health. For example, the gut microbiota influences the immune system, the brain and the digestive system. Different bacteria are involved in various processes, such as the breakdown of dietary fiber and the production of hormones and vitamin K. This is also the reason that newborn babies are not yet able to produce vitamin K themselves, as their microbiome is not yet sufficiently developed.
The structure of the microbiome
In a baby, the build-up of the microbiome starts with the bacteria that are transferred to the baby via the vagina (the birth canal) of the mother. In addition, the baby builds up the microbiome in the long term through breastfeeding, cuddling and the environment (coming into contact with different bacteria). Everyone has a personal microbiome. The more varied, the healthier. The best-known bacterial genera of good bacteria are the lactobacilli and the bifidobacteria. Age, (varied) diet, hereditary factors, (chronic) stress, fears, lifestyle, smoking, alcohol use, medication use (such as antibiotics). And certain hygiene products and behavior (such as disinfecting hand gel and washing hands and body very often), cleaning products, environmental toxins and various diseases, affect the gut microbiota.
A unique ecosystem
Everyone has, as it were, a unique ecosystem in his/her body. If this becomes out of balance, various physical, but also mental complaints can arise. More and more research is being done on the microbiome. Scientists have now discovered a link between a disturbed balance in the microbiome and the following disorders and complaints:
ADHD, autism, depression, anxiety, diabetes, overweight, respiratory complaints, osteoarthritis, abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, problems with bowel movements, cystitis, autoimmune diseases, rheumatism, MS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, throat- nose and ear infections, heart complaints, high blood pressure, eczema, skin complaints, fatigue, CFS/ME, muscle aches, asthma, allergies, food intolerances and certain cancers, including colon cancer.
Do you have any of these complaints of ailments? Discuss it with your GP, specialist, therapist or inquire at a specialized microbiome center. After the examination, a tailor-made treatment can be carried out.