“If Momma ain’t happy, nobody have a good time” is the first line of a song by Outta d’ Blues, and the same is true of the microbiome and the rest of the body. The microbiome is worth a good deal of attention because this organ is in charge of breaking down the nutritional elements that come in and distributing them as it sees fit.
On a deeper level, there is evidence that the gut bacteria exert considerable power over what, when, and how we eat. In other words, we labor under the illusion of choice. It is suspected that even what is often seen as addictive behavior (such as compulsive overeating) should be attributed to the perverted cravings of the bugs that covertly run the show.
When a healthful balance is in effect, the interests of the microbiome and the human host are aligned. When the various populations of bacteria are out of balance, bad things happen. What is bad for “us” pretty much turns out to be bad for the microbiome, and vice versa.
The notable example is the overuse of antibiotics, which causes incalculable damage by giving deadly bacteria the opportunity to develop resistance, and leads to the loss of human lives that might otherwise have been saved. As we have seen, the arrival of antibiotics amongst the friendly gut bugs causes devastation that may take years to repair.
The microbiota are harmed by alcohol, which can also be said of numerous bodily systems, and of the human mind itself. Even a small amount of alcohol can degrade the habitat of the microbiota by increasing intestinal permeability.
Courtesy of Onnit.com, here is a list of other substances that damage the microbiome:
— pain killers
— sleeping pills
— heartburn medication
— environmental toxins
It should be noted that environmental toxins are of two kinds. They may be byproducts of manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, and other human endeavors. They may also be poisons that we willingly and voluntarily subject ourselves to, such as food additives, pesticides, beauty products, air fresheners, and a multitude of other consumer goods.
Even substances that were previously considered innocent are indicted. Apparently, gluten increases intestinal permeability in everyone, not just people who have a known sensitivity or allergy. Also:
Intestinal parasites, microbial infestations, or fungal overgrowth — this is much more common than you might think. 80-90% of our population is believed to have some kind of unwanted GI intruder…
The microbiome (and consequently the rest of the body) is affected by more than substances. It suffers from the effects of extreme climate conditions, short-term stress, long-term stress, old age, overexertion, and surgery. The important thing to remember, as predicted by another line of the song, is, “If Momma ain’t happy, there’ll be hell to pay.”
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “If Momma Ain’t Happy,” YouTube.com, 11/06/15
Source: “How to Optimize Your Gut Health,” Onnit.com, 06/09/17
Photo credit: Steve Baker via Visualhunt/CC BY-ND