How the Home and Gut Microbiome are Very Similar

Gillian May

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These days, most people know that bacteria reside in our guts and that they're essential to our health. These bacteria are what make up our gut microbiome. But did you know that we also have a home microbiome that is similar to our guts? Also, the two microbiomes coexist and help each other. The more diverse and abundant these bacteria, the healthier our guts and homes will be.

However, many people still don't understand why having diverse bacteria is important. We need the microbiome in our guts and our homes to be healthy and diverse at the same time. As living organisms, we're connected to our living environments, so if one microbiome is unbalanced, chances are the other is too.

Also, by understanding the similarities between the gut and home microbiome, we can make better decisions for how to improve and maintain them. However, many of us may not understand that the home microbiome is similar to the one in our gut. Therefore, people may not realize how to create balance in our home microbiome.

So let's define both the gut and home microbiomes and look at their similarities. Then we can discuss the importance of both microbiomes for the health of our bodies and living environments.

What is the gut microbiome?

The evidence is clear that having healthy and diverse microbes in the gut is essential for the development, functioning, and maintenance of our overall physical health. Gut microbes impact the digestive system, immune system, and many other organs in our body.

For example, gut microbes are needed to help digest and absorb nutrients from the food we eat. This helps sustain the immune system, which is also connected to the nerves, brain, blood vessels, and other vital organs.

Research shows that a gut microbiome that lacks diverse and healthy bacteria may be a root cause of health problems like diabetes, obesity, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and autoimmune issues.

We're all born with a sterile gut that becomes populated by essential microbes in infancy. The particular distribution of microbes is unique to each individual even though we share many microbial species between humans. Many issues can cause us to lose the diversity of our gut microbes. Things like illness, antibiotics, chemicals, food additives, and stress can cause a shift in the balance of bacteria in our guts. This is called dysbiosis.

Dysbiosis refers to both the loss of our gut microbes as well as an overgrowth of harmful microbes. A gut without enough microbes means that we may not have the ability to digest enough nutrients. Also, if one microbe is allowed to grow too much, this can lead to other health issues as well.

An example of an overgrowth of harmful microbes is in a common condition known as candidiasis. This is an overgrowth of yeast in the gut known to cause bloating, headaches, brain fog, and other health problems. Yet another example is a condition known as c. difficile, which is a bacteria known to cause severe diarrhea.

In recent years, many health professionals are advocating for the use of pre and probiotics to help control dysbiosis. There's also been much discussion of the overuse of antibiotics as they are known to kill healthy gut microbes. Lastly, we know that things like maintaining a healthy diet or decreasing stress can also help retain the microbe balance in our guts.

The goal is to create an environment in our guts where healthy microbes can grow in diverse amounts. This diversity not only contributes to the proper functioning of our bodies, but it prevents unhealthy microbes from growing in large numbers.

So when it comes to the health of our guts, we need lots of healthy and diverse microbes that live well together and in balance.

What is the home microbiome?

Now that we understand the gut microbiome, let's look at the home microbiome. Our homes also have a microbiome that is unique and essential in maintaining the health of our living environment.

Just like our guts, our homes get colonized with a variety of diverse microbes, some of which are required to maintain balance and health. If our home microbiome is lacking in microbes, such as often happens when we overclean and create a sterile environment, then problems can arise.

Also, if we clear out a few key species of microbes that help maintain balance, we may see an overgrowth of other more harmful species. For example, microbes like mold, yeast, and salmonella can grow unchecked in a home environment that lacks diverse, healthy microbes.

So in a sense, we may also need to consider ways to enhance the growth of healthy bacteria, the same as we would do for our guts. Just as we take probiotics for our gut health, we can also use probiotics for our home. Products like Homebiotic spray contain healthy soil-based microbes that help maintain the home microbiome. Also, just as we work to prevent a sterile gut, we want to avoid a sterile home environment. This means we don't over-clean our homes with harsh chemical cleaners too frequently.

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How are the gut and home microbiome related?

Since we are biodiverse beings that are dependent on our environments, it makes sense that our gut and home microbiome co-exist. Of course, the microbial population in our guts and our homes will be somewhat different. But, studies show that homes are also colonized by bacteria found in humans and pets that live in the house.

Interestingly, some microbes that are unique to the home and the immediate outdoor environment also live in our bodies. We know that this relationship creates a diverse microbiome, and this diversity is fundamental to our wellbeing as a whole. So obviously, if there is dysbiosis in the home, then there may be dysbiosis in the human microbiome as well.

Indeed, in recent years, research shows how the use of chemicals to clean our bodies and living environments can also affect the human microbiome.

Also, we know that homes surrounded by diverse soil-based microbes such as farms or homes with a lot of green space are known to create healthier immune systems in children. It seems that a direct connection to our environment is what actually creates robust body systems.

Lastly, a home that is lacking in diverse microbes is likely to have an overgrowth of harmful microbes like mold. In recent decades, mold illness in the form of allergies, asthma, and other related health issues are on the rise. So we know that our home biome has an effect on our health and wellbeing.

Why is this important to know?

The more we understand the connection between our gut and home microbiome, the more we know how to maintain health in both areas. As living beings, we are symbiotically connected to our environments.

People are becoming more educated about the importance of healthy and diverse gut microbes. Still, they have yet to see the connection between their gut and their home microbiome.

The more we understand the importance of having diverse microbes in our guts and in our homes, the more we will take care not to create a dysbiosis in either. As we try to enhance our physical health to ensure the diversity of microbes in our gut, we can also do the same thing for our homes.

So the more we see the connections between our gut and home microbiome, the more it makes sense to look after both so we can improve our overall health.

Research I used to write this article:

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3667473/

2. https://letthemeatdirt.com

3. https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2013/01/03/healthy-gut-healthy-you/

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425030/

5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3448089/

6. https://www.karger.com/Article/Pdf/354902

7. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064133

8. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2015.1139

9. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/all.13002

10. https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2607/7/9/287

11. https://www.pnas.org/content/110/46/18360?etoc=

12. https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa1508749

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I'm a former nurse turned freelance writer. I have extensive experience in administration, frontline care, and education in mental health, public health, and geriatrics. However, after 20 years, I needed a change and always wanted to write. I have personal and family experience in mental health and addictions, so I'm passionate about advocacy and education in those areas. I'm also a traveler, photographer, and artist. I funnel all my various expertise into my writing and hope to provide valuable content that is entertaining and educational. Join my email list if you want to read more of my work - https://upbeat-trader-4181.ck.page/839d0ab3f9. I also have a book on Alcoholic Liver Disease coming out in 2021.

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