In many ways we are more microbes than humans
Our human cells are outnumbered by the microbes by a factor of 1.3 to 1. Their genes even outnumber the genes of the human body by a factor of 150:1! These genes are important tools for our bodies, without which we wouldn't be able to survive.
Until recently we have been treating this huge population of bacteria — which lives with us in a tight symbiosis - like an enemy. We did not realize that we harm our very own bodies by doing so. Our bodies´ecosystems resemble planets, with each body site harboring a specific ecological community with specific tools. A perturbation of one of these communities, also called dysbiosis, makes us feel very sick – and we are only just beginning to discover just how devastating that is.
Antibiotics are the biggest threat to our microbiome
Over the last 70 years antibiotics saved millions of lives. Today, in life threatening situations like sepsis or a severe lung infection, antibiotics must be employed. But we should be aware that it comes at great expense and that therefore antibiotics should not be regarded as a casual drug.
In the many decades since they have become widely used, they’ve left a clear path of destruction. An increase in diabetes type I and asthma patients also seems to be correlated to the excessive use of antibiotics. (Read more about antibiotics and the microbiome.)
The dysbiosis impacts our whole body
Removing our beneficial bacteria makes us vulnerable to pathogenic bacteria, which move in a wiped-out ecosystem where they can then settle and make us sick. Immune-deficient people struggle to regain their healthy microbiome, which results in a vicious circle of the need for more antibiotics to be taken…
There are various diseases which correlate with the removement of our beneficial bacteria:
The microbiome has a very important mission in our body: to train our immune system. Many autoimmune diseases are the result of a disturbance to the adaptive immune system.
Disorders in the digestive tract
Well-known cases of an imbalanced ecosystem in our bodies are the antibiotics-associated diarrhea, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease and gastrointestinal cancers.
Many of us know this skin disease from puberty: 85% of all teenagers are affected by acne. Atopic dermatitis is also common, especially among babies and children.
Do you go with your gut feeling? Actually, this old proverb harbors more truth than you think. Your gut influences your feelings and your brain controls your gut through the gut-brain axis.