ideas observations

Questions About the Microbiome

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the microbiome … all the microorganisms that hang out in and around human beings, many of which don’t (necessarily) kill us. A number of articles about the microbiome have come to my attention recently, including this one that makes me think Charles Schultz’s character Pigpen was an accurate representation of human beings.  My sister-in-law shared this YouTube video, “Live Dirty, Eat Clean! Why The Microbiome Is The Future of Medicine,” with me after she noted my interest in the topic.

As I read about the microbiome, questions pop to mind, particularly in relation to the eczema and food allergies I developed a few years ago. When I was a young adult, I took a number of courses of antibiotics to deal with kidney infections and strep throat. The doctors I saw did not recommend eating foods to rebuild the gut flora killed off by the antibiotics. (I’m not sure doctors today are any better about this.) Could my eczema and food allergies be caused by an imbalance in my microbiome?

I’m hoping scientists are examining questions such as this, and those that follow, while they get to know the microbiome.

More people today seem to have gluten and other food allergies. Did the overuse of antibiotics kill off microorganisms that help us digest certain foods?

If human beings are surrounded by our own individualized microbiomes, wouldn’t our food sources (plants and animals) be surrounded by their own microbiomes? With the environmental degradation we are facing from pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals, might we have damaged the microbiomes around both food sources and human beings? Could this be why we’re having such trouble with food allergies?

What does a healthy microbiome look like? According to Wikipedia, studies on the link between the gut’s flora and the immune system didn’t started until the 1990s. Will we ever know what a “normal” or “healthy” microbiome is?

What’s the best way to rebuild a healthy microbiome?

With our rampant antibiotic and chemical use, have we caused any organisms within the microbiome to go extinct? How would we know?

Pretty complicated questions, I know. Hopefully the Human Microbiome Project of the National Institutes of Health will find answers to them in enough time to satisfy my curiosity … and improve my health and the health of others.

Do you have a health condition that you suspect is impacted by your microbiome?